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My First Sale by Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter is not just another pretty face. She is the author of thirteen books, has made the New York Times Bestseller list a number of times, along with the USA Today bestselling list with another eleven more books in the hopper. Her range includes paranormal, contemporary, urban fantasy and young adult novels.

And of course, she is one of the star hosts of AuthorTalk, the hilarious videos featuring authors talking to other authors. Or Jill Monroe and Gena Showalter talking over other authors. It’s hard to watch those videos and NOT be tempted to read a Gena Showalter. After all, you’ll need an answer for the most important question of the universe–What is your favorite Gena Showalter novel?

There are plenty to choose from. Currently Showalter is enjoying a back to back to back release of her Lords of the Underworld series. The latest release, The Darkest Pleasure, is in stores now.


book review I’d written for a little over two years and had six manuscripts under my belt when I bagged an agent. Almost right away, we found a home for that sixth book, The Pleasure Slave. I shouted from the rooftops, told all my friends and family, and emailed my local writer’s group. Congratulations came pouring in. After all, my dream of becoming a published author had just come true. Until. . .

Two days later, for reasons no one could have predicted, we found out there would be no deal. I was devastated. I had to shout from the rooftops once again, only this time I was crying and embarrassed while doing so. I admit it, I sank into a funk. But the publishing house liked my voice so they later decided to buy my next book on proposal. A proposal that wasn’t yet written. (None of the other books under my bed would have worked. Except for one – which later became Animal Instincts — they were learning experiences.) So, I picked myself up with the help of my BFF Jill Monroe, hopeful once again, and wrote a new proposal, which turned out to be The Stone Prince. Deep down, I now realize I’d tried to recreate everything the publishing house had loved about The Pleasure Slave in the new manuscript. Sadly, though, they didn’t like this new effort.

book review Crushed again! Baby that I am, I wallowed for a few months. When I picked myself back up (again with the help of Jill) I finished writing the book. We shopped it everywhere, but no one wanted it. What was I doing wrong? I wondered. That question plagued me as I sat down to write my next manuscript. Awaken Me Darkly is what flowed out of me. In the back of my mind, I think I was trying to create something the exact opposite of the other two books. Where they were light and humorous, this one was dark and angst ridden. (Perhaps I went too far. You be the judge.) We shopped it, and once again rejections began pouring in.

book review Now, two more years had passed during all this writing and shopping. Two years of rejections. Then Harlequin decided to open up a single title line, HQN, and called my agent, hoping one of her other clients could write for them. That client couldn’t, but my agent said, "Have I got the author for you," and sent them The Stone Prince. A few weeks later, my agent received a fax. Seemed the phones were down at Harlequin but executive editor Tracy Farrell had read my book, loved it and wanted to discuss it in a week when she returned to office.

book review The day before Tracy returned, though, my agent left. Two weeks passed before the women were able to hook up. Two weeks of wondering and waiting, too afraid to hope. The only person I dared talk to about it was Jill Monroe. Again, I was too afraid. Then, the call came in. HQN did indeed want to buy it plus another book (which turned out to be The Pleasure Slave).

I didn’t tell anyone but Jill until the contract was signed. And yeah, after I signed those contracts I shouted from rooftops.

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. Jeaniene Frost
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 07:03:43

    Wow, talk about “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Yay for your die-hard perserverance!

    Looking forward to meeting you next week at Conestoga :).

  2. Jackie
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 07:15:32

    Along with being talented, determined, and smart, Gena is also super nice. And she’s beautiful. (Sigh. If I didn’t love her so much, I might hate her.) Congratulations on all your success, Gena!

  3. Christy Foster
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:06:30

    Goodness, Gena! You are just amazing. There is no way I could have plugged away at it and continue to be rejected. I am “shouting from the rooftops” (as we all know) that you didn’t give up (that’s the job of a book pimp, right?? lol).

    So… tell us… what happened with all of those other manuscripts that you didn’t sell? Or did you eventually?…. (inquiring minds want to know!).

    *scampering off to pimp more* (See? I’m tireless in my efforts to make you Queen of the World!) ((HUGS))

  4. Lara
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:13:28

    I actually remember when all of this was going on, and I felt *so* bad for you, Gena! It was the exact thing every new author worries about when they get an offer on their first book, and the thing all your friends assure you will *never* happen: “Don’t worry, it’s real — they’re not going to take their offer back…” Argh! But knowing what you went through, and seeing how hard you’ve worked (and how talented you are, not to mention genuinely nice to know) it just makes it that much sweeter to be cheering you on in all your current successes!

    Mega congrats, Gena, and thank you for so many wonderful books!

  5. Jill Monroe
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:14:50

    Great question, Christy – still wondering why no one has ever snapped up Heaven’s Fury – Gena’s first novel. The title alone…

  6. Felicia M. Ciaudelli
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:22:36

    Wow, Gena, that was quite a bit of rejection to go through. I’m too much of a baby and would STILL be wallowing – thank goodness for BFFs, right? I am SO glad that you were determined and persisted in your efforts!

  7. Kristen
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:31:35

    You’re the bomb, Gena. Your story inspires hope!

  8. JulieLeto
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:38:42

    Sigh. If I didn't love her so much, I might hate her.

    Jackie, so many of us feel that way!

    Seriously, I had the pleasure of doing a book tour with Gena and learned right away that she is one of those amazing people you want to keep as a friend for life. She’s so genuine and honest and funny and kind. My favorite Gena Showalter novel is whatever is most recent!

    Gena, I never knew about the sale/no-sale. If my respect for your work ethic could go up, it just would have…but it’s already at the top. Your creativity and talent amaze me! Not to mention your stick-to-it attitude. Wow. Shame on that other publisher. I bet they’re kicking themselves in the arse now! (Success is the best revenge!)

  9. gena showalter
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 08:58:01

    Wow! Thanks so much, guys!

    You know, things worked out the way they were meant to. I didn’t realize at the time, but all that pain was worth it. I wouldn’t be where I am now if things had happened differently. Christy, nope, all the other books are still buried. And what a shame — Heaven’s Fury is a real gem LOL

  10. Patty L.
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 09:43:46

    What a great story. I can only imagine the pain and anguish that you mush have suffer with so many rejections, but it was worth it. Your books are wonderful and since I haven’t met you I will have to go along with everyone else’s opinion and assume that you I should hate you on priciple for being beautiful and nice. LOL Just Kidding. Congrats on all of your success and continued good fortune.

  11. Christine Rimmer
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:10:40

    Gena, great story. You’re too, too, too, and more. Too talented, too cute, too funny, too smart. And much too lovely a person. And then there’s the whole “genius of interpretive dance” thing. It’s so not fair!

  12. Jax
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:37:42

    Very inspiring! I think that your strength and perserverance really helps. Look at you now!!! Congrats on all your accomplishments because you certainly deserve them…

  13. Sonya
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:41:42

    Gena, I think I love you… :-)

    You saved me from committing suicide! Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but I’ve been really, really low lately, and after reading this story, I have hope.

    I relate to so much of this. Like you, I wrote a bazillion (okay, seven) novels before I finally signed with a (wonderful) agent. Then that first book she repped didn’t sell anywhere – it was too YA for the adult market and too adult for the YA market. Sigh. So I wrote another one, made sure it was firmly Adult Urban Fantasy, No Room For Debate. It’s currently on submission and getting summarily rejected (the usual “I just didn’t fall in love” line…) It’s still out there, but I’m not encouraged about its prospects. Thankfully, my agent is, bless her heart.

    Still, to hedge my bets, I’ve started yet another novel. For about a day I felt pretty good about it, thinking maybe this time, this book will be loved. Then, doubt crept in and crippled my desire to write. No one will like this one either. I will never be published. I’ll never get to share my stories with the world. I should just take up accounting, and I definitely shouldn’t quit my day job (no, you don’t want to know what I do for a “living”…)

    Every writer I know, it seems most recently, has done this: agent–>contract! BAM! So I thought I was an anomaly, a flawed and hopeless case, with my agent–>heck no–>maybe…er, no progression. Now that I’m not alone (still, I wish you could’ve been spared this nightmare scenario), I think I’ll keep writing this book. Maybe someday I can say, I got my first sale almost the same way as Gena Showalter. :-)

    By the way, I picked up one of your books in the Darkest series and luuuurved it. I’m getting the others ASAP. You rock!

  14. Marley Gibson
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:44:34

    You’re a true inspiration and a rock star, Gena!!! Just shows that if you truly want this, you should NEVER give up!

    Marley = )

  15. Mel-O-Drama
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:51:39

    Gena, my little blueberry of love, you are an inspiration.

  16. MarnieColette
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 11:01:59

    I am glad you stuck with it — can’t imagine not having the Lords to read…

    All your books are great. I will tell you this… the first book I ever read by you was “Awaken Me Darkly” I loved Kyrin, after reading that I was hooked.

    Congrats on your past success and all the future ones you are going to have.

  17. Karin
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 11:11:19

    Gena, you are definitely a great example of perseverance paying off. Like Sonya wrote, the story of your first sell definitely gives hope and shows that if you really want something, you shouldn’t give up.

  18. Janine
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 12:01:43

    Great story. Like a some other “My First Sale” stories, it really illustrates the paramount importance of perseverence. But what I found most moving about it is the way it shows your friendship with Jill Monroe.

  19. Elaine C.
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 12:20:04

    I shudder to think of the romance world without your incredible fantasy writing voice. I really enjoy the worlds & characters you create. I am so glad you pursued your dream until the publishers woke up and noticed what a terrific writer you are!

    Every time I read these “My first sale” stories I always wonder how those initial publishers that rejected those manuscripts feel when seeing how well your books are received and adored by legions of fans and other authors.

    Awesome story!

  20. Jennybrat
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 12:25:44

    What a great “first sale” story. It makes your success that much sweeter.

  21. katiebabs
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 15:51:06

    WOW! Great story! :D
    I so loved Pleasure Slave.

  22. Christy Foster
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 22:39:13

    Gena, you tease! Do something about Heaven’s Fury!! I’m certain someone would want to buy it NOW. If not, they are morons… and then some!*crying myself to sleep* Okay… so I’m not going to be that dramatic about it, but you shouldn’t tease your book pimp in such a way… hee hee You know, my birthday just passed… and… a great gift would be…. :) hee hee

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