May 12 2010
It’s a special Wednesday edition of “My First Sale”, a feature wherein authors share the sale of their first book. (Usually this is just on Mondays but I made a scheduling error and really, can we have too many inspirational sale stories?) Erica Ridley‘s debut Gothic historical, Too Wicked To Kiss, is in stores now. When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.
I have been addicted to books for as long as I can remember. I literally cannot recall a time when I couldn’t read… and I’m pretty sure the urge to write bit me at the same time. Unfortunately, those handwritten, hand-illustrated stories of my childhood are long gone. (And thank goodness those handwritten, angst-laced stories of my teenage years are likewise lost!)
About the time I finished high school, my dreams of being a writer got buried beneath the dream of having a disposable income. I got my first Real Job, and spent the next decade doing decidedly non-literary things, from making steel parts for RVs to designing websites at an advertising agency. I hadn’t written in ages, but I certainly hadn’t given up reading, and eventually I remembered my old dreams–and decided to take them seriously.
When I wrote my first complete manuscript, a Regency-set historical, I hit two very important milestones: I finaled in a writing contest (which gave me the encouragement to keep trying) and I got my first critique partners (which was my first clue that there was a lot left to learn.) A year and four completed manuscripts later, I got a literary agent. I had talked myself into believing that once I hit that point, a book contract would fall from the sky. (It did not.) Even though that first book didn’t sell, I kept writing, my agent kept believing in me, and I sent her a new manuscript–Too Wicked To Kiss. Shortly thereafter, I went to Costa Rica.
Having already experienced the disappointment of my first agented manuscript not being the golden ticket, I was no longer in the habit of obsessively checking my email for news from prospective publishers. (Or possibly it’s because there was no wifi in my corner of the rainforest…) I was shocked to discover an Internet cafe, so I went inside with my laptop and logged into Gmail. As a few stray cows strolled down the paved road outside the cafe window, up pops an email from my agent, that says (paraphrased): “What do I have to do to get you to call me back?? I sold your book!!!”
Cursing my well-intentioned but ill-advised plan to disconnect my cellphone in order to avoid international roaming fees, I fired up my battered Blackberry and placed a semi-coherent long-distance call to New York City. She hadn’t just sold my book–she’d sold two of them! Huzzah!!
When I eventually got my phone bill, the roaming fees were astronomical… but worth every minute. (There was no way I was going to wait to return home before sharing the good news with my family and friends!)