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Interview with An Author: My First Sale by Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep came to my attention through a blog comment she made at Meljean Brook’s blog. Estep was a first time author who was offering up a fun, comic based romance. It looked like a book I had to read. Estep has a bit in common with her characters and she, too, is a person in disguise as she is an author at night and an award-winning journalist by day.

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My first sale story is like that of a lot of writers –" it was years in the making.

I started writing about eight years ago. I made all the typical rookie mistakes that writers do when they start out and don't know much about the business.

I wrote a really bad, really long, really clichà© fantasy novel. Then another one. And — another one. And, yes, one more just for kicks. Told an agent I was nervous during a pitch session and then stumbled through said pitch. Submitted my whole manuscript to a conference for a critique when all they wanted was the first chapter (that one still makes me cringe). You get the idea. If it was a dumb thing to do, I did –" times three.

Somewhere around Bad Book 3, my writing started to get better, and I realized that there were books and Web sites and organizations out there like RWA that actually helped writers learn about publishing. So, I started educating myself. As a result, my writing got even better, and I wrote a cozy mystery that I thought was pretty good. So, I sent it out to agents. Got several reads. And a couple of offers of representation. I picked an agent I thought would be a good fit for me, and he sent the book out.

And nobody wanted it.

Absolutely, positively nobody.

Editors loved my voice or loved the Southern setting or loved my Jimmy Buffett references. But nobody loved it enough to actually buy it.

I was completely, totally, absolutely crushed.

I'd done all the hard work –" written the book, revised it, sent it out, snagged an agent –" and it still didn't sell. I could see the brass ring –" it was just out of reach behind three inches of bulletproof, shatterproof, fireproof, Jen-proof glass. So close, yet so far away.

But I had another book I'd been working on –" “Karma Girl,–? a paranormal romance set in a comic book world. Fun and zany and sort of out there. So, I sent that to my agent. And he told me that paranormal romance wasn't selling right now. That fantasy was a hard genre to break into.

This seemed strange to me since all my wanderings through the RWA groups and loops told me that paranormal romance was the hot genre. But romance wasn't really what my agent did anyway, and it was becoming more and more obvious that we weren't right for each other. So, I started looking for another agent. And I found one –" a great one. We clicked, and she sent the book out.

But I wasn't getting my hopes up. Not after being disappointed so badly the first time. My significant other claims that nobody has to rain on my parade –" I do it myself. Well, let's just say that I've learned to keep an umbrella handy to get through life's little downpours.

Flash forward to April 2006. I was at work at my newspaper day job, sitting at my desk tucked away in the corner, staring at the latest food pages I was designing. Suddenly, the phone rang –" and my heart started to pound. My eyes widened. Nervous excitement flooded by body. And my stomach flipped over.

My agent had been hinting that we might get an offer on “Karma Girl,–? and I'd been expecting The Call for about a week by this point. I jumped every time the phone rang, expecting it to be my agent with good news, and being disappointed when it wasn't. But this time, I just knew it was her — and it was!

I don't remember the actual words that were said during The Call –" just feeling so absolutely happy and excited and over the moon. By the time The Call ended, my cheeks literally hurt from where I'd been smiling so big for so long. Hands shaking, I got up from my desk and calmly, slowly walked out to my car.

Then, I locked myself inside and whooped and hollered and screamed until I was hoarse.

And then, calmly, slowly, I unlocked the car doors, went back inside the office, and got back to work.

My dream had come true. I'd finally punched through that bulletproof glass and grabbed that elusive brass ring. And I knew I could put the umbrella away –" at least until the reviews started coming in. J

So, that's my story. May you all have your own some day soon. If I can do it, so can you. Just remember to keep your umbrella handy for those rainy days.

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At noon today, there’ll be a review (for sure) and video review (we hope) of Jennifer Estep’s, Karma Girl.

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

10 Comments

  1. Jayne
    May 04, 2007 @ 05:38:49

    Hurry Jane. Tell Ned to make with the stick figures already.

  2. Jane
    May 04, 2007 @ 07:37:47

    We are in the last stages of production. . . picking song. . .

  3. Jana J. Hanson
    May 04, 2007 @ 07:48:26

    I’m reading Karma Girl now and LOVING it!!!

  4. Jennifer Estep
    May 04, 2007 @ 07:53:00

    Jane and Jayne — I just wanted to say thanks for having me here today and for taking the time to do a review of Karma Girl. I know you guys must be swamped with books. But who is the mysterious Ned?

    If Carmen had a theme song, it’s “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. I can’t wait to see the video.

    Jana — Yeah! I hope you really enjoy the rest of the book. :-)

  5. Jayne
    May 04, 2007 @ 08:47:12

    Ned is Jane’s husband and the stick figure artiste of Dear Author. Just wait for his magic.

  6. Sybil
    May 04, 2007 @ 09:38:38

    So If I proclaim myself president of Ned’s fanclub… does he do stick duckies?

  7. Rosie
    May 04, 2007 @ 10:35:07

    Have I mentioned (much) that I love this weekly feature?

  8. Edie Ramer
    May 05, 2007 @ 18:03:08

    Jennifer, a really inspiring blog! Thanks for showing us your sale didn’t come easy. It really helps.

    I’m off to see the video now. :)

  9. Edie Ramer - Author
    May 05, 2007 @ 18:25:02

    […] Estep talks about her First Sale at Dear Author, and it wasn’t a piece of tiramisu cake. They also have a super fun video up […]

  10. Jennifer Estep
    May 05, 2007 @ 20:43:29

    Hi, Edie! Thanks for the nice words. Believe me, it wasn’t a piece of cake. But hey, that just made it that much sweeter in the end. ;-)

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