Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Claudia Dain writes romance stories about the woman getting everything she wants. Her latest book, To Dazzle a Duke, is in stores now with her mass market reprint The Courtesan’s Secret to be released in October. In case you missed it, Ned and I put together a little lego video of her book, The Courtesan’s Daughter.
It wasn’t easy, let me just say that right off. I’d written two books before I even sent the first book to a publisher. When my manuscript pages came back, untouched by human hands (I’d be willing to swear to this in court), I figured out that I should probably get an agent.
That took forever. I was writing my fourth book when I got an agent. She loved my third book and sent it around to the publishers. Months passed, a year or two passed (I’ve blurred this period in my memory), and while she was waiting to hear back about book three, she read book four and didn’t like it.
I started writing book five. It was when I was halfway through book five that my house burned to the ground. We lost 90% of everything we owned. Family photos. Treasured mementos. My computer. My manuscripts. I watched every tangible thing in my life disappear into flame and smoke.
After the fire, my husband dug through the smoking, hot rubble and found what was left of my computer. I told him it was useless. He told me that it was worth a try. He took my computer to a couple of computer geeks and they were able to retrieve all my Word Documents. My husband came home with them like a warrior returning from the battlefield, sword raised aloft, a victorious gleam in his eyes and a grin on his face.
My agent said she only liked book three and no one wanted to buy it, so she dropped me.
I cried, and kept writing. I was determined to finish the fifth book, the fire book, because writers write. I was a writer, if only in my own mind, and I was going to finish the book, no matter what.
And then my mother died.
I cried and cried. And I kept writing.
I finished book five. I found another agent. She sold book four. (Is this starting to sound like one of those horrible math problems? Train A leaves Cincinnati at 12:10 and Train B leaves Honolulu at 7:17, Train A is traveling west at 67 MPH and Train B is traveling east at 42 MPH-when will Train A and Train B reach New Haven? You’re exactly right. It’s a trick question. Everyone knows that no one writes five books and sells the first one.)
So, book four sold, the book my first agent didn’t like. Then, in the irony of all ironies, book three sold. Book four is my debut book, Tell Me Lies, and book three is my second book, The Holding. The Holding is a true fan favorite. Book five? The one I was writing when the house burned down? To Burn.
My husband says that if I ever write a book with the working title, Killing Him, he’s moving out. No hard feelings, but a Sign is a Sign.
I honestly don’t know how many books I’ve written by now, and I don’t remember the order of writing to publication either. I hate math and what I’ve just shared with you is as far as my brain can go. A train to New Haven? Can’t I just fly?
But am I a writer? Yes, I am. Writers write. Through fire and death and tears, they write. Write on.