Thursday, June 9, 2011

Welcome Author Lilly Gayle

I'm so excited to welcome back my good friend and awesome author Lilly Gayle and she has a scary story to tell. So read on.

Autumn, thanks for having me on your blog today. The timing couldn’t be better since my first historical, Slightly Tarnished, was released last week. It’s now available in both print and e-book format from the publisher at and Amazon at .

And let me tell you, this book was a long time in the making. It was originally entitled American Beauty. I wrote it in 1999 and quickly found an agent. She requested ten hard copies via snail mail. That’s a lot of paper and ink. But I printed out all ten copies of the 350 page manuscript, packed it in the box a case of printer paper came in, and sent it to Colorado. I never heard from her again. All calls went straight to voice mail. Emails and certified letters went unanswered. To this day, I don’t know if she died, if aliens abducted her, or if she changed the title of the book and published it herself.

So, I sent the manuscript to publishers and other agents. And the rejections started rolling in. Then some time in 2001 or 2002, I got a call from an agent who wanted to take me on as a client. She then recommended an in-house editing service. It wasn’t cheap. But she said if I paid for her editing services, she could almost guarantee a publishing contract when the edits were done to her satisfaction. Color me na├»ve.

I wasn’t a member of any writing groups at the time, and I knew nothing about legit agents. But I did look her up online, and she had a professional looking website and a long client list. She had to be legit. Right?

Wrong! But I fell for it, hook, line, and credit card debt. Yep, I put that $2,500 editing fee on my credit card and anxiously awaited the edits. She mailed the manuscript back about a month later, and there were just a few red marks throughout.

At first, I thought it was because I was such a good writer. But as I looked over her edits, I started to wonder if she was a good editor. She marked spelling and punctuation errors any critique partner could have found—if I’d had one at the time. And she made a few suggestions about cutting a line here and there. She mentioned nothing about the plot or clarifying character motivation. Nothing about pacing. Or conflict. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Then, after I made the changes and sent the manuscript back, she sent me a contract for a marketing plan.

WTH? A marketing plan? Wasn’t that what an agent was supposed to do for her 15%? Market the damn book? Apparently not at her agency. And her cheapest marketing plan was $2,500!

That’s when I said, “Screw you and the horse you road in on.”

Okay, maybe I didn’t use those exact words. But I did call to say she ran a scam agency designed to defraud clients and take advantage of desperate wannabe writers. And I filed a complaint with the credit card company. But it was too late to get my money back. I’d paid for a service, and she provided it—crappy though it may have been. So, I filed a complaint with the company. Like that did any good! The agent actually said, “You’ll regret not signing with us. In this current literary climate, it’s impossible to find agents and publishers willing to work with new authors, and no agent or editor will provide the one on one service we provide here at The ****** Agency.”

Later, I went online and did my homework. That’s when I discovered Preditors and Editors. (Yes, predators is spelled that way.) The website had issued this warning for Agent X: Strongly not recommended. A literary agent with The ****** Agency. And more recently on 7/25/06: Agent X has a judgment against her in "Washington Superior Court (King County) for $8,320 for breach of contract, fraudulent business practice and consumer protection violations."

While surfing the net, I also found Romance Writers of America and a local writers’ group less than forty miles from my home. After joining RWA and Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, I learned legit agents don’t charge reading or editing fees or recommend in-house editing. A legit agent will charge 10-15% of sales and postage. Nothing more. If your agent charges fees, check them out before signing a contract.

I also found my critique partners through HCRW. And, I got a third agent—a legitimate agent this time. Unfortunately, that relationship didn’t work out, but that’s another story.

Then in 2005, I completed a paranormal romance and submitted it to Silhouette. The editor loved it and sent a revision letter. But after nearly two years, three revision letters, an editor change, and a line change, it was ultimately rejected. According to the second editor, the story wasn’t dark enough for the new line. Sometimes, luck and timing are everything. That’s when my longest standing critique partner, Amy Corwin, suggested I submit to The Wild Rose Press. So, I changed the name of the book to Out of the Darkness and submitted it. They published it last year.

The owners, editors, and marketing staff at TWRP are the best. They respond in a timely fashion and the books go to print faster than some publishers acknowledge receipt of an author’s manuscript. I was so impressed with TWRP, I revised American Beauty. Again. And changed the name to Slightly Tarnished. I submitted it a year ago. And Slightly Tarnished was released last week.

The Wild Rose Press is listed on Preditors and Editors. In 2008, the site had this to say: P&E is hearing good things about this publisher. And I 2009 and 2010, Preditors and Editors Poll results named TWRP as the number one e-publisher.

So, if you’ve never read a book by a TWRP author, now’s as good a time as any.

To learn more about Lilly Gayle, author of paranormal and historical romance: Where love is an adventure no matter the century. go to... &


Hurry! Time is running out. To enter to win a copy of my new release, IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL, pop over to my website and read the details. And, don't forget next Wednesday is my release day party, right here. Join me for a good time. AJ


  1. Ouch! So sorry you went through all of that. Now, with the internet, it is easier to research. And authors like you coming forward to share their story is a huge help.
    Congrats on Slightly Tarnished. May you have many sales

  2. What a terrible story - feel deeply for you! Fortunately, before I got stung, I did know about Preditors so I relied on them heavily when I was searching for a publisher. Congratulations on the release and many sales!

  3. Thanks Rita and P.L. I felt really stupid for awhile after getting suckered in by The ****** Agency. But bless my husband's heart, he never rubbed it in. Smart man. lol!

  4. Wow, Lilly. I'm so glad your story has a happy ending. Thanks for sharing your journey/cautionary tale. I'm sure you'll save many other writers from making the same mistake by spreading the word. Very kind of you! :)

  5. You have a great guy there, Lilly.

    Tell us little about your book. Can you share a blurp or short excerpt?

  6. What a horror Lilly! It's terrible how some businesses will take advantage of naivete like that. Thanks for bringing it to attention. Though I know there are those out there (after hearing stories like yours from those willing to share) it makes me feel better that those abused are willing to share and inform those who don't know. I'm happy you found groups and agents and TWRP! Good luck with your sales of Slightly Tarnished.

  7. Lilly, thanks for telling us readers the horrors of a great writer getting to the right publisher! From a reader's viewpoint, I am finding that the authors connected with Wild Rose Press to be amazing authors and I am enjoying reading their books. I have also met some of the authors and they are homefolks and so enjoyable to talk about books and anything in general. Kudos to the authors and to Wild Rose Press and to you Lilly!

  8. Personally, I think I've learned more from my mistakes in this life than from anything I got right the first time. Except for marriage. That's always a work in progress, but Autumn's right. I have a GREAT guy.
    Here's a blurb for Slightly Tarnished:
    Victorian romance laced with danger.

    When a brooding English earl with a SLIGHTLY TARNISHED reputation marries his dead wife’s American cousin to save her from her uncle’s vengeful schemes, the sea captain’s daughter with a taste for adventure sparks desires he thought long dead.

    Nicole Keller has always been headstrong and independent, but after a failed business venture and a sinking ship take her father, her home, and her childhood sweetheart, Nikki must support herself and her mother. But moving to England and marrying Chadwick Masters, Earl of Gilchrest isn’t what she has in mind. And falling in love with the mysterious earl could endanger both their lives.

    And here's an excerpt:

    “This will be your room.” He opened the door and stood to one side so she could enter. “I’m afraid you will have to continue to make do without a lady’s maid. The only household staff I employ are Mrs. Lomax, Dickens, Cook, and my groom. My driver lives in the village as do the few maids I hire on occasion to help Mrs. Lomax with the laundry and heavier cleaning.”
    Nikki smiled. “That’s quite all right, Lord Masters. I’m used to doing for myself, and it’s only for a week.”
    He returned her smile and leaned forward, his warm breath fanning her cheek. “What happened to Chad? Surely we’ve gone beyond such formalities now, Nicole.”
    Gooseflesh rippled over her skin. Her body quivered. “I don’t think it would be proper for me to call you by your given name.” She risked a glance at his face and wished she hadn’t. His eyes no longer looked worried. They were hot—almost feverish. Her skin heated.
    “It didn’t stop you before,” he said, his deep voice a husky rumble. Despite the heat, Nikki shivered.
    Oh my!
    “I don’t think this is proper either,” she stammered when he brushed his lips against her temple. A delicious tingle skittered down her spine.
    “No, probably not,” he said, nibbling her neck.
    A strange tension rippled through her muscles, tightening them with pleasure. She arched her neck, granting him access as he slid his lips along the column of her throat. Her hands bunched the skirt of her plain, serviceable dress. Her stomach quivered.
    “What are you doing?” she asked, breathless and giddy.
    He pulled his hands from his pockets and pulled her closer. “I’m seducing you, I think.”
    “Seducing me?” Her heart hammered against her ribs.
    “Hmm. You’re doing it again.” Then he lowered his mouth and kissed her.

  9. Hi Lilly,

    Yikes, that is a horror story. How horrible...what a downer way to first look into the publishing world. It makes me so mad there are people out there like that.

    So glad things went in the right direction for you! Congrats on your release! I wish you many sales.

  10. So sorry you had all that happen to you. Publishing lessons can sometimes hurt alot. This post should be in an RWA newsletter to get passed around and to help others. Scam artists live to destroy the dreams of writers.

  11. Wow, Lilly, I can soooo relate. The same thing happened to me, but the scam agency only took me for around $500. I also found out the owner of the company had fraud charges brought against him through Preditors and Editors. It pays to check out the companies you submit to!! So sorry you went through such a nightmare.

  12. I too, have a horror story. An "agent" offered to help me put my book proposal together (because apparently the one I sent him wasn't good enough) for $5,000 to $10,000. And he said mail him the cheque first and he'll forward along the agreement between us. I told him no thanks but it was a discouraging experience. Well at least I didn't give him the money!

  13. Lily, so sorry you had such a terrible experience with that rip off agent. I also had a terrible experience with an agent who is no longer in business. What a nightmare! We are lucky to have found The Wild Rose Press, aren't we? Best of luck with your new book!

  14. Thanks everyone for the sympathy. Now that I'm published, I feel vindicated. Now, if only I can earn that $2,500 back. lol!

  15. How heartbreaking, Lilly! Hard lesson to learn. Congrats on sticking with the book though and the new release. Actually I'm a new Wild Rose Press author and I used your bookcover as a sample of one I liked.

  16. You've definitely earned the right to be published after a long and bumpy road like you traveled. I am so glad you never gave up and now are reaping the rewards. I've always heard good things from TWRP. Best of luck with continued success. It was nice to get to know you today.

    Waving Autumn!!

  17. Hi, Paisley. ((Waving back)) I'm glad you stopped by.

    Hey, Di. Welcome to the TWR garden. You'll love it.

    I agree. I think Lilly should share her story. Spread the word, ladies, and have your friends stop over.

  18. I'm very, very sorry to read about your ordeal. tough learning curve, for sure, and what makes me sad is that I'm sure this has happened to far too many writers. That's why it is so important to join a writer's group, and RWA has done a fantastic job of educating its members.

    Let's hope your story keeps another author from repeating your mistake.

    Thanks for sharing.

  19. Ah, Diana, Thanks! And welcome to the garden! Paisley, TWRP treats it's authors well. Give 'em a try! And AMEN< Lynne. So glad I found HCRW and The Wild Rose Press!