Books by Melissa Bowersock

Monday, October 7, 2013

Publishing Timeline

I recently read a blog post that talked about outlining an author's publishing history, a timeline of sorts. I thought that was an interesting idea. Here's mine:

1974: After quitting college, getting married, getting custody of my three step-kids and moving to Southern Oregon, I finally began writing in earnest.

1978: After sending one of my handwritten books to my mother to type up, unbeknownst to me she showed it to an agent she knew and he agreed to represent me.

1979: My agent sold my first historical romance, The Rare Breed, to Tower Books in New York.

1984: After the implosion of Tower Books and the buyout by Dorchester Publishing, my book was finally published, albeit under the title Love's Savage Destiny. 

1987: My second historical romance, Superstition Gold, was published by Dorchester, but with the name Love's Savage Embrace. Since my agent's attention had waned and he had stopped sending my books out (I sent the second book to Dorchester myself), I fired him and decided I didn't need an agent.

1999: After shopping a few of my next books around for years and getting no response from publishers, I discovered the new trend of author's showcase web sites online. I uploaded excerpts of several of my books on 

2000: I was approached by Elderberry Press, a vanity publisher, about publishing my spiritual fantasy. My title, The Sibling, evolved into Goddess Rising and was published in 2001. At the time, I was unschooled about vanity publishing but since traditional publishers had gotten extremely conservative about taking on new or little known authors, this seemed the way to go. It was expensive, but at the time it was worth it.

2002: New Concepts Publishing found me on Rosedog and published my satire on romance novels, The Pits of Passion by Amber Flame, as an e-book. This is one book I never thought anyone would publish, since it pokes fun at every sacred cow of the beloved romance genre and is a literal bodice-ripper.

2004: Draumr Publishing, a small traditional press, found me on Rosedog and published Remember Me, a contemporary romance. 

2005: Remember Me was chosen as a finalist in Foreword Magazine's Best of the Year Awards. After several printings, my first two books, the historical romances, went out of print and Dorchester reassigned the rights back to me. 

2006: Fortunately or unfortunately, I discovered PublishAmerica. I submitted my action/adventure book, Queen's Gold, to them and they agreed to publish. I quickly discovered their scam: setting the price of the book to three times what it should have been and their constant marketing to me to buy my own books on "sale." Another expensive lesson. 

2007: I discovered iUniverse, a relatively affordable (vanity) way to re-publish my first two books in order to keep them viable. I published them under my original titles. This was my first foray into what would eventually become self-publishing, my first experience with control over title, design, book cover and packaging.

2008: I discovered CreateSpace, Amazon's self-publishing company, and the joy of total control and truly affordable self-publishing. The learning curve was steep, but as I had several books ready to go, I plowed through and figured it all out by myself. 

2009: A banner year. I entered my fantasy novel, The Blue Crystal, in Amazon's Breakthru Novel Award contest. It made the semi-finals. When it did not win nor garner an offer of publishing, I went ahead and self-published it via CreateSpace. I also published my western action/adventure, The Appaloosa Connection and my contemporary romance, Lightning Strikes. With three self-published novels under my belt and after some discussion about the less-than-stellar sales of Goddess Rising, I came to a mutual agreement with Elderberry for my rights to revert back to me, and I self-published it through CreateSpace.   

2010: I finally convinced PublishAmerica that I was not going to buy any more of my book, Queen's Gold, from them, ever, and that of course no one else was going to, either, since the price was too high, and for a small "administrative fee" they agreed to release my rights back to me. I quickly self-published the book through CreateSpace. I also began my first non-fiction, the biography of my aunt who was an Army nurse and prisoner-of-war. 

2011: New Concepts reassigned the rights of The Pits of Passion back to me, and I published it through CreateSpace. I also self-published the biography of my aunt, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan. After much hesitation, I began blogging.

2012: I decided to cancel my agreements with iUniverse for both The Rare Breed and Superstition Gold, and once I had my rights back, I self-published them.

2013: I self-published my first paranormal novel, Stone's Ghost, about a ghost who haunts London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I conducted my first online book release party, ranging across Facebook, Twitter, my blog and several guest host's blogs. I also became a regular contributor to Indies Unlimited, an extremely supportive group that works hard to help indie authors by sharing our experience and knowledge. Draumr Publishing announced they were quitting business and reassigned my rights for Remember Me. This was my last book still held by a traditional publisher, and it's on my list to be revamped for self-publishing. At the same time, I got an idea for a new book and hammered it out in a mere 39 days--a personal best for me. Prior to this, the shortest amount of time it took me to write one book was 3 months. Stay tuned!


  1. I am stopping by as part of the IU Block Party. I am already following you but wanted to stop in and say hello.

  2. Hey, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the follow.

  3. Stopping by from Indies Unlimited. I loved reading your author timeline, which pretty much spans my lifetime! As someone who used to dream of being traditionally published (before I collected my share of rejection letters), it sounds like it's not necessarily all the wonderful things that some would like us to believe. Personally, I think self-publishing is fantastic and even if I never become successful at it, I'm just happy to finally have a method to get my own books professionally bound and on my bookshelf without needing to go into debt to do so. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Marla, thanks for stopping by. Glad this was helpful, if only to know that you're not alone in this long and surprising journey. Like you, I am sold on self-publishing, and obviously we know it's not the "overnight" phenomenon some people think it is. And success can be defined in many ways. If you made it this far, you are doing ok. I'll check out your books. Thanks for commenting.