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My First Sale by Elisabeth Naughton

picture of Elisabeth NaughtonWelcome 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.

Stolen Seduction CoverNow, 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 for more information about me and my books.

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. Juliana Stone
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 05:12:34

    Elisabeth! I got tears reading your story! I love these posts. Your Stolen series rocks, your voice beautiful as are you! Marked sounds awesome, ahem, (this I can attest to for reals!) Kudos for sticking to your dream to become a writer and for landing LB as an agent cause she so rocks. I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful authors in the past year and look forward to seeing you in Nashville!

  2. RKCharron
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 06:57:14

    Hi Elisabeth :)
    Thank you for sharing here today. I loved reading your “The Call” story. I can believe you are teased about cleaning the bathroom to celebrate getting the call. I hadn’t thought of all the business aspects of contracts, etc. so until it was actually finalized I am with you on holding out for the celebrating.
    Your story is inspirational to me. Three more novels to go before I hit that five!
    Here is to a magnificent 2010!
    I am so looking forward to reading your paranormal!
    All the best,

  3. Kelly Jamieson
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 08:10:58

    I love reading these stories. Thanks for sharing that Elizabeth.

  4. Carolyn Jewel
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 09:15:19

    What a great idea to have First Sale stories on a Monday! I love your story, Elizabeth! Congrats.

  5. Janine
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 14:13:50

    Great story. I was especially touched by the part about cleaning the bathroom because it gave you a sense of control. It must be an overwhelming moment to get that call.

  6. library addict
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 00:43:03

    This trilogy looks like fun. I plan to try it.

    Thanks for sharing your first sale story.

  7. MaryK
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 15:51:32

    I burned out on Romantic Suspense in my Robards and Brown days, but I like the idea of “romantic adventures.” The adventure aspect is one of the things that attracts me to Urban Fantasy. I’ll have to check these books out.

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