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My First Sale by Alison Kent, One of the First Reality...

author2.jpgA little bird told me that Ms. Kent’s birthday is today and therefore I thought it perfectly appropriate to post her first sale story, particularly when she was giving away multiple copies of her books in print, galleys and other readerly associated items to celebrate her birthday. I think it is always fun to go to a birthday party and come home with a present. Mosey over and help Kent celebrate her birthday. Kent’s latest release is The Perfect Stranger


The Perfect StrangerI actually have two first sale stories, one being the true first, and the second being the "first–? everyone remembers. As with many aspiring authors who are members of RWA, I entered a lot of writing contests after joining the organization. One of those was the 1992 North Texas RWA Great Expectations Contest. The final round judge in my category was Catherine Carpenter of Meteor Publishing. She picked my entry as the winner, and asked to see the full manuscript. I sent it, and she called to buy it six days later. It was #167 (released in August 1993 as (PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS) out of the one-hundred sixty-eight books in the Kismet imprint. (Trivia: Suzanne Brockmann’s was #168 – the last.) Catherine took a leave during the editing process, and handed over the manuscript to Kate Duffy – who continues to edit me these days.

The second "first–? came in July of 1995. There had been some buzz online (which at that time consisted of GEnie and CompuServe) about a television producer calling around, making inquiries into the industry. One day at work, my phone rang and I picked it up to find Don Dahler (currently seen, I believe, on ABC’s GMA) on the line telling me that CBS 48 Hours was doing a show on romance novels and would like to talk to an aspiring author. Me. I explained about the above sale, but he said that was fine. I was still aspiring, yes? Well, yes. I was, and I agreed to his request for an initial interview. He came to the office to talk to me, called me a day or so later and said he wanted to bring a camera crew and reporter (Susan Spencer, still seen on CBS 48 Hours) to follow me around for, yeah, forty-eight hours. They wanted to visit to my critique group, my home, my office, etc. PANIC!

At the time, I was raising three teenagers on my own, working full-time, homeschooling one, and writing. The homeschooled one did most of the housework, but still. Ugh. I told Don he couldn’t come for a week. During that week, I attacked my house, including buying a new sofa, hanging crap on the bedroom walls, and cleaning out the bottom of my toaster – which remains a joke to this day between me and one of my BFF’s. The first day of the visit, the crew showed up at the office, followed me and one of my crit partners to our meeting place where we met our third, Jan Freed (who I paid tribute to just this last week). (Our group previously included Jo Leigh and Kimberly Raye.)

The next day, the crew arrived at my house to follow me to work, wiring me and my car (because at the time I dictated a lot of my pages) for the trip. Later in the day during my lunch hour, I did an interview with Susan, and the whole bunch then came to my house that night after work. Susan read some of my work from my monitor (from the book that later sold to Kensington Bouquet and was released as LOVE IN BLOOM), and then my phone rang. On the other end of the line was Birgit Davis-Todd, editor for Harlequin Temptation, offering to buy my manuscript CALL ME.

Being the sharp cookie that I am, heh, I asked her to please hold on a moment, and I turned to Don and Susan and said, "Y'all set this up, didn't you?–? Yeah. It only took me 48 hours to figure it out! CBS had a crew in Toronto at the same time, and filmed Birgit's end of the call, too. The show aired in October 1995, and CALL ME was released in July 1996. I have a (badly jpg'd) clip of my portion of the show on YouTube if anyone wants a good laugh. BTW, Birgit and I both have better glasses now. *g*

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. Danielle
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 06:18:04

    Happy Birthday—-Alison. I’m a fan girl, I have all your books.

  2. Jennifer McKenzie
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 06:47:54

    WOW!!! What a great pair of stories. I especially like that she put HQ Temptation on hold and asked them straight up. LOL. Fabulous.
    *off to help her celebrate her birthday*

  3. Julie Leto
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 07:25:55

    I actually have Alison/Mica’s first sale on videotape! As an aspiring writer, I taped the 48 Hours episode myself for inspiration. You can only imagine how excited I was when I first met her. I’d already bought her book and devoured it…and I believe, the sequel, by then. Happy Birthday, Alison!

  4. Jill Monroe
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 07:39:08

    Julie – I have it on video, too! I taped it because I was thinking about writing a romance novel (someday) after college. I remember the part with Alison in her car dictating and thinking that’s what a real writer does.

    Alison, it’s a great story, and so cool to share such a great moment with so many rooting for you!

  5. lue
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 07:58:27

    Not to be a stickler, but sholdn’t that date be July 1996, not July 2006?

  6. Blue
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 07:59:02

    Shouldn’t that date be July 1996, not July 2006?

  7. Blue
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 08:02:41

    Oh good grief. I shouldn’t post first thing in the morning. Sorry for the double mixed-up post!

    Great story by the way!

  8. Ann Bruce
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 08:29:32

    Happy birthday!

    A little off topic…

    I saw mention of Jan Freed. Does anyone know if she’s still writing these days? I haven’t seen anything from her in a while and I recall whiling away a couple of enjoyable hours with her books in the past.

  9. Sandra Schwab
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 08:52:03

    Happy birthday, Alison! That’s one cool first sale story! :)

  10. Alison Kent
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 08:54:59

    Ann, if you click through to the link I gave on Jan, you can see why she’s not been writing. In that same link, I’m giving away some copies of her backlist!

    And, yes, the 2005 and 2006 should be 1995 and 1996, duh, LOL! This is what happens when you get old!!

  11. Christine Rimmer
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 08:57:21

    I love these first sale stories–and this is probably the best so far! Watched the 48 hours segment. Terrific. Especially the part with Alison writing in the car. Now, that’s dedication. I agree with Jill. Mica had “real writer” written all over her! Happy Birthday, Alison.

  12. Karen Scott
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 10:04:03

    That Youtube video was great!

  13. Rebecca Goings
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 10:40:13

    Awesome, Alison. What a great story. I particularly liked Dan Rather at the end of the report… “If you want to be a romanc writer, don’t quit your day job”. LOL! Happy birthday!


  14. Larissa Ione
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 10:45:38

    Happy birthday, Alison! I’m so glad you put your video out there!!!! :)

  15. Janine
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 11:11:14

    Happy birthday, and thanks for sharing your first sale stories!

  16. Karen Erickson
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 11:55:36

    Loved that Alison! Thanks for sharing – and happy, HAPPY Birthday!!! :)

  17. Tracy
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 11:59:10

    Great story!! Happy Birthday Alison!!

    Love your books by the way!!

  18. Jo Leigh
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 12:03:28

    So fun watching that clip! Mostly, though, it made me really nostalgic for our old critique group. ::sniff::

    Happy Birthday!

  19. Robin
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 12:09:22

    Happy Birthday, Alison!

    Now I wish every first sale story came with its own video, though.

  20. Tammy G.
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 13:01:27

    Happy Birthday, Alison!

  21. Jennifer McKenzie
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 13:41:44

    LOL! I especially like the “It was nice knowin’ ya” What a great video.

  22. Cynthia Eden
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 13:42:59

    Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing your first sale story!

  23. vanessa jaye
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 15:14:56

    Great first sale stories, Alison! & Happy Birthday!!

  24. Alison Kent
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 15:21:32

    I especially like the “It was nice knowin' ya�

    Jennifer – What’s so funny about that is the friend I was talking to on that video? I had lunch with her today!! LOL! TWELVE years later!

    Jo – I miss you too! Move back!!

    Thanks for all the birthday wishes, everyone!! I’m enjoying doing nothing!!

  25. Jennifer McKenzie
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 16:40:39

    Oh how cool that you had lunch with her. I was laughing because that’s EXACTLY what my crit group and I would say to each other.
    We’re not lucky enough to get together in person, but we’ve settled in to really standing by each other.
    I have one who I call every day. I couldn’t have kept going without her. Keep on doing nothing. It’s your birthday.

  26. HelenKay
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 19:08:27

    That video is just the best thing ever. And, Alison is oen of the best people ever – happy birthday!!!

  27. Meljean
    Aug 31, 2007 @ 20:36:03

    I love that video — and Happy Birthday!

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