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My First Sale by Carrie Lofty

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. Carrie Lofty’s debut work, What a Scoundrel Wants, featuring a historical within the Robin Hood ouvre is out in stores now.  

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When my husband moved to Virginia in 2006 for a summer internship, I stayed with our daughters in Wisconsin and actively maintained my blog. What started as a journal in 2005 had ballooned into hundreds of entries on everything from pacifiers to Plato. Early that summer, I read about the RWA national conference in Atlanta and wanted to be there. I made Nationals a benchmark of success…but for what?

Sure, I’d written enough blog entries to complete an epic, so I couldn’t use a lack of free time as my excuse, but I had yet to finish a manuscript. For years, procrastination and perfectionism had thwarted my attempts. That summer marked a turning point. By finishing Serenade some 88 days later, a romance about a widowed violin prodigy and the dishonored composer she loves, I proved my dedication.

I was ready to begin another project when my girls and I rented Disney’s animated Robin Hood. I realized I hadn’t seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in quite a while. It’s shlocky as all get out, but I love it–not for Kevin Costner or men in tights or even the delicious Alan Rickman, but because of my obsessive fascination with Christian Slater. It’s embarrassing, really. Girly hormones at their worst. So while watching the film for the first time in years, I got to thinking: Whatever happened to Will Scarlet anyway?

I jumped feet-first into Sherwood lore. With Robin Hood, I returned to my love of legends–that tricky bit of history where fact meets myth. When the resulting manuscript finaled in two contests, I felt I’d chanced upon that elusive “high concept.” Hearts Through History planned to announce their contest winners during an annual breakfast at Nationals. But was this a legitimate way to spend so much money and time?

After Ann Aguirre and I basically dared each other into going, I had a roommate, a pitch appointment, and no more excuses. Making my first solo plane trip since my junior year in England was a major success, no matter the result. Two bags! No stroller!

Then it came time to pitch–my first ever. I’d chosen to pitch to Hilary Sares of Kensington, knowing she’s the kind of gal who takes chances. She sat down at the table, read the 25-word blurb on my business card and said, “I want the full.”

My rough drafts are about as rough as they come, so two months passed before I finally popped it in the mail. Hilary called me two days later. Holy smokes! Props to the postal service! My kids had just started pre-school, so I didn’t have to spend half the conversation bribing them with “Blue’s Clues” videos to keep quiet.

Within one very anxious week, I connected with agent Caren Johnson and signed with her. The deal was done. I’d sold! None of it seemed real, but my husband took me out, my friend bought me champagne, and my college roommate sent me flowers. That’s the stuff of celebration! And in San Francisco this past summer, I wore my first sale ribbon at Nationals–two years on from setting that initial benchmark for success. Needless to say, I was quite proud of my accomplishment.

Now What a Scoundrel Wants is a December 2 Zebra Debut release. Its late 2009 sequel is set in the exotic Kingdom of Castile–now modern day Spain–and I’ll be starting a free online serial of Serenade in January. Although I’ve only just started this journey, I’ve learned that getting serious can be one of the biggest challenges to being published–and it’s the only part of this industry that we can fully control.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

18 Comments

  1. Ana
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 04:26:22

    Carrie, I love Christian Slater’s Will Scarlet as well, and it’s funny because I was 15 years old then and became a Christian Slater fan like only a teenage can be. (ie obsessed)

    and this is what made me want to read your book so much. Having finished it this week, I can say it is one of my favorite adventure-romance to date. Your Will is an awesome hero.

    Congratulations! May you get plenty more published.

  2. Diana Holquist
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 08:18:32

    No stroller! Ha! Love that….know the feeling well. Congrats on the sale and thanks for the great story.

    –Diana

  3. Barb Ferrer
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 10:25:24

    Would it be inelegant of me to taunt “I’ve already read it, I’ve already read it!”

    Yeah. It would be. Sorry.

    Needless to say, I adore Carrie and I’ve loved watching her journey and I can’t wait for next Tuesday so everyone else can get their hands on one of the sexiest, most fun, and entertaining takes on Sherwood since “Unlike some Robin Hoods, I have a real English accent.”

    And my favorite part? An unapologetically cranky and prickly heroine.

  4. katiebabs
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 11:28:00

    Carrie, you had the best post-its this year at RWA this year ;).
    Congrats on everything. I can’t wait to read all about Will. I must have watched Prince of Thieves too many times to count. Of course, I wanted Alan Rickman, the baddie. I have a thing for those evil, bad boys in literature.

  5. Evie Byrne
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 12:16:10

    Oh! Will is here! OMG! I’ve been waiting for this book since I heard about it at RWA this summer. Congrats, Carrie! And thanks for sharing your story.

    And ditto on the Christian Slater thing, too, btw…

  6. jmc
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 15:19:16

    I received an email notification that my copy of What A Scoundrel Wants has shipped. Can’t wait to read it :)

  7. KristieJ
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 17:20:55

    I’m rubbing my hands in eager anticipation to read this one!! Great first sale story!

  8. Stacy ~
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 19:23:38

    Sounds like my kinda book. I’ve been intrigued by Will Scarlett since Ray Winstone portrayed him in the British version of “Robin Hood”, and I liked Christian Slater in the role.

    Congrats on your release.

  9. Karin
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 19:37:27

    Carrie, that’s a great first sale story. I love how you met the goal you set for yourself. Congratulations!

  10. Meljean
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 23:02:54

    Great story! I’m looking forward to this book very much.

  11. Dana
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 23:12:46

    Carrie, congrats on your sale! I can’t say I share the Christian Slater fascination (although he was a hottie in HEATHERS), but I love the idea of basing a story around Will Scarlett. And Stacy, thanks for the tip re: the version where Ray Winstone (I LOVE that man!) plays him in the Brit version!

  12. Janine
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 00:33:21

    I really enjoyed reading this — esp. the part about Ann Aguirre and you daring each other to go to RWA. And “Two bags! No stroller!” Thanks for sharing this first sale story.

  13. Carrie Lofty
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 07:23:52

    Thanks, everyone, and thanks to Jane for having me. And I’ll have be sure to tell me husband about the two Ray Winstone nods–his favorite Will Scarlet(t)!

  14. Sindee
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 13:10:02

    Being a huge fan of anything Robin Hood, I can’t wait to read your book. Congratulations, Carrie!

    Sindee

  15. Zoe Archer
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 20:59:15

    Yay for Carrie! I remember getting her invite to join the Unusual Historicals blog, lo, these many moons ago. She’s an awesome and very cool person (ask her about gunfights of the Old West some time), and I’m so eager to read about hott Will Scarlet. (And here’s yet another vote for Ray Winstone.)

  16. Kimberly Killion
    Nov 30, 2008 @ 05:14:40

    Geez! It took forever for this book to come out. Congratulations on your sale and on your release day. Santa is coming early this year. Can’t wait to pick up a copy. ;)
    ~Kimberly

  17. Sarah Parr
    Dec 01, 2008 @ 15:54:41

    A terrific first sale story! I’m off to the bookstore. Congrats and best wishes!
    ~Sarah

  18. Dionne Galace » Blog Archive » Dueling Review: What a Scoundrel Wants
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 22:24:35

    […] Did you read Carrie’s ‘My First Sale‘ post on Dear Author? She soooo sewed the Slater seeds in my […]

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