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. Elisabeth Naughton has a romantic suspense series under her belt and will be debuting a paranormal series this summer. Her latest work, Stolen Seduction, is in stores now.
I read somewhere that it takes the “average” author five years and five manuscripts to sell their first book. Of course, we all think we’re not average, so when I started writing with the intent to publish, I was sure I’d be above the curve.
STOLEN FURY was my fifth manuscript. The first few books I wrote were learning experiences, and while fun, I knew they weren’t “the ones” even before I finished them. When I wrote STOLEN FURY, I knew. There was just something about it that struck me as different, and before I even typed “The End” I knew it would someday sell. I subbed it to agents, landed my fabulous agent and she started shopping the book around. But, of course, publishing is not easy to break into, especially when what you write (in this case adventure) is enough outside what’s selling in the genre (at the time, dark and gritty suspense) to make things difficult. However, as we all know, it only takes one editor to fall in love with a book, and that’s what I was hoping for.
My agent called me sometime near the end of 2007 and told me that she’d met this fabulous editor at a conference who she thought I’d get along well with and wondered how I felt about subbing to her. I said sure and away the manuscript went. A few weeks passed – and at this point I’d pretty much forgotten about that conversation altogether – when I got a phone call from my agent asking if I had a medium-length synopsis for STOLEN FURY and could send it to her. This was a Friday. I was packing up to head off to the beach with my writer’s group. Of course, I said “yes”, then proceeded to stress because I couldn’t even remember if I HAD a medium length synopsis. Luckily, I found one, sent it to my agent and took off for the beach.
Now, I’m neurotic like (thankfully) most writers, so instead of a fun-filled relaxing writing weekend, I managed to turn it into a “here, stress along with me!” weekend. My writing pals are awesome though and did a great job (or at least tried) keeping my mind off what was happening in New York. And I did manage to have fun.
So Monday morning rolled around. No word. Preparing myself for the worst, I figured, “You know, if I didn’t hear today it must mean they’re not really interested.” Then Tuesday hit. And my agent called with the offer. I think I was too stunned to say much. Several times my agent asked, “You are excited about this, right?” and I’m pretty sure I nodded (which she couldn’t see over the phone) and muttered, “uh, huh.” But my head was spinning with all the info she’d passed on to me. I always thought that first offer would be a screaming, Oh my God! moment. But it wasn’t. There were too many things suddenly to think about. And since I still knew my agent was going to dispute contract points, I didn’t want to get too excited too soon.
I called my hubby, my critique partner, told my closest friends about the offer. And while it would be glamorous to say I went out for a champagne dinner to celebrate, well, that’s just not the truth. My writer friends love to joke about this, because, well, it’s just plain funny-but the truth is I celebrated my first offer by cleaning the bathrooms in my house. At the time, it was something I could do that I had control over, and it kept me from freaking out. And at the time, everything else just seemed totally out of my hands.
A few days later, my agent called back with the contract points all worked out and after she finished telling me all the “business” stuff and I hung up, I did scream and squeal. And when my editor called a few days after that, THAT’s when the entire sale became real to me.
Five years and five manuscripts after I first started writing. Am I average? As far as sale length goes, yeah, I guess so. But when I listen to writer friends talk about the years they struggled and the numerous manuscripts they wrote, I consider myself extremely lucky.
STOLEN FURY released from Dorchester a year ago (12.30.09) and was followed by STOLEN HEAT (book 2) in August 2009 and STOLEN SEDUCTION (book 3), which just released this past week. The day before STOLEN SEDUCTION released I had one of those “WOW” moments thinking a year ago I was technically unpublished and now I have three books on the shelf. It’s truly amazing how things can change in a year.
In May 2010 I have a whole new paranormal series starting with the release of MARKED, book one in my Eternal Guardians Series. I’m looking forward to writing both paranormals and romantic adventures and I’m thrilled I’m able to do both. Honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
You can visit my website at www.elisabethnaughton.com for more information about me and my books.