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My First Sale by Karen Harper

author photo of Karen HarperWelcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Karen Harper’s latest work, Mistress Shakespeare, is in stores now.


Although I was actually published for the first time in the spring of 1982 and have written almost fifty novels, the truth is that every book is, in one way or the other, a first book, a first sale.

For one thing, it’s thrilling to know publishers and readers (hopefully reviewers too!) like my work. That excitement never goes away, nor does the first time I see that book "in the flesh," that is, in paper or audio book format. An old telephone company ad urged customers to "Reach out and touch someone." That’s the way I react each time I have a new sale or see my new book. I feel I and my characters are reaching out to readers.

Cover image for Mistress ShakespeareSecondly, there is something new and special about each book. MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE is very important to me for several reasons. It is the first book I ever wrote in first person, where the heroine tells her own story. I found it a fabulous way to really get inside the main character, in this case, to see things through Anne Whateley’s eyes. It makes her tough times and her passionate love for-‘and arguments with!-‘Will Shakespeare really come alive. It also puts the author and the reader right there, up close and personal in the heroine’s life. We suffer with her and triumph with her. We see Tudor London with her for the first time, we understand her admiration for the ultimate rock star of the day-‘Queen Elizabeth I. It was such a powerful way to tell a story that I used first person in my next historical novel, THE QUEEN’S GOVERNESS, which will also be released this winter.

Lastly, MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE carries the impact of a first sale for me in that it is a story I have been wanting to tell for years. I love visiting England and reading English history, especially the Tudor era. I used to teach Shakespeare in high school where the students put on an Elizabethan Festival each year, including dancing, jousting, play scenes-‘and a (mock!) beheading. I find all the main characters so compelling that I had to tell the real story of Shakespeare in love.

And when I held MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE with its beautiful cover in my hands the first time, I was as thrilled as I was with my first sale years ago.

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. German Reader
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 18:29:26

    If this were a school essay, a teacher here would grade this: Thema verfehlt! 6
    (Missed the subject! F)

    I don’t know how others feel but this enthusiastic book promotion at the wrong place turns me completely off the author.

    (But maybe it’s only my bad mood because I botched my hair dye job today.)

  2. Lois
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 19:14:22

    I agree with German Reader. I enjoy reading about the authors FIRST SALE. In fact i look forward to it each week.

    I’ve read some Karen Harper stuff, and I enjoy her work. If she’d actually told about her first sale, then mentioned her new book, I’d have been more inclined to look into the new book. Instead, I felt like she was saying “Instead of telling you about my first sale, which is what you want to hear, I’m going to promote my new book, but try to do it in a sneaky way so you think it’s about my frist sale.” Um, yeah, we’re not that dumb.

  3. Christine M.
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 19:24:48

    I have to agree with .German Reader here…. where’s the first sale story? I usually enjoy these posts as I get a glimpse at the author’s hard work before they actually managed to get that book on the shelves, be it that they have published 1 or 50 books. I would have enjoyed to hear the story of how getting published was like in 1982. Instead, I barely skimmed the paragraphs when I realised this was not about a first sale.

  4. liz...
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 01:57:21

    Bad form Ms. Harper…Very bad form!

  5. Ima
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 13:31:38

    Ms. Harper totally missed the subject here.

    I’ve never read her work and I’m not interested now since this was just a promo.

    I must say that I’ve enjoyed some other author’s stories recounting their First Sale.

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