Continuing our “Meet the Authors” series, let me introduce you to bestselling independent author Lara Reznik…
In 1983 I completed my first novel, Glorietta. My sister, Rita, was the only human who read and edited the manuscript from cover to cover. Bless her heart.
With the naiveté of a Chihuahua taking up residence with a pack of wolves, I soon began submitting my “baby” to agents. Like so many novice writers, I was convinced my semi-autobiographical novel would be hailed as the new great American novel followed by fame and fortune.
A good friend had an in with a Big-Shot agent, so I sent the manuscript to him. For the next few weeks, I checked the mail each day waiting for the ticket to my dreams. Weeks turned into months, and at some point, I lost hope of ever receiving a response. The question became should I call him? I agonized for another few weeks. To call or not to call.
Then one day a letter arrived from Mr. Big-Shot Agent. One sentence: “Too right on for me.” That was it. A summary of my life’s work in five words. Time for margaritas with my always-supportive husband.
It didn’t get better. After numerous other rejections, I finally received an offer with a caveat. I had to “pay” them to publish it. In those days, that was like telling someone their father cheated on his taxes. Mine worked for the IRS.
I stopped shopping the manuscript and wrote another novel. Many rejections later, I moved on to novel three. One day a fellow author showed me her screenplay. I’d never seen one before and had always thought screenwriters, weren’t real writers. However, after reading my colleague’s screenplay, I decided to give screenwriting a whirl. Heck, I could knock one out in a tenth the time of writing a novel.
I began reading Chris Vogler, Syd Field, and Michael Hauge, the gurus of how-to-screenwriting. Three months later, my first screenplay was born. Within two years, number two and three were added to my résumé.
If you think New York agents screw with your head, try Hollywood. In the next ten years I had three option agreements, two agents, and one manager, (don’t ask what’s the difference between an agent and manager). But did one of my scripts make it to the screen? Well, no. Did I see any $$$? Let’s just say, I didn’t quit my day job in I.T.
However, I received a lot of “this is the best thing I’ve read in years, awesome, fabulous,” etc., followed weeks later by receptionists responding to my calls with, “Lara who? No, Mr. Blankety Blank, (who formerly thought you walked-on-water), is on a conference call.”
Not even the courtesy of a response. How hard is it to write an e-mail and say, “Sorry, Lara, no longer interested?” I became quite depressed and completely stopped writing for two years. Then in 2010, with the encouragement of an author friend, I began writing novels again. I completed a psychological thriller, The Girl From Long Guyland, in November 2012. Without so much as sending out one query letter, I indie-published the novel on Amazon. The book ranked #1 overall in both Suspense and Contemporary Fiction during its Amazon promotional days with over 125,000 e-books downloaded. I marketed the book utilizing social media, online interviews, blog tours, and by promoting it on media sites such as the Free Kindle & Tips blog
Set against a 1969 psychedelic love-in backdrop, The Girl From Long Guyland is shared through the eyes of Laila Levin when decades later, an unsolved murder pulls her reluctantly into her past. A dramatic collision of then and now entwining family, marriage, profession and ethics. The novel has resonated with baby boomers who are now reflecting on different periods of their lives.
After the breakout success of Guyland, numerous author friends asked me to help them indie-publish their novels. Within months, I accepted a corporate severance package for my I.T. manager job, and created the predecessor to my current company, Enchanted Indie Press (EIP) established to guide other writers through the complicated maze of indie-publishing. I hired some of the best editors and graphic designers in the industry and personally focused my own efforts on marketing. Most indie-writers fail because they have no idea what to do after they launch their book on Amazon. That’s where EIP fills in a much-needed gap.
I recently published The M&M Boys, a coming-of-age historical fiction novel about a troubled little leaguer who lives next door to Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in the summer of 1961 as they compete to break Babe Ruth’s home run record.
The Girl From Long Guyland is a suspense/thriller, while The M&M Boys is historical fiction. My new book, Bagels & Salsa, will be romantic suspense. Would I recommend for authors to write in different genres? Absolutely not! An eclectic reader, I consciously have chosen this path contrary to my own marketing advice. At this stage of life, I can afford the luxury of writing about things that inspire me and worrying about the genre later. If there were a commonality my readers share I’d say that most are baby boomers. But not all. I’ve had reviews from millennial readers attracted to Guyland because of what my Kirkus Review called, “A timeless, universal tale of a woman’s journey toward self-acceptance. An exciting story of past crimes and dangerous friendships.”
My hope is if readers like my writing style they’ll try another one of my books regardless of genre. It appears to be working. My recent Amazon promotion of The M&M Boys resulted in over 35,000 downloads and 75 Amazon reviews.
My advice to aspiring authors: You’ll need a great cover, an engaging blurb and professional editing. In the end the work will speak for itself. Ultimately, talent and Lady Luck might not bring you fame and fortune. But for me, it’s brought the grand prize of connecting with thousands of readers. That’s this writer’s dream come true.