Thank you so much for all your support on my big announcement day yesterday! If you missed it, or if you want more information about my book or the album, check out yesterday's post! What's that? You want to add it to your goodreads TBR shelf? You're an angel. :)
So, I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a long time. Multiple months, in fact.
If you watched my vlog announcement yesterday, or saw it on Publishers Marketplace or twitter or facebook, or if you received the note tied to Hedwig’s leg, you know that my YA debut, DAMSEL DISTRESSED has been sold to Spencer Hill Contemporary (October 2014).
Let us pause for a mini gif party.
So, my book is going to be a book.
But how did this happen?
No, really. How did this ACTUALLY happen?
How did my little book get here?
Stories about how people find their agents and/or how their books find homes with editors/presses are still among my favorite posts in the world of writer blogs.
And this is my contribution.
Let me tell you a little story.
The story of how DAMSEL DISTRESSED found her home.
In December, I posted about signing with Jessica Sinsheimer. It was one of the most exciting moments of my literary life! I thank my lucky stars every day that Jessica is the agent by my side through this process--that I don't just have AN agent. I have an AMAZING agent.
But at the time of that posting, there was much that I couldn’t say, because my finding Jessica was actually just a single piece of a very complicated puzzle.
In late spring of 2012, my manuscript was fresh out of a smashing contest, The Writers Voice. My little query/page garnered 7 full requests and my brain was already turning to mush inside my skull.
Soon after, I went to my first conference, entered more contests, queried, and I was sending out requested pages left and right.
I was getting requests. This was SPECIFICALLY because my query had been polished to a nice shine by my incredible #teamcupidsLC, and Cupid herself.
What I didn’t know at the time was that my manuscript wasn’t there yet.
The query and first third… maybe even first half of my manuscript was doing its job, but the story wasn’t going where it needed to go.
During this time, I had several personal responses from respected, successful agents, and two specific R&Rs that had some incredible insights.
With a fire in my eyes, I spent the summer revising my manuscript.
And by revising, I mean, rewriting, restructuring, killing darlings, changing the ending (like WHOA), adding/subtracting/combining characters, and basically revamping the story in some major, fundamental ways.
By the fall, I was ready. I felt ready. I was ready to send my manuscript back to some of the agents who said they’d give another look, and I was ready to query some other agents from scratch.
I was convinced that this version of my story was the right one. The one that would make a connection… some special connection and get me to the next step—whatever that might be.
Just before the holidays, responses started coming in. A few key passes from agents who I thought would love it. A few passes from agents that were just not feeling it at all. And a couple OMG-I-LOVE-THIS-BUT-I-CAN’T-TAKE-IT type replies. I was encouraged… sort of… but they were still passes. Still “No’s”. I knew I was close. I knew I was so close, but I STILL wasn’t sure if lightning would strike.
Around that time, another MEGA CONTEST—PitchWars, was announced, and after my success with The Writers Voice six months prior, I was torn. I knew that my MS wasn’t exactly contest fresh at this point. I’d gotten plenty of attention from a couple of contests’ final rounds, and I’d submitted pages to a handful of crit forums as well.
I knew in my gut that saturating the contest “market” with my pages wasn’t a great idea, but at the same time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to catch the attention of Agent!Right if I didn’t exhaust every possibility.
The other problem with entering PitchWars was that almost all of the mentors (mostly agented writers, pre-pubbed authors, and industry interns) were already my friends and a LARGE number of them had already read the early version of my manuscript.
In other words, most of the mentors had already had a go at my manuscript, and probably wouldn't be picking it for this contest.
Reluctantly, I sent a contest submission to one of my mentor-friends who hadn’t read it, beautiful, talented, kind--Andrea Hannah, and basically told her this:
“Errrrr. I’m not sure if something is WRONG with this or not. My readers—both friends and strangers—all tell me that they love my story. That it made them laugh and it made them cry… but I haven’t found the right agent yet, and so, I’m not sure if that means I just haven’t found them, or if there’s a problem. So, I guess I’d like to be considered for the contest… kinda? Okay. Bye.”
I attached my pages and went on with my life.
A couple of days later, I got a message from Andrea that said another one of the PitchWars mentors had read my submission/query/first pages from the contest slush email and was interested in reading the manuscript. This meant I might be selected for the contest, and I guessed that that was a good thing.
So, I sent her the manuscript.
And then I realized that she wasn’t just “any” mentor.
She was Danielle Ellison. She was an editor at Spencer Hill, and their new contemporary imprint,
Spencer Hill Contemporary.
And she was reading my book.
...to be continued.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for part two, and learn how my book went from editor to agent to editor again to DEAL! ((Here's the link for part 2!))