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My First Sale by Jeff Rivera

Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Friday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Jeff Rivera was once homeless and writing in a car (he’s like Jewel, only writes books instead of music).   His debut novel, Forever My Lady, was first self-published until the big wigs caught on and he was awarded a contract with Warner Books.   It’s in stores now.   


I remember that night distinctly, as I lay cramped next to my mother in the front seat of our two door Buick. A tear rolled down my cheek, not just because we were homeless, nor because the only money we had was the loose change on the dashboard, nor because we shared our new “home” with our pet cockateil and turtle. No, a tear rolled down my cheek because my mother had just told me the story of how she was locked in a toy box when she was a little girl whenever she was “bad”.

I knew we had to do better. This was not where we were meant to be in our life. So, years later when I set out to self-publish my first novel, Forever My Lady I did so not only because it had been my dream since I was in first grade to write a novel but because I knew any success I had, was my family’s success, and because we had to do better.

I had only $200 to my name and I used it to print the first box of books. And, because I didn’t have a penny more I started promoting the book on line. I didn’t know if people were even going to like it. Crazy, when I think about it, to use every dime I had to self-publish some novel. But something told me to do it. Forever My Lady was a story I had to tell, it had been fermenting inside of me for so long. I didn’t completely believe in myself but I knew on some level even if I never made it and I looked back on my life as an old man, I would have known I had at least sought out to do better.

I remember when the emails started coming in, letters, enthusiastic letters of people who had read Forever My Lady online and wanted to purchase the book. It gave me chills to think about it, people “got me” they actually “got me”. More orders, and more orders came in and soon I had sold every book in my first box of books. I used that money to purchase more copies and before long I had built an audience of over 8000 people that had read the book either online or in print.

That’s when Warner Books (Now, called Grand Central) came knocking. The book had been rotting on the bottom of their slush pile but after I got my first book agent they read Forever My Lady over the weekend and had an offer within 7 days.

Shock. I was in shock. There I was, the son of a single mother, once a homeless teen living in the front seat of my car with my mother and little brother and pets and there was Grand Central Publishing was calling. And they wanted my book! Dreams do come true and I knew more than anything in the world, finally we had done better.

Jeff Rivera is the author of the award-winning novel, Forever My Lady. For more information visit:

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ann Somerville
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 13:39:19

    I’ve never heard of Mr Rivera, but his big happy grin sure did brighten my morning. And what a wonderful story.

    [ps – the link to his site has wdw, not www, in it]

  2. Lori
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 14:29:57

    Dreams come true in so many ways… great story!!

  3. Cara
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 14:38:30

    Mr Rivera, yours is the best kind of story. Thanks!

  4. rebyj
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 14:39:38

    It IS a wonderful story! Thanks.

  5. Jessa Slade
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 14:46:16

    How inspiring. To go from so little to believing in your dream and working to make it happen. I think there’s a autobiography in there someday :)

  6. Dana
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 15:23:16

    I love that picture. He has such a fantastic smile. :) And what a great story, thank you for sharing it with us.

    Also, is there a reason why this entry is tagged as “Robin Owens”?

  7. Sami
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 15:49:24

    Congratulations Jeff, and good on you for your determination. Best of luck with the book.

  8. Karin
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 17:11:26

    That is an inspiring story. Congratulations on all your success, Jeff!

  9. muñeca
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 18:28:20

    Great story! Will have to look up the book, the first chapter was scary but I have to know what happens next now.

  10. Kimber An
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 18:38:27

    Wonderful! We were proud to have Mr. Rivera at Enduring Romance for his blog book tour. The ‘world-building’ for his story is so very real. Of course, it is real. It’s set in the real world. What I mean to say is he brings that ‘world’ alive for people like me, an Alaskan, who’s never been there. I think a lot of authors of contemporary fiction forget that not everyone in the world, or even America, is already intimately familiar with the environment their stories are set in.

  11. Danielle
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 18:45:45

    What a heart touching story.

  12. Rae Lori
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 18:58:00

    I love Jeff’s story! Great to see his wonderful story shared here.

  13. Jeff Rivera
    Dec 06, 2008 @ 07:22:48

    Wow, thank you so much for your encouraging days. You brightened up my morning! Now I have an even bigger smile on my face. Thanks for supporting me and if you’re looking for more inspirationals stories of writers or tips, etc. I created a new website called:

    :) Jeff

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