From Imagination To Publication

Thursday, August 17, 2017

MY PUBLISHING JOURNEY: Author Vanessa Fewings

Have you ever wondered how authors get their start?
How do they get agents?
How do they get published?
Is it luck? Talent? Drive?

This segment is an attempt to satisfy my immense answer the one question I'm dying to ask every author out there: How did your book become a book?

Visit the full catalogue of "My Publishing Journey" interviews HERE.

Today's Featured Author

Vanessa Fewings
USA TODAY Best-Selling Author of
The Icon Trilogy
The Enthrall Sessions

This is a special interview for me. I met Vanessa Fewings through a mutual publisher years ago. Since then, we've both moved away from that publishing company, but still enjoy keeping in touch. She was always such a positive inspiration to me. Vanessa's story is unique because she has been through it all. She started out published by a small press, got her rights back to self-publish, became VERY successful self-publishing her work, and ultimately ended up landing an amazing agent and three book deal with Harlequin. Her journey proves that with talent, perseverance, and passion, success is inevitable!

Welcome Vanessa!

Thank you so much, Jessica, for inviting me over! I’m thrilled to be here. 


Do you have an agent?
Yes, I am exceptionally lucky as I’m represented by premier literary agent Kimberly Whalen.
How many queries did you send?
I believe I didn’t send out that many before I was picked up by a Los Angeles literary manager – books to film – but when the opportunity came to be represented by Kimberly I jumped at the chance and still have to pinch myself that I’m repped by the most respected agent in the industry. Dreams really do come true!

If represented, how long did it take to get your agent?
I published my first vampire novel (THE STONE MASTERS VAMPIRE SERIES) in 2006, though when I started writing romance it was about 3 years before I landed an agent.

If you have an agent, can you copy and paste your successful query letter for others to reference?
I actually emailed Kimberly and the gist of my letter was that as I had worked really hard to become a successful indie author I now felt I had a lot to bring to an agent and traditional publisher (Top 5.) My erotic romance series The ENTHRALL SESSIONS had taken off and was selling thousands of copies so I had a solid brand to offer others and proof of a passionate work ethic. 

Publishers want to see you can meet deadlines, provide quality manuscripts, respond well to editor’s notes, and generally be pleasant to work with. At every step of the way I’m incredibly grateful.   


How did you (or your agent) find your publisher?
Any manuscript coming from Kimberly gets priority. She’s that good! She also works with you to make sure your manuscript is good enough for submission. Time is so valuable for busy publishers.

How long did it take to find a publisher?
I believe it was within weeks. We submitted my ICON Trilogy and it found an incredible publisher with HarperCollins: HQN Books (Harlequin). I was and still am thrilled for my characters Zara and Tobias to have found such a great home.

What do you like about your publisher?
Quite simply everything.  I was assigned to editor Ann Leslie Tuttle, who gave great feedback. The communication is fabulous. They really are going all out to promote the series and get it into reader’s hands. 

What do you dislike about your publisher?
They tease us with too many chocolate desserts at their annual party!  No, seriously, I don’t dislike anything. I’m thrilled to be published by Harlequin.

Did you or your agent hit any snags along the way, and if so how did you overcome them?
No real snags. The communication is great and the response is always professional and pro-author.

Did traditional publishing get your book(s) in Barnes & Noble or other bookstores?
Yes, one of the greatest highlights of my publishing career was to see my books in Barnes & Noble.  I write because of my passion for it. If you’re a writer who dreams of seeing your books in the stores keep going. You’ll get there. Keep mastering  your craft and building your brand. I promise you it’s worth it.

Oh, and seeing my books in Ralphs, our local grocery store, blew me away! I might have moved the price sticker off my character’s faces when I saw it for sale and then put it back on the shelf. ;)

Did your publisher produce a hardcover of your book or just paperback?
Just paperback. It’s gorgeous by the way, go check it out. All of the books in the ICON series are.

Did your publisher create an audiobook for you?
Yes, and it’s narrated by British actress Morag Sims, who is super talented. 


What made you decide to self pub?
Prior to being represented by Kimberly, I had seen the success of other indie authors in the romance genre and knew it was a great time to release ENTHRALL, my first erotic romance novel. What followed was an amazing self-publishing journey that has now seen the books hit the USA Today bestsellers list as well as being translated into French with J’ai Pour Elle, a premier publisher. I absolutely love hearing from my French fans.   

It’s an exciting time for indie authors getting traditional deals abroad with exceptional foreign publishers. This deal came through my agent but you can reach out to foreign publishers or acquire a foreign rights agent.

Did you do everything yourself (such as cover design, formatting, etc.) or did you hire out?
I love every aspect of indie publishing. Yes, I designed and created the first three books in the ENTHRALL series, but had help with professional designers for the novellas in the same series as we were going for a more complicated appearance to  incorporate the chandeliers which is the ENTHRALL brand.

I send my files to eBook Launch for formatting. They are fantastic, quick, and thorough and make changes when needed.  When it comes to editing, I’ve been lucky to work with great professional editors and now I am with the editor Debbie Kuhn for my indie books. Many readers have mentioned they didn’t know the books are in fact indie. I wasn’t trying to hide the fact I just wanted to provide the best quality book for my fans. 

Which platform (such as Createspace) do you self-publish through?
I use Createspace for paperbacks. Draft 2 Digital for my eBooks, as well as uploading directly to Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and Smashwords. With my traditional books they are on many sites including Harlequin. 

Have you researched or considered getting a hardcover printed of your book? What about audio?
I only have one hardcover book. All my books are on audio other than my vampire series. I choose the audio narrators myself, though with Harlequin they chose Morag Sims, who I adore reading as Zara.

We recently released CAMERON’S CONTROL and CAMERON’S CONTRACT in audio narrated by superstar narrator Sebastian York and he’s incredible as Cameron Cole from my ENTHRALL SESSIONS. He’s a beloved book boyfriend and my fans are so excited to listen to them. Right now, three of the audiobooks in the ENTHRALL SESSIONS are in the erotic romance audiobook bestsellers list on Amazon.    

What do you like about self-publishing?
I love being in control of my publishing release dates, deciding on the book cover art, and most of all being part of the indie community. The other authors are incredible and supportive. The readers, well, they are so close to my heart and I love messaging them and keeping in touch.

Then there’s the bloggers and reviewers, the lifeblood of our community. We couldn’t do this without them. They get news of our books out there and help promote us and all in their free time. Many have become close friends. It’s a symbiotic relationship. 

What do you dislike about self-publishing?
Nothing really, there’s this wonderful sense of control and giving the readers/fans what they love. I’m filled with gratitude for being able to do what I love everyday as a full-time author. 

I consider myself a hybrid-author.

I’ll be releasing an indie book in early 2018 – ENTHRALL FOREVER. Then, after that, I’ll write a novel for my agent to take out for consideration as a traditional series. 


What marketing tactics worked for you?
There are so many ways to market but Book Blog tours are great. To be honest, I won’t launch a book without them. I’m with Buoni Amici Press PR, and Debra and Drue rock the promotions!  They’ve worked with many of the top authors both traditional and indie. They know the industry well and are flexible as the world of publishing evolves.

A BookBub promotion will garner you great results. I absolutely love the team over there and couldn’t recommend them more. Getting a BookBub promotion isn’t easy because they have such high standards, but if you nab a promotion they really will help an author grow awareness. You can open an author partner profile on their site. I highly recommend it as when you release a new book they’ll notify your readers.

Also, I am a believer in getting your books on all platforms. iBooks is an essential part of my platform and they really work well with authors to build their brand. Loyalty is key and it works both ways. I know some authors are exclusive to Amazon but for me, I’ve never found that as successful as making sure my readers can get my books anywhere. It’s about them, after-all.

Make sure you’re on Goodreads! It takes time to grow an audience over there but that’s where all the readers are hanging out. Be gracious with everyone. It’s their place to read and review and I feel very much a guest as I do a member.  
If you are traditionally published, what did your publisher do to market your book?
I’m working with their publicist Lisa Wray, who is exceptional! She’s getting the word out to top level readers, reviewers, bloggers and TV and radio networks. The publisher even placed a large add in Life & Style magazine.

You’ll be expected to promote too, so be prepared for that part of being a modern day author.   


Looking back would you do anything differently?
Yes, I would have independently published my vampire series back when Amanda Hocking published on Amazon KDP and hit it big. I went with a small publisher as I was pretty naive back then. Still, this has been an incredible journey and I know my writing has improved over time and my knowledge of the industry has grown so I’m pretty much ready for anything.   

What lessons have you learned? Any advice for those about to go down your path?
The best lesson is that it’s a journey. There’ll be this instinct to try to get ahead quickly, but take a breath, study your craft, enjoy every aspect from your first book signing to seeing your books go live for sale! It takes time for readers to grow to trust you’ll deliver quality books in your genre that meet their expectations.

We write for our readers and they’re everything! 

Can you provide names and/or contacts for the following?
Agent: The Whalen Agency
Publisher: HarperCollins / Harlequin
Formatter: Ebook Launch
Cover Designer: Michelle Catalano
Audiobook: ACX
Promotion and/or marketing:
Buoni Amici Press PR
Blog Tour Organizer, etc.: 
Buoni Amici Press PR
Website Designer: Laird Sapir


This is the world of the forbidden. This is the embrace of Enthrall. 

Experience the USA Today bestselling novel that introduced readers around the globe to Mia Lauren and her breathtaking journey into the seductive world of Enthrall, the most exclusive BDSM club in Los Angeles. 

Mia Lauren is a single, twenty-one-year old working in a West Hollywood art store who dreams of one day becoming a fashion designer. When an unexpected offer arises to work at Enthrall, L.A.'s premier fetish club for the wealthy, Mia accepts. It's a salary beyond her wildest imagination.

Mia becomes the secretary to the club's assistant director, blond and broody Richard Booth. Richard is not only one of L.A.'s most beautiful and wealthiest men, he is also the club's senior dominant. Mia is both drawn and terrified when he reveals flashes of his white-hot passion, threatening an unbound pleasure like no other. She knows her attraction may be her undoing, but the spellbinding feelings render her powerless to resist his advances. 

What Mia cannot know is that Enthrall's dashing founder and director thirty-four year old Cameron Cole, who is also the club's psychiatrist, has lured Mia to save his best friend and patient Richard from his obsession with thrill seeking. Cameron masterfully sets up sexy scenarios to ensure the collision of Richard and Mia, hoping that love will save him. 

However, despite Cameron's noble intentions, he also finds himself enticed by Mia's haunting innocence. Passion and pleasure stir, forming a dangerous love triangle. This is the world of the forbidden. This is the embrace of Enthrall.

Don't miss The Chase, the first in a sizzling new romantic trilogy from USA Today bestselling author Vanessa Fewings and HQN Books.

Will she risk it all for a priceless desire?

A rising star in one of London's top art investigation firms, Zara Leighton's talent for seeing deep into paintings is in her blood. She's chosen to help track down Icon, an enigmatic international art thief whose heists are methodical, daring, baffling. To Zara the case is maddening—bordering on an obsession.

She finds distraction in the chiseled form of top-shelf client Tobias Wilder, a magnetic American billionaire who demands her expertise, her discretion—and her secrecy. Wilder doesn't ask questions. He gives orders. His gaze alone ignites her deepest fantasies. And his touch…

The sudden whirl of exclusive exhibitions and decadent parties that Wilder introduces her to is a potent aphrodisiac. But surrender soon becomes tinged with suspicion. Is Zara's tryst with Wilder the real thing…or just a convincing forgery?


  1. I tried to write for Harlequin back in the day...we didn't have to have an agent back then. However, that may have been what I was missing! We were advised not to get one, since their contracts were boilerplate, but having someone help me determine what they wanted and hone my manuscripts to give me a better chance might have helped!

    1. I'd love the chance to submit directly to a big publisher! So cool that you were able to do that.