New York Times Bestselling Novelist Allison Brennan made her first sale in 2004 and quickly became one of the genres top selling romantic suspense writers. Since then she has gone on to publish 5 additional romantic suspense books and is contracted by Ballantine to write six more. Fear No Evil was released in March and was the last of a back to back to back 2007 release for three of Brennan’s books: Speak No Evil, See No Evil, and Fear No Evil. You can read more about Brennan’s work at her site.
I read in the Romance Writers Report (RWA) that it takes on average a little over five years from finishing your first book to selling your first book. So when I made a commitment to myself to finally finish one of over a hundred books I’d started, I didn’t expect a sale overnight. It didn’t happen overnight, but it seemed to happen fast. I’ve only now become somewhat comfortable with being a published author.
Two years after I started seriously writing after years of fooling around, an agent agreed to represent my fifth completed manuscript. On a Thursday, March 4, 2004, she sent seventeen manuscripts to a variety of editors. I figured it would take awhile to hear back.
The next Tuesday morning, I dropped two kids off at school, two kids off at day care, and drove to work. (I have five kids now–#5 was still cooking in the oven, so to speak.) My cell phone rings. A 212 area code. My heart starts beating faster. I had just signed with my agent, I hadn’t talked to her much, and I was nervous as heck that I’d say something really stupid.
But I did answer the phone just as I was pulling into my parking lot at the State Capitol. I didn’t get out of the car, though, when Kim said, “We have a pre-empt offer from Ballantine for two books.”
Afraid of being stupid, I still ask, “What does pre-empt mean?”
Pause. Yes, that was a stupid question. I should have looked it up online. She responds matter-of-factly, “Basically, they’re coming up to the plate with a good offer so that we pull all other submissions and negotiate only with them. But if they want a pre-empt, they’re going to have to put more money on the table.”
Of course, I’m panicking. Wait! I want to say. Don’t scare them. What if they say thanks but no thanks? My heart is pounding, people are walking past my car waving at me as they go into the building and I’m just sitting in my car looking dumbstruck. (Aside: This is why writers need an agent. We’re just so damn grateful that somebody wants to buy our book that we don’t even think that maybe the first offer isn’t their final offer.)
So we talk, she hangs up saying she’s going to ask them to come back with another offer, and I just sit. And sit. I sat there for two days (okay, I think I went into my office and worked, picked the kids up, fed them, but I honestly don’t remember anything.)
That Thursday afternoon I was walking back from La Bou, a coffee house, with my afternoon iced mocha. Spring in
I wanted to say, “THEY are excited? I can hardly hold both my phone and my coffee I’m shaking so hard.”
Instead, I just agreed with everything my agent said and hung up. I stood there on the corner of 11th and O Streets and let the reality sink in. I was going to be a published author. Someone wanted to buy my book. And another book that I hadn’t even written yet.
Then my cell phone rang again. Instantly, I thought, “It’s Kim telling me they changed their mind.”
Instead it was my office calling because someone was looking for me. I looked at the time. What I thought had been a fifteen minute break had turned into an hour and fifteen minutes.
Back to the grindstone. But I was smiling. A lot.
If you have a first sale story you would like to share, please email jane at jane @ dearauthor.com