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My First Sale by Jill Mansell First Sale Feature, Author of...

Jill Mansell Photo-1Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between.   UK bestselling author Jill Mansell has written nearly twenty romances, and sold over 4 million books.   A master of romantic comedy, her smart, sassy style has an irresistible appeal for women of all ages.   A full–time writer, Ms. Mansell worked for many years the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England. For more information, please visit or follow Jill on Twitter:


When I was struggling to become a published author I dreamed of the day the acceptance letter would fall through my letter box. I practically stalked our postman – poor man, I'm sure he used to dread coming to our house. How could he understand that I wanted an acceptance letter, not a returned, rejected manuscript?

In fact my first returned manuscript wasn't such a disappointment, as I didn't seriously expect anyone to publish me – it was a wonderful dream that I never imagined would become a reality. And the publisher – Harlequin Mills and Boon – sent me a wonderfully long letter with tons of helpful criticism. I tried so hard to do as they said when I started writing again. Unfortunately, they were telling me to cut down on the humour and ramp up the romantic element. The latter I could do, but the former defeated me. I discovered I couldn't write without being funny,  and that wasn't what they wanted. I kept on trying for a while, though. I still have six or seven of those manuscripts at home – so I'm very familiar with the thud of the unwanted returned novel on the mat!

But I changed direction eventually and decided to write the kind of novel I would enjoy reading myself. I sent it out to the first agent I'd chosen, who said it was unpublishable because too much happened in it. It was then rejected by a second agent who complained that not enough happened in it. So I sent it out to the third and final agent, because I simply couldn't afford all the postage. Luckily she loved it and phoned me up to tell me so. She wanted to meet me, and I travelled up to London on the hottest day of the year, terrified that she'd change her mind and turn me down when she saw my fake tan melting all over my legs…

Anyway, luckily she didn't. She submitted the book to two publishers. A week later I was at work when a call came from my lodger(landlord), to tell me (in her ditsy vague way) that my agent had called the house and said something   – my lodger wasn't sure exactly what – about selling some book or other.

Rumor Has It Since I wasn't allowed to make long distance calls from work, I called my agent when I got home that evening and she confirmed that an excellent publishing company had made an offer for a two book deal. I was hyperventilating with excitement and all alone in the house – my ditsy lodger had gone out. I rushed to the shops, bought two bottles of champagne I couldn't afford, and went round to a friend's house. More friends turned up. We went out and celebrated all night. My memories are hazy (!) but I know it was the happiest day of my life.(I'm allowed to say that as I hadn't yet had my children at that stage…)

The irony, of course, is that after all those years of waiting for the postman to deliver that momentous acceptance letter, all the good news came by phone. For any pre-published writers out there, stick with it and don't give up. When the acceptance comes, it doesn't matter how it reaches you – any way is fine. Good luck!

Rumor Has It is in stores May 2010.   Three lucky commenters will be entered to win a copy of the book.

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. Tweets that mention My First Sale by Jill Mansell First Sale Feature, Author of Rumor Has It | Dear Author --
    May 03, 2010 @ 04:16:15

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  2. Kara T
    May 03, 2010 @ 06:23:04

    So glad you didn’t give up after the first rejection!!! Love your books!!!

    ktulanko AT aol DOT com

  3. Carolyn Jewel
    May 03, 2010 @ 08:37:34

    Thanks for sharing your story (and providing the translation for Americans!)

  4. LauraB
    May 03, 2010 @ 09:21:26

    Sweet story. Thanks for sharing. I love humour and romance mixed together. As long time anglophile (see extraneous “u” above), I am pleased to see Dear Author interviewing an English author.

  5. Ros
    May 03, 2010 @ 09:36:03

    I’m so glad you persevered!! I think I’ve read your whole back catalogue and I’m always excited to see a new book of yours coming out. But I’m intrigued to know which was the first manuscript you sold? I have all the early ones in reprinted editions so I’m not sure which was first. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe Fast Friends? Or Solo?

  6. Ros
    May 03, 2010 @ 09:38:38

    Oh, also, I think that the first one I read was Perfect Timing which came free with a magazine. Since I’ve bought every other book you’ve written, I think that giveaway was more than worth it!

  7. Liz Fichera
    May 03, 2010 @ 09:53:12

    I loved that you decided to write the kind of novel that you wanted to read. Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

  8. jill mansell
    May 03, 2010 @ 10:55:17

    Hi, and thanks so much for the lovely comments! Yes, Ros, the giveaway of Perfect Timing won me lots of new readers, so was a good move by my publishers. And yes again, Fast Friends was that first book. Solo was the second, written on a tide of euphoria following the sale of FF!
    Jill x
    Oh, and I’m on Twitter as @JillMansell

  9. Talli Roland
    May 03, 2010 @ 11:28:02

    What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing!

    I’ve just read ‘Rumour Has It’ and I really enjoyed it. It’s as brilliant as all the other books, if not better.

  10. Pam Keener
    May 03, 2010 @ 11:31:30

    You are a new to me author but the premise of Rumour Has It sounds awesome.
    I also love your first sale story.
    Love & Hugs,

  11. Meg
    May 03, 2010 @ 12:16:19

    I adore Jill Mansell — thank goodness she kept submitting and working hard! Chick lit — especially British chick lit — wouldn’t be the same without her.

  12. Ros
    May 03, 2010 @ 12:31:02

    @jill mansell: I remember Fast Friends because the non-heroine was called Ros…

  13. runner10
    May 03, 2010 @ 13:20:38

    Looks like another great book from Jill.

  14. Janine
    May 03, 2010 @ 15:32:00

    Unfortunately, they were telling me to cut down on the humour and ramp up the romantic element. The latter I could do, but the former defeated me. I discovered I couldn't write without being funny, and that wasn't what they wanted.

    Isn’t it interesting how there are aspects of their writing that writers can’t change? There’s a lesson here about being true to oneself, I think. I’m really glad that you found a publisher who appreciated the humor in your voice.

  15. Susan Reader
    May 03, 2010 @ 15:54:00

    Coincidentally, I’ve been busy re-reading Jill Mansell these past few weeks… and I’m looking forward to the new one, “Take a Chance on Me”!

  16. Angie Peters
    May 03, 2010 @ 16:59:37

    What a fantastic Call Story, Jill! Your story also serves as a great lesson to be true to your voice, which is difficult to keep in mind when we’re so desperate to get published.

    I love humour in romance so I’m off to investigate your books :)

  17. Lobo
    May 04, 2010 @ 02:29:45

    Great story Jill, I love your books and looking forward for the new one.

  18. Lethea Benson
    May 05, 2010 @ 17:33:45

    I for one am so glad you kept going for your goal, it paid off for you and all of us readers as well=)
    I can’t wait to read the new book!

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