My First Sale by Kresley Cole: The Rule of 25 (Don’t Try This at Home)
Kresley 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.
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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.