Beth Kery: The Bestselling Romance Novelist on 'How I Did It'


While the friends and family of many authors may be able to say, “Yes, I knew she’d be a writer all along,” that was never really the case with me. The only thing I probably have in common with the development of most writers is that I’ve always been an avid reader. Until now, I’ve had an outer career and an inner career. Most of the world sees me as a professional clinician, but in my private world, I’m also the author of sexy romance novels. To most people, that might make no sense whatsoever; to me, though, it makes perfect sense because in my other world, I’m a psychologist. I know the depth and diversity of the human spirit and the power of hope, love and sex. Plus, I was fortunate enough to know firsthand that smart girls like to read sexy romance novels. Lawyers do it, executives do it, soldiers do it… and yes, even doctors of psychology do it.

Read other installments in our 'How I Did It' series with C.M. Wendleboe and Enid Shomer.

I wasn’t always so practical about my career wishes. Far from it. While I was in school years ago, I sent in a manuscript to Harlequin blind. I didn’t flaunt the fact that I’d written a book to my friends or most of my family. It turns out this secretiveness was a big mistake. The manuscript was eventually returned to me with pages and pages of suggestions for rewrites. Because I had kept myself separate from the writing community, I had no way of knowing that this was a ‘good’ rejection, that the editor wouldn’t have taken the time to make all these suggestions if she didn’t see some promise. Instead, I considered this a failure and threw away the manuscript.

Yes, I still cringe when I think about it today.

The writing bug just wouldn’t stop biting, though; it’s a persistent little monster. I’m glad for it. It took me over a decade after that first rejection, but I did write another book, successfully selling it to a small, independent publisher. I began joining writer's groups—both online and off. This, for me, was the key to moving forward with my writing career. Writing, by nature, is a very private process, being a successful author is not. Authors have to put themselves out there, go to conferences, find out what other writers are doing, discover what’s happening in the ever-changing marketplace and interact with readers.

wicked burn I sold Wicked Burn to Berkley Publishing in 2007, where it sold modestly well. Several more erotic romances followed with good critical response, but only moderate commercial success. In the next few years, I sold several contemporary romances to my first-hope publisher, Harlequin. Things were going well, but a breakthrough book—the book that pushed my name into a larger market—seemed to elude me.

Sometimes the circumstances have to be just right for the perfect storm. My perfect storm occurred last spring. A certain book had turned on the public to the idea of sexy romance—perhaps you’ve heard of this book? My editor contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in a new concept for this huge new market interested in erotic romance. With the advent of serialization in fanfiction, new reading technology making ebooks so popular and people’s busy lifestyles, Berkley wanted to try the concept of a serial ebook novel. No, it’s not a new idea—Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and many more published in serial format. It’s relatively new to this market, however. My editor wondered: Would I be up for trying a serial novel? She explained that it’d be fast-paced and demanding. Not having done it before, we’d all have to muddle through this fairly ambitious project together.

I was up for it all right.

Thus, Because You Are Mine, an eight-part serial novel was born. An installment came out weekly in ebook for eight weeks. It was one of the most fun, invigorating projects I’ve ever undertaken. As most authors know, by the time a book is published, it’s been anywhere from six to 18 months or more since the book was finished. In the case of Because You Are Mine, I was putting the finishing touches on the last part when the first part was being released.

I wasn’t the only person who felt the vibrant immediacy of the serial novel. Readers talked about how the week between installments encouraged them to think about the characters, to anticipate what might happen, to really let the story linger and steep. For many, there was a bonding experience on social media as people discussed the weekly ‘episode,’ similar to what might occur with a television show. The serial novel was not for all readers, obviously. There were those who said they preferred to gobble up the book in one bite, which is perfectly understandable. But for those who did like it, the story was a hit, making the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists for six weeks running. Because You Are Mine will eventually come out in print next January, but I wouldn’t have missed the freshness and the fun of the serialization for the world.

Beth Kery holds a doctorate in the behavioral sciences and loves to observe human beings in all their complicated, unique glory. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 30 novels and short stories, including the soon to be released novel in the One Night of Passion series, Exposed to You.


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