Saturday, February 25, 2012
My road to publishing
As an end to the How to Write Your Stupid Book series, I thought it fitting to share how I became published. It may bore you to death so I apologize in advance for that.
1. I wrote a terrible book. It had no premise. No voice. No genre. It took up 10 Hilroy coil bound notebooks because I wrote it long hand.
2. I wrote another book. It was better only because it was typed.
3. I sent many, many query letters and sample chapters by snail mail to many, many agents.
4. I stalked my mail box for months until slo-o-o-wly the form rejections began rolling in.
5. I wrote a third book and I went to a writers' conference in my home town. I attended every single session on every topic for 3 days until my head exploded and I came home.
6. I sent many, many query letters and synopsis to many, many agents.
7. Rejections rolled in over a period of months, however, a FEW asked me to resubmit my next project.
8. I wrote a fourth book. I went back to the writers' conference (9 months pregnant with my 4th child) and pitched my book to none other than THE Donald Maass (because I didn’t know what a foolish idea that was at the time). Through the entire pitch I was having contractions. He was polite and kind but didn’t ask to see a copy of my book.
9. I wrote PART of a fifth book. It wasn’t bad. It had MY voice. It was MY genre which was a cross between mystery and romance. Someone told me it was Chicklit and I thought that was gum. I pitched it to author Nancy Warren who said it had great potential and suggested I send it to Red Dress Ink (a division of Harlequin) because I wouldn’t need an agent to submit to them. Everyone told me it would take MONTHS for Red Dress Ink (RDI) to get back to me because they were extremely backlogged and this was still in the day when everything had to be snail mailed.
10. I received a letter in the mail from Kathryn Lye, editor of Red Dress Ink, 2 weeks later asking to see the completed book immediately. But I’d only written 3 chapters.
11. With 4 kids under 10 years of age I wrote night and day for 6 weeks until I completed Cat’s Pajamas (aka Dating Can Be Deadly) and I sent it in before Kathryn Lye and Red Dress Ink could forget my name.
12. I received a phone call from Red Dress Ink wanting to buy my book. I was cleaning a turtle aquarium at the time of the call and was up to my elbows in turtle shit. I will never forget how great that was.
13. After Dating Can Be Deadly came out I was able to find an agent (big surprise) but it wasn’t a good fit. I was unable to sell another book until the Ghost Dusters series a few years later.
14. This year I spoke as a presenter (for the 3rd time) at the same writers’ conference that has helped me all these years. I also sat next to Donald Maass at lunch and we chatted about life in general and I didn’t once bring up the fact that my water almost broke all over his fancy new shoes back in 1999 and that he didn’t ask to see my query letter. But I did get back at him by purchasing Robert Dugoni’s t-shirt at a raffle and insisting Donald be the one to remove it from Robert’s body hee hee.
I share these points only because I want you to know if your plan is to be published you need to keep at it. Actually, no matter WHAT your dream is, you need to keep going after it. Even if it means you’ll have to clean some turtle poop.