Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writer Wednesday: How I got my editor (the slightly long version).

I know published authors rarely make a ton of money,but this pic was too funny to pass up!

**I wrote this at midnight, so please forgive my numerous grammar and spelling mistakes. :) **

Okay, my Oasis sisters wanted me to write a little bit about how I got my publishing deal.  And, silly me, went “oh sure! That’ll be easy!”  Then I sat down to write the post and I realized, I didn’t know where to start. 

However, like with any story, it’s best to start in the beginning, when things changed for the MC, so this might be a bit long. 

For me, this day would be the day I sat with my leg in a cast, my infant daughter asleep next to me, and nothing but time and worry on my mind.  I was staring at a blank TV screen and thinking about the dream I’d had the night before of my uncle, who’d passed away 6 years ago, telling me to write it.  At the time I had no idea what he meant, but then it hit me.  He meant to write a book!

So, that’s what I did.  I wrote in a flurry of sleepless nights, and a month later I had it.  I took 2 months to edit it, and then I sent it off, confident that it was the next best thing.  I got my first rejection and I started laughing. “Everyone gets rejections, it’s fine,” I thought, with a smile.  I tucked the rejection in a drawer and subbed it to more agents.

In the meantime, I continued to write.  A whole SERIES of books based on the first one.  I was still confident that I would find an agent pretty quickly.  It wasn’t until I’d reached about 30 queries that I realized it wasn’t that great after all and maybe I should get help.  I joined critiquing site after critiquing site.  

In the meantime, I wrote a contemporary category adult romance and, I found a beta reader to read it before sending it out.  I waited patiently for her to read it; positive she’d love it.  What I got instead, was someone who pointed out ALL of the flaws, right down to those darned dangling participles.  : P

I cursed her (in my head), yelled at my husband when he didn’t feel sorry for me, pouted, then, finally, agreed with her. I emailed her back and asked her to please continue tearing it apart, being as “nitpicky” as she could.  (She doesn’t know all this, because I never told her, but now she will.)

This person is now my best friend and fabulous crit partner, Liz Czukas.  (<3 you!) 

Feeling more confident than ever, I queried again, but only sent about 5 before I realized I just didn’t want this book to be my debut.  I wanted to write Science Fiction Young Adult. 

So, I wrote another book, had Liz tear it apart as I was writing it, then gave it to my other best friend/beta reader, then finally about 5 more beta readers (people I didn’t know) before querying again.

I started with small batches of carefully picked agents, and immediately got requests.  Already I was doing SO MUCH better!  But I wanted even better, so I joined YALITCHAT.ORG, where I took advantage of the first 5 pages and query crits, and where I met my other best friend/crit partner, Larissa Hardesty.

In the meantime, I was scouring for the perfect agent.  And then, I found her.  She was a new agent, at a fantastic agency and she was looking for exactly what I had.  So I flipped over to her site, and it was like being hit by ice water.  They only took snail mail queries and the proposal needed to include the first 50 pages not to mention they only respond if interested.

I knew I couldn’t do it. I was on a tight budget and really couldn’t afford to buy a ream of paper or the postage to send it.  But I just couldn’t get this agent out of my mind.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It was like when I met my husband for the first time.  He got into my head and I just couldn’t get him out.  : P

So, I talked to my husband who looked at me as if I’d grown a second head.  He was astounded that I hadn’t sent it out already.  He pulled me to his office, where his boss let me print out the query and partial, then shooed me out the door, telling me to “just do it.  You don’t want to wonder ‘what if’.”

So I sent it and forgot it. 

A few weeks, and a bunch of really exciting things, later, Natalie Fischer offered representation!  (My blog has a slightly more detailed version of the whole agent thing, if you want to know more.)

After that we revised for about a month, and then went out on sub. Our first round eventually ended in rejections, and in the meantime I’d had another ready to go.  She decided instead of going on another round with that original MS, we’d go out with this 2nd book. Unfortunately, the market was flooded with that type of book, and while we had some good interest, that round came back with rejections, too.

In the meantime, I’d written a third book for her.  My favorite.  I couldn’t get the characters out of my head.  I finished it in September 2010, gave it to my CPs all 4 of them at that point, then betas, then, finally, in November I gave it to Natalie.

A few tense weeks (compounded by her move) rolled by while I waited for the determination of yay or nay. Finally, I got the email stating she LOVED it and couldn’t wait to start working with me on it.

Finally, in March, it was ready to go and we went on sub.  Almost immediately we got interest and a month later, after a few R & Rs, a terrifying and nerve-wracking phone call with an editor about the first book I went on sub with that also included
a huge spider deciding to plop down on my notebook while I was writing down notes making me stifle a scream and I dance around not hearing a thing she said while I tried getting away from the gross thing, I got news I was going to acquisitions at another house.  I’d been there before so I just went on as usual, knowing anything could happen, but silently crossing my fingers. 

Then, the day before I was supposed to go to acquisitions, I got THE CALL.  Well, actually, it was a voicemail because I’d lost my phone and the battery had died.  When Natalie couldn’t get a hold of me, she DMd me telling me she needed to talk.

I immediately went into panic mode and tore apart my room to find my phone, which I did and promptly called Natalie, who told me that I had an offer from Melissa Frain at Tor Teen.  There was more to that call, but since I started crying after hearing that, while also trying to stop my daughter from trying to steal the phone and scold Natalie for making me cry, I don’t remember much about it.  J

Then there was a bunch more stuff that happened (that I don’t really know a whole lot about and, probably, can’t talk about) and now I’m here, telling you how I got my book deal.  :D

That was a lot in such a short space, amiright?  But let me tell you, all the stuff I went through from that very first rejection two years ago to now is COMPLETELY worth it.

I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I’m ready to take it on, because I know all I need is perseverance, a thick skin, a good attitude, patience and a good support system.  If these last two years have taught me anything, it’s that I have all of those.  Well, except maybe the patience.  That I’m not.  But I’m working on it.  : D


  1. What's really great about your story is that you found an agent who is interested in repping your career not just one book. I got the call from an agent, but I want one like yours. One who is around for my next books too . . . even if book one doesn't sell.

    Congrats again, Jessica!

  2. Thanks, Stina! And congrats on getting the call! I love Natalie. I really do. And I feel fortunate to have her as my agent. I hope you find that agent who'll you'll not only connect with, but rep your entire career. :)

  3. Wow, what a great story--and what a great agent for believing so much in your work. :)

  4. I'm amazed at how fast you are able to spin ideas into novels. Is there any particular outling method you use, or tools which have helped you develop your series? As far as revision requests go, were those elements you had considered implementing into the novel, but weren't certain, or did the changes reflect ideas you had not considered before?

    Inspiring story, and congratulations!

  5. @Pam: THanks! And she is great. I'm so glad she keeps believing in me. :)

    @Kim: Thanks! And these are awesome questions. I'll be doing a post on Friday to answer them, because there's just not enough room here. :D

  6. What a great story! Loved reading it. :) You have a GREAT agent, and big congrats on being repped by her as well as selling your book!!!

  7. Thanks, Carol! I'm very blessed to have her and now a wonderful editor.

  8. Thanks for sharing Jessica!! Can't wait to read the book :)

  9. Oh Jess...what a great story! :) Lol, I didn't know about the spider...and you crying! You sounded so calm!!! I just teared up reading that; SO HAPPY. CONGRATS SHINING STAR!

  10. THANK YOU, Natalie! Without you taking a chance on me, this would never have happened. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. :D

    Also, I'm glad I sounded calm, because I felt anything but.

  11. Jessica,

    I'm so so so happy for you. You definitely deserve it.

    I can't wait to see more.


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