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My First Sale by Kresley Cole: The Rule of 25...

kresley_cole_headshot_jpeg.JPGKresley Cole is one of my favorite authors because her emphasis is on strong heroines. In both her historical series, the McCarrick Brothers Trilogy, and her paranormals, The Immortal After Dark series, the stories revolve around strong, independent heroines matching wits and sometimes, swords, with the heroes.

I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Cole and it is easy to see her as a modern day Valkyrie. Surely only a warrior woman would engage in a writing plan that she did. Her latest book, Wicked Deeds on a Winters’ Night is out in bookstores now.

* * *

As soon as I’d completed my first manuscript, I enlisted my husband to help me devise a plan to get it published. Since both of us have backgrounds in competitive sports, and that was what we knew best, we decided to attack the process of selling the book as if it were an aggressive training goal. We called our plan the “Rule of 25.”

At any given time, I would have in play 25 ventures toward publication, which I called juggling 25 “balls in the air” (it sounded so much more innocent back then). A ball could be one of five things: a contest entry, a confirmed conference registration often with an editor/ agent appointment, a formal critique in progress, a proposal sent to an agent, or a query to a publisher.

We put together an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything, and if I checked off a ball as completed-if I’d just returned from a conference, received a rejection, etc.-then the total would automatically deduct one. The Rule held that when one ball came back, another one went out within a day.

The number twenty-four still makes me twitch, Kiefer notwithstanding.

In the initial stages, the majority of the 25 consisted of contest entries and conferences, so I could learn more about craft and the industry. As I started getting feedback and polished my manuscript, I shifted the 25 toward agent queries as well. Only when I was confident my proposal was as strong as I could possibly make it did I begin querying publishers.

The upside of the plan: I sold within a year, after pitching the book to my editor in one of those conference editor/ agent appointments. The downside: all the hard knocks on the road to publication came at me fast. Receiving more than one rejection letter in a day wasn’t uncommon, and the daunting stream of them was steady and reliable.

As I’m reading back over this, recalling all that work and travel completed in such a short period of time, I’m forced to wonder what was I smoking?? if I would do it the same way now.

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. Jill Monroe
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 07:31:14

    Glad you worked so hard, because your books are fabulous!

  2. Kristen
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 07:33:57

    It’s no surprise to me that you put your husband to work helping you with this. I’ve never seen a man more intune with his wife’s needs. What brand of whip do you use again? ;o)

  3. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 08:42:43

    OH, I wanna know the answer to this one…

    what was I smoking??

    Just because I can’t imagine trying to work it from 25 different angles, nonstop. I’m exhausted even thinking about.

    :) Glad you did it, though. I love the IAD series.

  4. Ann Aguirre
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 09:41:16

    Wow, that’s terribly impressive. And organized. And impressive.

  5. sherry thomas
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 09:49:38

    After reading this, I feel very, very, very disorganized and slothful. No wonder it took me eight times as long to find a publisher! ;-)

  6. Jayne
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 09:58:12

    Wow, this makes everyone else look like a slacker!

  7. Jane A
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 10:01:00

    That’s an impressive schedule! I could all learn a thing or two from that, though whether it’d ever get implemented is a whole other thing. :0 I’m thankful you were so persistent, I love your books!

  8. Carrie Lofty
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 10:18:23

    Hmmm… what were you smoking… couldn’t have been pot, that’s for sure!

  9. Janine
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 11:25:30

    Wow, what a neat and different first sale story.

  10. Meljean Brook
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 12:34:22

    Count me in with another “impressive” and amazing — I can barely tie my shoes and breathe at the same time! :-D And I’m glad it payed off, for purely selfish reasons; I love your work.

    Great story.

  11. Jill Myles
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 12:37:37

    Pretty impressive! She made a goal for herself and went after it (and succeeded!).

    Now if we could just have a new IAD book every few months instead of once a year…I need a fix. *g*

  12. Ann Bruce
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 14:12:19

    Wow. My favourite “First Sale” story so far…even if I feel like a total slacker in comparison.

  13. K. Z. Snow
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 16:59:30

    Yikes. I’m at a loss for words, except…yikes. (Oh, and: May I borrow your husband?)

  14. Laura Florand
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 20:12:11

    Ten was my old rule. 25 is impressive!!

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