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My First Sale by Lara Adrian, Learning How to Make Lemonade...

I get a lot of phone calls from people who have been fired, distraught and unable to visualize what could possibly come next. I tell them, each one of them, I am sure that they will look back and say that was the best thing that could have happened. Lara Adrian suffered something akin to a termination. After three contracts with Ballantine, word came that she was not going to be offered another. Her career appeared to be over. But, it was the best thing that could have happened to her because Adrian created a new series in late 2005 which became The Breed books. Her first one, The Midnight Breed, Book 1: Kiss of Midnight, made it on the USA Today list, marking her first appearance on that list. The second in the series, The Midnight Breed, Book 2: Kiss of Crimson, also debuted on the list at 62. Hers is a story of rebirth or, as my mother would say, making lemonade out of the lemons.

***

The Midnight Breed, Book 1: Kiss of MidnightIt took me two years to write my first manuscript, a medieval romance called Lord of Vengeance. At that time, in late 1997, it seemed like it was harder to acquire an agent as an unpublished writer than it was to get the attention of an editor (maybe it still is?). After talking with a couple of agents at conferences, I decided to venture out on my own and send my manuscript over-the-transom (aka, via the slush pile) to my short list of dream publishers.

Within a few weeks, I had some promising requests for more material, but peppered among them were the rejections. A couple were form letters or polite “not right for us” responses, but one editor wrote such a nice, encouraging rejection letter I framed it and kept it on my wall for years, even after I sold. Another editor actually called me to reject the manuscript–just my luck that “the call” really wasn’t “the call” at all! The good news was, both of these editors extended offers to work directly with me on something else, should my first manuscript not find a publisher.

On January 26, 1998, I picked my husband up from work and told him that I didn’t think Lord of Vengeance was going to sell. It had been four months since I’d begun submitting it (I didn’t realize then how little time that was by NYC publishing standards), and I thought I should probably consider shelving the book and giving one of the two interested editors a call about starting something new. Literally a few minutes after we walked in the door, around 4:30pm, the phone rang. It was Shauna Summers from Ballantine Books. She told me she loved my manuscript and wanted to make an offer to buy it!

Flash forward seven years, to late August 2005. I’d received a lot of nice reviews, collected a few awards, but medieval romance sales were down–well, mine were, at any rate. I had just wrapped my third contract with Ballantine and was waiting on word about my option book, the last title in a series I was writing for them. My husband and I had just closed on our condo the week before–our first home together after about twenty years of renting–when I got word that Ballantine wouldn’t be offering for another historical from me. So, there I was with a brand new mortgage and it appeared that my career, as of that moment, was over.

The suggestion from Ballantine was that I come back to them with something contemporary/paranormal. What no one knew, including my agent, was that I’d been dying to try my hand at that very thing for a long time. In fact, I had intended to pitch an idea for a dark paranormal after I finished the last book in my medieval series. I got to work and put together a proposal for my agent for the book that would become Kiss of Midnight. She was very enthusiastic about the material and in mid-September, she sent it out to several houses.

The Midnight Breed, Book 2: Kiss of CrimsonWe got a nibble on it the next morning. Then another one the next day, with more editors interested as well. My agent told everyone to come back in a week with their best offers. Let me tell you, that was the Longest Week In History. In the end, I chose to sign with Bantam Dell. And here’s a nice bit of karma: During my tenure at Ballantine, my acquiring editor, Shauna Summers, took a career hiatus to pursue an advanced degree. She returned to publishing a few years later, going to work for Bantam Dell. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that she wanted to work with me again on this new project under a new pen name, and accepting her offer for my “first book” the second time around only made the moment that much sweeter!

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

14 Comments

  1. Jill Monroe
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 08:15:50

    Those are the kind of stories I love to hear!

    ReplyReply

  2. Kerry Allen
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 08:45:42

    “So, there I was with a brand new mortgage and it appeared that my career, as of that moment, was over.”

    A career in writing sometimes sounds best suited for adrenaline junkies who never think of tomorrow.

    Going from unemployment to having a bunch of editors fighting over you would soothe a lot of bumps and bruises, though!

    ReplyReply

  3. Jaci Burton
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 08:59:15

    I’m so glad Lara never gave up. And good things often happen to really great people. Lara is great people. And she has a boatload of talent.

    I love the Midnight Breed series, and I’m not at all surprised by its success.

    Congrats, Lara!

    ReplyReply

  4. HelenKay
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 10:13:33

    That is a fabulous First Sale story. I’m so impressed you didn’t give up. And now look how well you’re doing! Congrats!

    ReplyReply

  5. Larissa Ione
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 10:58:09

    Huge congrats, Lara! I love stories about writers who don’t give up, because it’s so easy to do. And look at you now! :)

    ReplyReply

  6. Ellie M.
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 13:37:53

    Great story! Slow and steady wins the …. contract :)

    ReplyReply

  7. Paula
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 13:47:53

    I’m loving this series. I’m glad she switched to paranormal, otherwise I might not of had the pleasure of reading these books.

    ReplyReply

  8. Karen W.
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 17:26:05

    Great story, and I love to see the good guys (gals?) win! :-) I’m glad you didn’t give up, and good luck with your new success!

    ReplyReply

  9. barbara
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 06:08:44

    Congrats! I am glad that you didn’t give up, your books are great!

    ReplyReply

  10. Julie Leto
    Jun 09, 2007 @ 13:14:20

    Lara, I just saw your books (both of them) today at Waldens, very prominently displayed on the New Release wall and told a friend who I was talking to on the phone how gorgeous your covers were. Then I come home and read this wonderful story. I wasn’t planning on buying any new books until I made a dent in my TBR. Another rule I’m going to break!

    Congratulations on your hard-earned success!!!

    ReplyReply

  11. Jennifer Ashley
    Jun 11, 2007 @ 18:03:32

    Thanks for sharing your story, Lara–I love “never give up, you never know” stories like this! I can imagine the nausea on hearing that your publisher passed on the option book, especially with the mortgage thing. But look at you now! You go! And congrats on making USA Today!

    Jennifer Ashley (who really should be writing, LOL)

    ReplyReply

  12. Ter Harris
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 08:39:39

    Hello Lara,
    I was reading a magazine I picked up at work and saw the ad for “Kiss of Midnight.” I thought to myself this is just what I need. That night I went out and bought “Kiss of Midnight”.
    I was on the last chapter when I thought to myself “I have to buy Kiss of Crimson” today, so I did just that. As I came to the end of Kiss of Crimson I came upon the page “Midnight Awakening” for sale on December 2007. My reply “OH MAN” as I wanted to continue the saga with Tegan and Tess. I can’t wait for December to come.
    Because of work I have not picked up an actual book in along time. Your book took me away and I truly have to thank you for that. I then decided to go online and look you up. I just needed to read more of your books. I was disappointed to know that you were a new Author, as I was all set to go buy all of your books. l was very inspired by your challenges and hard work.
    If you keep writing like this I am sure that you will become a legend.
    Good luck to you and I am looking forward to reading your books in the future.

    ReplyReply

  13. Angie
    Mar 19, 2008 @ 10:36:52

    Great story! I’m really impressed with your tenacity and how you stuck with it! I’m feel so inspired now.

    ReplyReply

  14. ghd
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 15:28:08

    I was initially happy to discover this web-site.I desired to appreciate it for your time with this great study!! I surely taking advantage of every little bit of it all and I’ve you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you text.

    ReplyReply

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