I started writing my first book in the fall of 2009. I didn’t intend to write a whole book, but I got past page 100 and was hooked (the writing SUCKS BTW – it’s in my stack of books that need to be re-written). My next book was intentional, and ended up being my first published book.
So. My first published book, The Next Door Boys, went like this –
1. Submitted to the largest publisher in the niche market.
3. Found a killer awesome beta reader.
4. Did some (okay, major) revisions. Interestingly enough, no revisions in storyline, just in language, so yes, language is that important…
5. Re-submitted to another of the three large publishers in the niche market.
6. Got offer of publication.
7. The Next Door Boys was signed in January of 2011, and came out in October of 2011.
(Seems so simple, right? BUT at this time I didn’t have an agent to help with my contract or to push for a two-book deal, or to push for ebooks to follow the paperback in a timely manner, or, or, or…)
I knew I still wanted an agent, and at the time the niche market thing seemed like a good idea to get my some publication cred, and help me move forward – this decision bites me in the ass, every time I use a scandalous word like “ass” in a mainstream book… So, yes. Be careful where and how you begin.
1. Begin querying in December of 2010 – after a year of writing and working.
2. Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. Hit refresh on email an embarrassing amount per day, or hour, or minute, or you know, whatever.
3. Some requests, some rejections. Keep writing frantically to have new material. Keep researching how to write queries, how to tighten the language in my books. Finding beta readers who are better writers than me… RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, EDIT, EDIT, EDIT… This goes on until June of 2011.
4. Offer of rep. from an agent I met on #yalitchat.
5. Notify other agents who have one or two of my projects, and pull out hair wondering WHO to go with.
6. My agent goes through almost the same process for submission as I went through for querying – For me this is more stressful than querying. Remind myself that all I have to do now is keep writing, try to let agent handle the rest.
7. An editor I really wanted to work with loved Night Sky – I thought this is it! A done deal, but it’s NOT. The board at the publishing house passed. Was told that the writing is stellar, but not enough of a commercial hook.
8. We continue to search, and continue to have editors like my writing, but can’t sell to their pub house – just because an editor takes your book to their board, does NOT mean it will get picked up…
9. Tell my agent – we’ve talked about finding me an epublisher – find me someone who loves my book as much as I do because I want it OUT. I have other projects I want to focus on (Mistake. Don’t sell your book short. Either do the work to get it ready for big publishers, or do that same work and self-publish).
10. Agent finds an epublisher who loves my story. Sign a two-book deal for Night Sky and Knee Deep. Keep paperback rights to myself.
11. Write a book I feel is special (Used To Be), unsure whether or not my current is the right person to shop it. Give it to her. She shops it.
12. Finish a book with Nyrae Dawn called Misplaced. Because of a convo Nyrae and I were having on twitter, Heather Howland at Entangled asked to see the MS, and bought it!! (never under-estimate the power of twitter) It’s now titled Out of Play, which is so perfect on so many levels.
13. Realize that me and agent number one might not be the right fit, as I’d earlier thought (while on sub w/ two books=BAAD timing). Self-publish for the first time with a book I co-wrote with Steph Campbell. LOVE the freedom of it.
14. Leave first agent, which destroys writing mojo for a while.
15. Get deal from AW Teen for Used To Be (YAY!!) Come back w/ no sale on other book, even after several editors fought for it. (sad)
16. Finalize separation from agent 1 after several months of back and forth. Decide I never want to be agented, ever again.
17. Self-publish a few more books I have stacked up after editing the crap out of them – Spill Over, Falling…
18. Get an offer from an amazing agent (Jane Dystel) in late summer of 2012 w/o querying.
19. Take it – because goals change, and situations change, and because HELLO Jane Dystel – the woman is awesome.
20. This time when my book went on sub, I heard back IMMEDIATELY. And I JUST sold my second book to Wendy McClure at AW Teen, who I’m ECSTATIC to be working with again – so… Watch for more news on The Happiness of Joy…
The point of this whole long rambling post is that there are a TON of ways to get published. Everyone finds what works best for them, and not just for them, but for each project.
This is what worked for me, and for these particular manuscripts. Well, and my writing career is and always will be a work in progress…