Guest Post: How to Crack the Market in Your Own Country, by Jen Minkman

Shadow of Time book blog bannerI have been writing paranormal romance for almost three years now. When I first learned about the genre, it was through Stephenie Meyer’s books, which were a huge hit in Europe at the time, my own country, the Netherlands, included. Inspired by the storytelling and sheer scope of possibilities within the genre, I started writing my own book. The story was called Shadow of Time and it was a paranormal romance set in Navajo Nation, heavily influenced by Native American spirituality, mythology, and history. I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done yet, and in a sense, I was already doing that by writing in this genre — I was (to my knowledge) the first writer of the genre in the whole of Holland. So when I sent out the manuscript to several publishing houses, I more or less hoped they would jump at the chance to publish something in this bestselling genre which was written by one of their compatriots.

minkman_author-picI was wrong. Rejection after rejection found its way to my mailbox, and most of those rejection letters weren’t even saying I couldn’t write — they just said they couldn’t sufficiently market my book. Slowly, it started to dawn on me: why would publishers invest in a nobody like me when it was so much easier to acquire translation rights for a bestselling book from the U.S. or the UK? Goodbye, Jen Minkman, hello L. J. Smith.

Stubborn as I am, I just wouldn’t give up, though. I started sending my manuscript to publishers known for their publications of original Dutch and Belgian work. And the hard work paid off: in the summer of 2011, I found a small independent publisher who liked my manuscript enough to publish it. However, I had to take a detour. Since Ellessy Publications hadn’t published any paranormal romance books yet, they asked me to write a ‘normal’ romance first, in order to prepare their market segment for me and my work. I wrote a chicklit in one summer, and Back to School! (set in a Dutch high school in The Hague) saw the light of day in September 2012. My first book (which would be my second published book) is scheduled to follow later this year, in September 2013.

Shadow of Time coverIn the meantime, it had occurred to me that translating my own book into English might prove lucrative. At the very least, it would reach far more people than just the 23 million Dutch-speaking people in Holland and Belgium. So I took it upon me to re-write and translate my book into English (I come from a family of English teachers and am a teacher of the language myself) and asked a freelance editor from the U.S. to have a thorough look at it.

This is why the book is already available in English, but not yet in my native tongue. It turns out self-publication works a lot faster, despite all the hard work it took me to prepare the book for its international appearance.

The upside? I am already getting very good reviews for Shadow of Time, and this makes me more confident the book will sell well in my own country as well.

The downside? I feel like foreign readers will probably appreciate me and my books more than the people from my own country ever will, and that somehow saddens me. Who knows, though? They might learn about the title because of rave reviews abroad!

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