My First Sale by Jill Shalvis
Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Friday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Jill Shalvis‘s new series about the Wilder family is kicked off at the end of this month with Instant Attraction. SB Sarah and I have been running a promotion for this wherein if you spread the word about Jill’s book, you are entered to win a FLIP Video Camera.
I first started writing just over ten years ago now, during a time I fondly refer to as the deep, dark years of hell. I had three kids under the age of five (don’t worry, we finally figured out what caused that problem J), I’d just lost my accounting job, and my husband had just officially burnt out on his job as a paramedic on the mean streets of downtown Los Angeles.
It was not a great time for either of to begin a new career. So of course we both did. I dove into writing with the same joy that reading romances had been giving me for years. I had no idea what I was doing, it was sheer reader instinct back then. In between diapers and bottles and baby naps (God bless the nap), I wrote what I thought was a suspense. When I finished, I bought the Literary Guide to Publishers and started sending out chapters randomly.
I was on my second book when I got a call. The woman identified herself as an editor from Bantam and I about passed out. I was standing in the kitchen with a baby in one arm, a kindegartner playing house with the Tupperware all over the floor, and me trying to shush them so I could hear. "I’m sorry," said breathlessly. "I missed your name."
She repeated it just as my middle daughter, a toddler, yelled from the other room, "Mom, I’m done, wipe me!"
Hand to heaven.
"I want to ask you a question," the editor whose name I still didn’t know, said. "Would you consider adding some sexual tension to your story so that we could sell it as a Loveswept?"
Huh? What was a Loveswept? I know, I know, but though I’d been a bookworm since third grade, and reading romances since seventh grade, I had never heard of a category romance. "You want . . . sexual tension?"
"Yes, please. And a love scene would be fantastic. If you’re okay with that, I’d like to buy your book."
Holy smokes. "I-‘"
"Mom, WIPE ME!!!
Thunk. which, by the way, was the sound of my head hitting the cabinets. "Consider it sold," I said, trying to remain cool, calm and collected when I wanted to do the happy dance.
And then I hung up.
On the editor.
My husband walked in the door and I shoved babies at him. "I sold a book."
"Cool. To who?"
"I have no idea . . ."
Thank God she called me back. I went on to write seven Loveswepts before that line closed. These days I write both single titles and still the occasional category, and hardly ever hang up on editors anymore.