Right, I've taken my courage in my hands and uploaded the first three chapters of my first novel - rejected by at least 20 agents - to Authonomy, the HarperCollins website for authors and readers.
I had put it in a metaphorical drawer but having read about Authonomy in my latest writing magazine, I decided I had nothing to lose. Except all confidence when people say horrid things about it.
I had a Mills & Boon night last night. They celebrated their centenary last year and to mark the fact there were a couple of programmes on television before Christmas, and I finally got round to watching them. The first was a drama, set in three locations and time zones: at the beginning of M&B, with a new author in the seventies, and an up-to-date college tutor who lectured about the books.
This was followed by a 'How to write for Mills & Boon' documentary in which a well-known literary novelist, Stella Duffy, tried her hand at meeting the criteria set out for would-be M&B authors. She managed to wangle a trip to Tuscany for a writing course specifically for prospective M&B authors. I'd have done it for half what they probably paid her!
It was fascinating. Out of the 2,000 - 3,000 manuscripts M&B receive each year, they take on about 20 authors, and they sell millions of books worldwide. (Actually now I think about it, that's not bad odds. Comparatively.) Did you know M&B had an erotic imprint with graphic sex? And even the Romance imprint allows fairly raunchy sex.
Divorce, sex outside marriage and independent women are all allowed but the story guidelines are still fairly rigid.
Basically the hero still has to be strong Alpha male, probably arrogant and rich, who finally succumbs to the feisty female.
Just like real life then.
But that's the point. It was always intended as escapism for the masses. Making books available at a price the working man could afford was Mr Boon's intention. And that has to be admired.