Since today is Canada Day, I thought I’d introduce a young Canadian writer who has recently published her first historical romance novel through Amazon. I thought you might be as interested in her journey as I am.
Hi, Cheri! Welcome to my blog.
Hi everyone. Thank you for having me!
Please tell my followers a little bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Cheri Champagne. I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 21 and have been happily married since. I now stay at home with my young sons, aged 3 and 1 1/2. I graduated from university with an Applied Business Technology degree when I was 22 and began working in an office right out of the schoolroom. I left work when I was seven months pregnant with my first son and have not gone back since. It was an easy decision on my part to stay at home with my son; this was definitely where I was meant to be.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was a child, actually. I began with short stories when I was about 7, then progressed to poetry when I was in my teens, and children’s books as I entered my parenting years. Then, roughly eight months ago, I began writing my first romance novel.
What inspired you to start writing?
When I first began writing as a child, it was because I had so many stories and thoughts rattling around in my mind that I had to get them out. For my current novel, however, my answer is different.
I think I could say that this answer could be split between both my husband and myself. I have been reading historical romance novels since I was 15, and have loved them ever since. I adore the adventure, the passion, the rules and customs of Regency England, the image that the books create in my mind, and the happy way that I feel after having read them. After reading several hundred… er… thousand historical romance novels, I began to think of stories that I’d like to read. I began to hope that some of my favourite authors would somehow hear my thoughts and create the books that I wanted to read. I then started writing the plots down in a notebook… I began making notes about where the novel would begin, followed by what drove the characters. Then I wrote the characters’ names, ages, and a short description of what I wanted them to look like. Soon enough I had 8 plots outlined.
My husband knew that I loved to write and missed doing it. I had asked what he thought about me returning to school and taking more creative writing courses (I had taken nine creative writing courses in my first few years of college/university). He suggested that I forget going to school and just begin writing. He said that I didn’t need a professor telling me that I needed to write; I had the drive, the desire to succeed, and the plots. All I had to do was put my fingers to my keyboard. So I did.
That was very perceptive of him!
With two young boys running around your house, how do you find the time to get any writing done?
That was incredibly challenging. And still is! But as every mom knows, there are lulls in the energy that their children have. First thing in the morning, my sons would eat their breakfast and give me time behind my computer. Then during my youngest son’s nap I got between 2 and 3 hours to work, and when my husband came home and my sons clung to him, I had time then. I tried to get some more work done during the day, but I knew that I had to step back from my computer when my kids needed my attention. Any chance I got that my kids were distracted with toys or each other, I quickly sat at my desk and wrote another sentence or two. I found myself needing to re-read and proofread along the way, as the stop/go nature of my writing required it.
My husband and sons were incredibly understanding and my mom and mother-in-law were wonderful. I was able to call my mom or my husband’s mom and ask them if they could watch the boys for a few hours while I get some writing in and they were always more than willing.
How terrific to have that level of support from your family!
What was your strategy with regards to editing? Did you rely on critique partners or beta readers?
I re-read my novel from beginning to end three times before I sent my novel to a beta reader. While it was being read by another, I read through it again myself and found more required changes. I think that having someone else read your work is very important. They find things that you had missed, and let you know when something doesn’t make sense. It may make sense to you (since you’ve got the plot already in your mind), but sometimes without realizing it, you’ve left out some pertinent information.
That is very true!
Many writers have become a little discouraged because of the state of publishing, these days. Please tell us a little about why you went this route and the process of publishing through Amazon.
I had tried to go the ‘traditional’ route at first. I sent query letters to several publishers; many did not respond at all, but I received a couple of rejections. One said that their publishing company no longer took on Romance authors, another said that they had gone out of business, and one said that due to the sheer volume of responses, they could not take my submission into consideration. The literary agencies that I sent queries to all said that they were full of clients and had no room for more.
After being ‘rejected’ (whether by lack of response or otherwise) by 13 publishing companies/literary agents I decided to do more research. I looked into some blogs about publishing and self-publishing and the benefits of both. I spent several hours just searching the web and seeing what my options were, and found several more publishers that take on Romance novels… the problem was that many of them said that they do not accept ‘multiple submissions’ (ie. they don’t want your manuscript or query letters going to any other publisher… and they expect you to wait for 3 months while they deliberate. Many will not even let you know if they have seen your submission and passed on it; they’ll just make you wait the 3 months hoping you will give up).
Eventually I decided that I had wasted my time by trying to be ‘traditional’. I had previously thought that by self-publishing I would be considered a ‘failure’ for not being accepted by a publishing house, but what I came to understand is that there are hundreds of thousands of authors just like me who are trying to have their novels read, and only one novel PER MONTH get accepted by each publishing company–sometimes less. I also realized that if I go the traditional route I will not have control over my title, my cover, or my story. Publishers tend to follow ‘trends’ in the novel-writing business, and I will stray from historical romance for no one. I much prefer to write what I love to read and, once I have found the perfect story to tell, I would like to keep it genuine. What I write is exactly what I imagined it to be and not what a publisher has moulded it to be.
The process of publishing through Amazon was surprisingly easy. I went on to their site, went to the ‘publish with us’ page, chose the ‘print on demand’, and entered my information. Once I was logged-in to my own page I uploaded my document. They request 24-48 hours to check the format, then they send you a PDF or Word document file to check the formatting yourself and make any necessary changes. Once you have proofread your file, you can move on to the next step, which is creating your own cover. They have many templates that you can work off of. You can pick your own pictures, colours, fonts, etc. and work form there. Once you have created and submitted your cover, the entire book goes to them to check over. They will email you once they are done, and if it all checks out, you are ready to push the “Publish” button.
They will give you a minimum price point for the size and style of book that you request. Once it has been set, you are ready to be up on the Amazon.com website! They also give you the option to publish through Kindle, which is just as simple as with Amazon.com.
If you wish to have editors read through your work or a designer create your cover, however, you will have to pay them for their services. There is a ‘price chart’ on their website.
Did you have to sign any kind of contract, giving them a percentage of your sales? Do you get royalties like traditional publishers? If so, how does it compare with traditional royalties (if you don’t mind my asking)
Yes, I clicked the “agree and continue” button with regards to their contract. I have still retained all rights to my work, but they get a large percentage of every book sold. They claim to be much better than traditional royalties, but I am not so sure. For example, if someone purchases a printed copy of my novel, I make mere pennies (literally), but if someone purchases an e-copy of my novel, I would make a little more. I believe the percentage that I see is 35% for eBook purchases. They offer a 70% royalty option, but I would advise reading the rules and stipulations before jumping into that decision.
That’s actually not too bad. Traditional publishers will give you an advance, but rarely give royalties of more than 10%.
Have you tried using any other e-publishers? What was that like?
I am currently working on this. I Googled many eBook websites and eventually came across one (eBookIt) that publishes to several e-publishers. I decided to take a chance on it, and right now I’m waiting for the email telling me that I need to approve my novel to continue the publishing process.
Many e-publishers (such as the one I am going through) require payment for publishing through them. It can be a time-consuming and costly process, depending on whether or not you have your own files and book cover already created. I believe it was worth it for me, but it may not be for everyone. I highly recommend doing research when making a decision such as this.
Please tell us about Love’s Misadventure.
Love’s Misadventure is an adventurous historical romance novel about two best friends. Miss Annabel Bradley refuses to accept life as a childless spinster. Her many years of pouring greedily over gothic novels has put her head in the clouds, dreaming and hoping for the love she reads about. She has come to accept that the man she has always held a tendre for, her best friend. Lane Mason, Seventh Earl of Devon, will never ask for her hand; he will surely have loftier prospects than a miss like her. She, therefore, decides to move on with her life and accept the proposal of the next suitor to ask.
Lane Mason is an average aristocrat; absorbed in life in general, and content with his status in society. Amid a frequently occurring moment of self-loathing, Lane shockingly discovers his feelings for Anna. Now armed with the awareness of his love for her, Lane decides to perpetrate a devilishly clever scheme. He will pay actors to abduct the two of them in order to give Anna the adventure she has been dreaming of.
Lane’s plans go awry, however, when they are kidnapped in truth…
I understand you are currently working on a sequel. Some writers are a little superstitious about revealing too much about their Works In Progress (WIPs). Would you care to give us a few hints about what yours is about, or would you prefer to keep it a secret until you’re finished writing it?
I’d be happy to tell you a little about my next novel! It is (tentatively) called ‘The Trouble With Love’. Lady Charlotte Mason is hopelessly in love with her best friend, Major Charles Bradley. Since his return from war, however, he has changed. He has stopped returning her letters, he gives her the cut direct, and when forced to interact with her, he is rude and downright mean. Her hopes for a marriage with Charles have been heartbreakingly dashed.
Major Charles Bradley is in a fix. The very same men that kidnapped his sister (Miss Annabel Bradley) and her new husband (Lord Devon) a few months past have given him a warning. They are coming after Charlotte. He has done his best to keep his two identities separate, but they are determined to clash. Despite doing his utmost to push Charlotte away from him for her protection, his love for her has been discovered by his greatest enemy.
Now comes his greatest challenge; he must protect Charlotte at any cost. But will his actions of the past months prove the task impossible?
I have the plots outlined for the other Mason siblings as well. The novel following Charlotte and Charles is about Lane and Charlotte’s younger sister, Lady Katherine Mason. We know that she loves to design and create clothing, but what we don’t know is that she has been leading a secret life… the life of a tailor! She secretly accepts a position to create a new wardrobe for known recluse, Lord Withington; one unfortunate soldier that lost an arm during the war. Under the guise of a young man, Katherine enters Lord Withington’s home in preparation for several weeks of work. What neither of them expects is the passion that sparks between them. Will it lead to true love?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
For those interested, I can be found on
Please feel free to visit my website cherichampagneauthor.blogspot.ca.
Thank you for taking the time away from your busy schedule to answer my questions, Cheri.
Thank you very much, Susan, for having me! It’s been fun!
It was my pleasure! 🙂
If anyone has more questions for Cheri, or would like to follow her writing exploits, please use the links provided above. Thanks for joining us, today, everyone!