From Renegade Writer to Publisher

My guest today, Mary Chase Comstock, is the founder of Renegade Publications, a boutique publishing company that represents “novels of romance, humor and intrigue—like the ones you used to love.”

Mary is here today to tell you about her journey from renegade writer to publisher.

And she’s looking for a few writers to represent!

And so, without further ado, here’s Mary.

Photo courtesy of Mary Chase Comstock.
Photo courtesy of Mary Chase Comstock.

A couple of years ago when I was filling in the information for my first Kindle book, The Fool’s Journey, I came to a field marked “Publisher” and paused. I didn’t have a publisher, (though not for lack of trying!).

The Fool’s Journey was the book of my heart, and even though I’d been traditionally published as a Regency author for several years, I couldn’t get editors or even agents to take this one on. It had won contests and a loyal contingency of fans wanted to see it published. Besides, I’d worked on it for 15 years and I was tired of it gathering dust. I needed to send it off into the world so I could get on with other projects. That’s what led me to self-publishing, something I’d always scoffed at before. It was also the first time I would make significant money on my writing.

“Publisher” was an optional piece of information in the online form, but I typed the first thing that came into my head anyway, RenegadeBooks. It said something about me as a writer—I was a renegade. I’d never really believed that editors knew what the market wanted. In fact, referring to readers as a “market” was a little insulting.

Over the next several months, I followed Fool’s Journey with my backlist of Regencies as the old rights reverted. I enjoyed tweaking the books, designing the covers, learning about marketing.

Then I started thinking about other writers I knew who were renegades too. Renegade Publications was about to be born. My friend and critique group member, Margaret O’Neil, had written several great romances, but editors and agents didn’t want her stories. They broke the rules.

Margaret was my first author, with Million Dollar Wife. We worked together to get her books ready for publication. I designed the covers and managed her promotions. Then, she began to find a monthly income coming her way. Next came Carol Duncan Perry’s backlist of Arkansas-set romantic suspense, and I’ve just added Nadine Miller to my group with her backlist of traditional Regencies.

Finally, it occurred to me that I was onto something.  Books were selling. I was taking 10% and liking it. My writers liked getting personal attention. I started thinking about what defined this minuscule publishing house:

RenegadeBooks is small.
I am the only staff member, so small is necessary. I also teach writing, wrangle two dogs and acclimate to having my retired husband at home.

Small is good.
I like being able to respond to my writers immediately, sometimes several times a day. Their writing is important and so is their input.

RenegadeBooks is a little different, but so are its authors.
–Our authors are talented writers.
–They either have a backlist of traditionally published books, or completed novels they—and others—believe in.
–They want to be a part of the publishing process, but they don’t want to deal with the technology.

Photo courtesy of Mary Chase Comstock.
Photo courtesy of Mary Chase Comstock.

Our books reflect traditional romance sensibility.
Our books certainly are not prudish, but love is at their center, not sex.  If there are sex scenes, they are central to the plot. If you want to know more, read Peter Jordan’s Marriage by Margaret O’Neil.

I’m finding there are a lot of readers who appreciate a little old fashioned romance, with a little sizzle in all the right places. I’m interested in adding a few more writers who fit the bill—four to five this year and more later. If you’re interested, visit our website:

http://www.renegadepublications.com/

About Mary:
Mary is the author of five Regency Romances. She took a break from writing to vanquish breast cancer, and, fully recovered, is working on five books in a variety of genres using a visual mapping technique. Her newest book, The Fool’s Journey, is a contemporary romantic suspense. Mary holds a Ph.D .in Literacy, Language and Culture, and has taught writing classes at all levels. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her Scottish Terrier, Irish Wolfhound and Brazilian husband. Visit her blog at: http://nulla-mary.blogspot.com/.

What about you? If you enjoy reading romance, what heat level do you prefer? If you write romance, what heat level do you write?

 

4 comments on… “From Renegade Writer to Publisher”

  1. Congrats on your new company, Mary! I’m certain you will find many writers who share your sentiments about loving “old fashioned romance” and wanting to work with a small publishing house. Teaching writing is no simple task, and the fact that you are taking that passion to a new vista by helping writers get their work published is a wonderful thing. I wish you great success!


    • Mary Chase Comstock


      Thanks, Suzanne! Writing of all kinds makes the world a better place–I’m happy we’re all a part of it!

  2. Sounds like Mary is an opportunist and it’s paying off for her. I’ll definitely check out the website.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    • Mary Chase Comstock


      Well, it’s an opportunity for everyone. I really believe that the more of us on the planet who spend our time reading and writing, the better!

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