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My First Sale by Barbara Wallace

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. Barbara Wallace writes romances for Harlequin romance.   As a self published author, Wallace lived in that nether space of being both published for the purpose of contests in local chapters and unpublished for the purposes RWA national.   She finally broke through with a sale to Harlequin.   Her latest release, The Cinderella Bride, is in stores now.


Barbara WallaceIn March, 2009, I got "The Call" from Harlequin Romance.   It was my first sale.   Except it wasn't my first sale.   Except that it was.

Confused?   Welcome to the roller coaster that was my journey to publication.

Let me back up.     I'd always wanted to be a writer, and after falling in love with Silhouette Desire and Bantam Loveswept, I realized those were the kind of books I wanted to write.   In 1994, I signed with an agent — a wonderful woman who, while no longer my agent, is still in the business and doing great things for authors.   Publication, I was certain, was imminent.

Two weeks later, my son was born.   For the next five years, I balanced motherhood and writing, still certain publication lurked right around the corner.   I can't tell you the number of times I came thisclose to selling.   But alas, thanks to lines folding and marketing changes, "the Call" didn't come.

In 2000, my son was entering school, and two new concepts – Print On Demand and E-Publishing had just emerged.   Several of my local colleagues had manuscripts accepted by a small POD publisher and following their leads, I submit too.   Wonder of wonders – they bought my book.   I was published!

But I wasn't.   At least not according to RWA.   Shortly after my sale, RWA created its publisher-recognition policy.   My publisher didn't make the cut.   With good reason.   Shortly after, after battling distribution and financial issues, the publisher folded.   I sold – if I'm lucky – around a dozen books.

Thus began a ten year stay in the Hinterland of Publishing where I was simultaneously recognized as published by local RWA Chapters and considered unpublished by RWA National.   Agents and editors didn't care about my erstwhile publishing credentials, while I was prohibited from entering the chapter contests that might net me better ones.

Fortunately, the one contest I could enter was the Golden Heart.   I entered the contest in 2005 and again in 2007, making the finals both time.   In fact it was winning the GH in 2007 that landed the attention of my editor at Harlequin..   She had requested the full version of my GH book a few months before the finals.   Shortly after I won, she rejected the book. (What – you thought this was the end of the story?).   But, she offered me the chance to work with her on a new project.   Three revision passes later, I finally got "the Call."   Two days before my son's fifteenth birthday.

cinderella brideThat book is THE CINDERELLA BRIDE, available December 10th.   I'm making my son (yes, that same son who was born two weeks after I signed with an agent) drive me to Walmart so I can see my book on the shelves.   I'd hoped to enter it in the First Book category for the Ritas too, but- you guessed it.   RWA changed its rules again.   That sale from 2000 now counts.   Oh well.   Such is life on the writing roller coaster.

By the way, what is the lesson from all these ups and downs?   Simple.   Never, ever give up.   Publication really is around the corner.   It just might take fifteen years to figure out which corner that is.

Comment below for a chance to win your own copy of THE CINDERELLA BRIDE, as well as a copy of FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS, an anthology I'm in with bestselling author Susan Meier.

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. Fi-Chan
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 04:21:22

    Wow, your life on writing is a roller coaster indeed!

  2. Nicola Marsh
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 05:50:25

    I love call stories Barbara and yours is something special!

    So glad you’re part of the Harlequin Romance family :)

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    Nov 29, 2010 @ 06:09:53

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  4. Barb Wallace
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 06:14:34

    Thanks Nicola and Fi-Chan – it’s been a crazy ride, to be sure. I think the lesson I learned from it all is to do your research before making big decisions like accepting a publishing contract. I am so glad to be with the Harlequin Romance family. I feel like I finally found my home.

  5. Virginia C
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 07:03:09

    Hi, Barbara! Happy Holidays : ) I absolutely loved your comments, and your story is all the more meaningful because you and your son have made the journey together! Life is never exactly what we expect–it’s either more or less than we think it will be. However, we must always keep our hearts and minds open to wonderful possibilities. If not, we might miss our golden moments!

  6. Marie Force
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 07:31:56

    Congratulations, Barb! SO happy for you. Hope you enjoy that ride to WalMart to visit your book. Your son certainly understands the concept of perseverance. Well done, Mom!

  7. Bonnie Ferguson
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 08:03:10

    Thanks for sharing your first sale story and congrats on the release of The Cinderella Bride! :)

  8. Gina
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 09:53:44

    Awesome story… my son is turning 21, I’m hoping my corner comes up pretty soon!! Congratulations on never giving up!

  9. Barbara Wallace
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 10:47:14

    @Gina: Definitely don’t give up. I’m sure your corner is right there. (And on the plus side, your son can enjoy the celebratory champagne with you!)

  10. Barbara Wallace
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 10:48:56

    Thanks for the warm welcome Bonnie, Virginia and Marie (Hi Marie!) Days like today are always surreal – I still have trouble believing my dream has come true. Thanks for visiting and wishing me well!

  11. Miranda Baker
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 11:50:01

    I loved Bantam Loveswept titles, too! Do you remember when Iris Johansen used to write them? Congratulations on your sale – I look forward to reading your titles. Thanks for sharing your story.

  12. Margaret Fisk
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 12:27:52

    Wow, that’s quite a wild ride, but I’m glad it has a happy ending.

  13. Barb Wallace
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 12:37:27

    @Miranda Baker: Suzanne Brockmann and Janet Evanovich too! I loved those books. As a reader, I was crushed to see the line fold.

  14. Barbara Wallace
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 12:38:25

    @Margaret Fisk: So far anyway! You never know what’s around the next corner in this industry. I’m just going to try and have fun while I can.

  15. Erin L
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 13:55:15

    What a great story. I hope you take your camera with you a get a picture of you standing next to your book in the store.

  16. Barbara Wallace
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 17:49:38

    Thanks Erin! Believe me, I plan to take lots of photos.

    And thanks btw, to Jane for having me here at Dear Author. I really appreciate it.

    Hope to get a chance to visit with everyone again soon.

  17. Julie Steele
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 01:00:39

    Bet this story has taught your son a lot about perseverance! Sounds like a lovely book. Looking forward to it.

    Peace, Julie

  18. Barbara Wallace
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 13:16:02

    And the lucky winner of the drawing is…..(Drum roll) Virginia C!

  19. Barbara Wallace
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 13:17:43

    @Barbara Wallace: Congrats! Virginia. Please contact me through and I’ll send you out a copy of The Cinderella Bride as well as a copy of Fairytale Christmas. Thanks for visiting. And again, congratulations

  20. Virginia C
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 15:51:25

    What a wonderful surprise! Thank you : ) I sent my contact information via your website. Happy Holidays to all : )

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