Crimson Anniversary Post: 5 Things No One Tells You to Expect When You Become a Published Romance Novelist

By Micah Persell, author of Of Eternal LifeOf the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition

Of Eternal Life1. You hear about something terrible and immediately imagine how you could put it in a book

This is a terrible, terrible writer-hazard. You’re with a group of people, someone tells an awful story about the time their boyfriend swindled them out of thousands of dollars or their neighbor turned out to be a notorious bank robber, and you know the correct, accepted social response is “Oh, that’s terrible,” but all you can do is look around frantically for a cocktail napkin and a pen, because you really need that extra oomph of horrible for your current villain, and this is just perfect. You stand there and try to maintain eye contact and make the expected sympathetic noises, but your eye starts to twitch, and you can’t keep your foot from tapping. Astonishingly enough, friends are not made this way…

2. All of your dietary choices hinge on what will and will not make your keyboard dirty

It is a sad truth that while you are writing, whatever you eat needs to be quick, easy to toss into your mouth, and mess-free. This cuts out a lot. There are some foods that fit into two categories, but not all three – Cheetos, anyone? Quick and easy to eat, but once you have a crust of orange covering 75% of the keys of your computer, you realize you made a gross tactical error. Sadly, nutritional value is not a factor when choosing writing food. “The Freshman Fifteen” is looked upon fondly compared to what we authors gain the first year after publishing.

3. Your house is never cleaner than when you’re on a deadline

Your book is due tomorrow. Tomorrow! You’re sitting in front of your computer, fingers poised and ready to go. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice the fine layer of dust on the desk. “No,” you tell yourself firmly, forcing your eyes back to the screen. “It’s nothing; forget about it.” Two seconds later, your eyes are slowly drifting to the right again. The dust…is it worse than it was a moment ago? Okay, you seriously cannot work in these conditions. Your nose feels stuffy – it’s obviously because your office is covered in filth. You grab the Pledge, fix the problem, and are sighing in relief as you walk back to the cabinet to return the cleaning supplies. Wait a second—is that a stain on the tile?

4. You spend more time writing sex than having it

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty darn proud of my love scenes. They are scorching! Filled with romance and sweat and gasps of pleasure. I spend hours, days even, perfecting every touch, every word. When I finally deem a love scene complete, I’m incredibly satisfied. And really, really tired. Love scenes take more emotional investment than any other scene in a book, except, maybe, the climax. So when I close that laptop and drag my feet towards the bedroom, the last thing I want to do is have sex. Which, of course, my poor husband is ecstatic about. One of my favorite statistics is that women who read romance novels have sex 70% more frequently than women who do not. 70%! That’s pretty incredible. Alas, a poll of romance novel authors would be severely less impressive.

5. Every reader becomes a friend

There are no words to describe the pleasure I feel whenever a reader talks about one of my books. Every e-mail is treasured, every review read – and I am always, always thankful for every one of them, even the bad e-mails and reviews. That last part was the most surprising thing I learned over the past year. 5-star reviews are incredible; a gushing e-mail from a fan can make my month. However, the bad reviews—the ones that pinpoint a part of my writing that I can fix next time—those reviews are invaluable. If you make me feel good about myself, I will love you forever; if you make me a better writer, I will be grateful forever. Either way, I smile and wish I could buy you a coffee and give you a hug.