I made my first sale three years ago, February 2010. Some days I remember every detail of that day. Others, the excitement is old news. The rush of getting that email faded, leaving me little jaded and, I admit, a bit impatient with people who aren’t to that point yet. But I try to hold on to that rush, try to remember what it felt like to send in that book, then to find out that I really was good enough to be an author.
It all started with a niggling idea, years before. I think a lot of books start this way, and idea that just doesn’t go away. I never really considered writing it into a book, but one day I was a call for books about angels and demons and knew this idea would fit in perfectly. I wrote it, fussed over it, begged my friends to fuss over it. Someone told me to cut a chunk of the first chapter and I did. Not without tears and some internal whining, but deep down I knew she was right.
I went through all kinds of nervous flutters when I was putting the submission packet together. I couldn’t say how many times I checked and rechecked everything for typos. Finally I submitted, then chewed my nails until I got a reply email… with a form rejection.
Well, crud. I guess my angel story wasn’t perfect for the anthology after all.
But I had heard enough advice about submissions to know that the best thing to do was get that story right back out there. A quick tweak to my query letter, and it was off to a new publisher.
And I got another rejection, this one telling me that this was a romance publisher and they weren’t interested in general fiction.
I knew I had screwed something up big time. This was a romance, but my query letter and synopsis didn’t show the love story. I think I had taken it for granted they would understand there was a love story in there, and had concentrated my synopsis on the action plot.
I was lucky, though. One of my friends who is with the publisher intervened and I was granted permission to resend the story, with a corrected synopsis. I consider this my lucky break in this business, and a favor I will never forget.
My corrected synopsis made it past the slush reader and into the hands of an editor, and she emailed to ask me if I would be interested in a contract. (Um… yes please?) It took me four read throughs and having about a dozen friends read it to confirm I really had done it. I’d sold my first story.
Those days when I’m I’m feeling impatient, when I see the same question I answered last week being asked by someone new this week, I try to step back and remember that first sale. I bumbled my way through it thanks to the hand-holding and guidance of people who were probably answering the same questions for me that they’d answered the week before for someone else.
This is a business where friends are invaluable. knowing people with the knowledge and experience to guide you through those hard firsts can make the difference between getting an offer or getting another form rejection. So yeah, I get tired and impatient sometimes, but in the end, I want to be one of those friends who holds hands and helps people along.