Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Today’s story comes from debut author, Julianna Stone, whose first book “His Darkest Hunger” is in stores tomorrow (or maybe even today).
My first sale story is more about how timing and luck play as much of a role in this game of publishing as talent does. At least that is what I believe.
A few years ago I picked up Dark Prince by Christine Feehan and everything changed. I discovered a paranormal world I adored and was at the right place in my life to give it a go myself. Writing that is! Something I'd always wanted to do, but never had the time before.
I immediately found an online community via the eharlequin site, met an amazing group of women who encouraged and helped me in my dream. I entered a contest with only a blurb (you were supposed to have a finished ms but my crit partner told me that some rules are meant to be broken) and got a request from an editor.
Okay had a moment where I totally freaked out and then sat down and wrote the damn thing in 6 weeks. Sent it off and decided to query agents while it was on its way to NY. I'd entered the first line of the ms in a contest on an agent blog and it garnered some interest. I thought what the hell? Can't hurt. I was blown away with two offers of representation right away.
My agent is awesome. She edited the ms. We did revisions and then four months after the contest that started this all we pitched to NY.
And then we waited. It was summer, spent time with the kids, went to my first Nationals and met my agent and some authorly types. Felt kinda inadequate because I'm not in anyway a "schooled" writer. In fact I felt really, really intimidated. I went to workshops where phrases were bandied about, things like "black moment" and "deep POV" and a bunch of other stuff that honestly, I had no idea what the heck they were talking about. I nodded and pretended that I knew but I came home feeling like I'd stepped in way over my head. How could I be a writer when really I knew nothing about it?
Luckily for me a month later my agent called with some news. An editor at one house loved the ms, but hated the ending. She might be open to a re-write. Cool. I'd do that. BUT she called once more with the news that an editor really liked it. Like a lot. It was Thursday, September 11th, 2008. She told me the editor would call me the following Monday.
Well, Monday came and went. No call. Tuesday came and went. No call. I was a mess. Thought I'd come so close and then nothing. Wednesday the phone rang and well, it was the editor. We chatted about the book, about my vision for this series. We joked about other stuff. She was very cool and I liked her. But not once did she say "I'm going to buy your book."
The next day I was in the bathtub and the phone rang. I'd brought it in with me, just in case. It was my agent calling to put me out of my misery. Avon wanted two books! I remember sitting in the tub holding the phone to my ear and shaking. I can't even remember what I said to my agent.
In passing I found out that the day before my editor read my ms, they'd decided in an editorial meeting that they needed another shifter type paranormal in their list. Luck? Timing? I can't say for sure, but man, I'm glad it was MY ms she picked up that fateful day.
However it happened, I am grateful, blessed and totally thrilled to be living my dream.
You can read the first 20% of Juliana’s book here (up to page 67).