What’s next? What came first? Let’s see. I wrote as a girl. I wrote as a teen. I had teachers that told me not to and that I wasn’t any good, and sadly, I listened. I put aside my writing and became an actress. Luckily, I was pretty good and I worked a lot. I made a decent living. However, along the way, I realized in order to become a star, I needed projects, and the best way to do that was to write one for myself.
Typical me, I got right on it. I took classes. We read each other’s screenplays out loud. I learned. I studied. I wrote romantic comedies as well as thrillers. I was lucky enough to sell a show for which I created the format on television. But I couldn’t entice an agent to love my work and put me on the fast track.
Soon after, I moved out of state for my husband’s career. I couldn’t very well take a meeting (Hollywood speak for have lunch and chat about a project) from 3,000 miles away, so what did I do? I gave up screenwriting and decided I could still write…novels. But which genre? I loved mysteries. I loved thrillers. I wasn’t into rom-com. I decided upon suspense as well as mystery, and I started taking more classes. I joined Sisters in Crime and joined critique groups. I learned a ton!!! Then I submitted to agents. Over and over!! I was the rejection queen in my Sisters in Crime online group, the Guppies.
Finally I landed a contract to write the Cheese Shop Mysteries and that sealed my fate. I became known as a cozy mystery author. I followed that series with the Cookbook Nook Mysteries and narrowed my fate even more. I am currently known as a culinary cozy mystery author. I know cheese; I know cookbooks; I happen to be a cook. Presto!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I love my fans. I have a great career.
So why self-publish a suspense novel like GIRL ON THE RUN? Because I want to see if I can.
You see, I still love writing suspense. Love it! And I wondered if my stories would resonate with my fans. I have a pretty darned good fan base! Not to mention, I still have eight suspense/thriller manuscripts on my shelves (or in my computer), and I’m wondering whether there is a future for them.
So far, thanks to my early-reader fans (beta readers) I’m finding that Girl on the Run is resonating. They are delighted with the story. The reviews they have posted on Goodreads (they can’t post on Amazon until the book releases) have been enthusiastic to the max and extremely heartwarming for me.
Does this mean I’ll throw over traditional publishing? No! I really like being published by a reputable publisher. I love working with Berkley Prime Crime. They have been very good to me.
However, when I asked my agent to market Girl on the Run, which had a different title at the time, my publisher and a few other publishers weren’t interested for a couple of reasons.
One: It wasn’t as tightly written as it is now. I rewrote it after the publishers rejected it. I took their notes to heart, and I was brutal to my baby. I cut out 40 pages and a few unnecessary points of view. The result is a tighter read with a faster pace.
Two: I wasn’t a known suspense author. Publishers really don’t like to switch an author’s brand midstream. They want to buy the known commodity. So do fans. I am a cozy mystery author. Period. There will be plenty of my fans that won’t want to read Girl on the Run based on that alone. Sigh.
Caveat to my devoted cozy mystery readers: Girl on the Run does not have any bad language, there is no explicit sex, and most of the crime happens off the page. The story is about Chessa, on the run, in search of the truth. It’s not a cozy but it’s not spooky, scary, or gross, and no children or animals were harmed during the making of this book! There are no recipes included.
So, therefore, as a suspense author, I am starting over.
I’m looking for a new audience or trying to expand my current audience. What is my brand? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s: I’m a California girl! I will set all of my thrillers somewhere in California. And I’m a thrill-seeker. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by myself. Definitely not cozy.
But let’s address the initial question: what’s next?
I have a few cozy mystery proposals with publishers right now. We’ll see if they want to sign new contracts. I have to admit I have enjoyed the process of self-publishing. It has been a blast!
And, as I mentioned, I do have more suspense novels written, but I will need to rewrite them, and I will have to be even more brutal than I was with GIRL ON THE RUN. So there is possibly another one to eight self-published suspense novels on the horizon. One a year? We’ll see.
FYI, my virtual assistant has been invaluable in this project! I could not have done it without her. I would have been pulling my hair out. She has taught me the ins and outs of social media and self-publishing. Everyone deserves her as a mentor!
Also coming up: GRILLING THE SUBJECT, the 5th in my Cookbook Nook Mystery series debuts August. I’m writing the 6th in the series, although I don’t have a contract for that yet. If I don’t get one, because who knows what will happen in this volatile publishing world, I’ll self-publish it.
My motto has become “One day at a time, one step at a time.”
Life has changed drastically for me over this past year. I intend to pay attention to what life has to offer, whether in my writing or in my personal life and family life, and I intend to to drink it in: One sip at a time.
Savor the mystery.
About the Author: Daryl Wood Gerber
Agatha Award-winning and bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense with her debut novel, GIRL ON THE RUN. Daryl also writes the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and as Avery Aames, she pens the Cheese Shop Mysteries.
Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. She has also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. She loves to read and has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.