Publishing is like the weather in Chicago. Just wait a minute and it’ll change. No one knows that better than my friend, author Brenda Janowitz, who shares with us today how her newest novel was something she never thought would see the light of day, let alone a book shelf, and how she turned it upside down and inside out to meet a need in the market and a desire within herself to see the story published.
Tell us about the novels and idea you’ve tucked away, congratulate Brenda on today’s launch of her newest novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, and welcome her back to WFW!
How I Dusted Off An Old Idea And Wrote A New Adult Novel
I’m talking about “trunk novels.” Those novel proposals, book ideas, and glimmers in the eye that just never went anywhere. Some writers have complete manuscripts just sitting in a desk drawer somewhere, just waiting to see the light of day.
I got the idea for THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB back in 2007, before my first novel was published. I was thinking about different ideas to pitch, other stories to tell now that my debut novel was about to come out. I wanted to create a protagonist who was in no way like the protagonist of my first novel. So no more lawyers, no more girly girls, and definitely a different voice.
I started with the idea of a rocker chick, a girl who lived in the downtown club scene and cared more about music than anything else in the world. My agent liked the idea, so I ran with it: I wrote 100 pages and an outline for the rest. We pitched it to my publisher, but they had other ideas in mind: they wanted a sequel to my debut novel.
Once my contract was up, we were free to shop it elsewhere. Only problem was, in the time since writing the proposal for THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, the market had turned. Suddenly, “chick lit” was a dirty word, and editors were scared of acquiring anything that resembled it. So, LONELY HEARTS went into the trunk, and I began work on what would become my third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE.
But then a funny thing happened. The market changed again. E-books were on fire, and a new market was born.
An old friend of mine, the wonderful Jason Pinter, contacted me about a new indie publishing house he was creating. Polis Books would be e-book only, and he would be establishing real partnerships with his authors. He was interested in creating a women’s fiction arm, so I told him about my trunk novel.
The rest, as they say, is history. I took THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB out of the trunk, and started writing again. I’d been reading a lot of New Adult novels—novels that fill the space between the Young Adult market and the older Women’s Fiction crowd—so I lowered the protagonist’s age to twenty-two. Working off my old outline, I finished it, and Polis Books will be publishing THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB on May 6th.
I’m excited about this novel. And scared. And a whole host of other things, too. There’s something thrilling about taking an old novel out of the trunk and dusting it off. There’s also something terrifying—what if it should never have come out?!
I’ll figure that out on today I suppose. And then, who knows, maybe it will inspire me to dig out some other story ideas that I never finished….