My First Sale by Liz Maverick
Bestselling, award-winning author Liz Maverick is a novelist, adventurer and odd jobs specialist whose contract assignments have taken her from driving trucks in Antarctica to working behind the scenes on reality TV shows in Hollywood. She holds a BS from UC Berkeley, a CPA, and an MBA from UCLA.
Liz is known for writing out-of-the-box romance novels with fast-paced, unique plots and lots of kick-butt action. Her previous works include Cosmopolitan Magazine Book Club Pick What a Girl Wants, PRISM/Daphne finalist The Shadow Runners, Golden Leaf/Quill winner Crimson Rogue, and Waldenbooks/B&N bestseller Crimson City, the first book in the multi-author continuity series she created for Dorchester Publishing. Her newest project is Wired, the launch title for Dorchester’s innovative new Shomi line.
Liz and her books have been featured on Fox’s Geraldo at Large and in USA Today, Cosmopolitan Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Toronto Star, and more.
The story of my first sale is full of madcap adventures, drunken brawls at publishing parties, and epic journeys across desert sands in search of a FedEx box five minutes before pickup time. Well, not really. That's what happened once I got published–"actually, the sands bit wasn't the worst. You haven't really dealt with a deadline until you've walked through near whiteout conditions to reach the post office at a research station in Antarctica before the last plane leaves.
But I digress.
First Sale Case Study: The Comedy
That comedy showed so much promise. So much promise. Every month or so the editor would say. "I love it. It's so fresh! It's so funny! It's so smart! It just needs to work its way through the committee.–? (Note: Anytime an editor uses the word "committee–? immediately begin developing a Plan B)
You wait so long you could've given birth in the time it took to get a response on your loved, fresh, funny, smart manuscript, and then the axe falls and it's over. It's over. It's over, it's over, it's over.
But it isn't over. Ignore that some overworked and overslushpiled committee in New York going through a stack of manuscripts while they're smoking something an intern brought back from Nepal says it's over. It isn't over until you say it yourself.
So it's another few rounds of "Hi! You once complimented the unique Navajo pattern of my socks three years ago at a conference in Tennessee. Can I buy you a cocktail and tell you about my latest project?–? Until finally you meet an editor who gets you and who you get back. And then when you have a small but targeted list of editors who all get it, you pull yourself together and you query them with the best damn letter you ever wrote.
And one day, the rejected manuscript from the committee makes its way back across the country and lands on your doorstep with a sound that's a combination of sonic boom and "splat.–? (Thanks, but I'm not sure I really wanted it back. And by the way is that stuff on page 17 petrified Cheez Whiz or that hash from Nepal?)
You try not to cry. And no need to. Because on that exact same day the phone rings, and someone else in New York wants to see the manuscript STAT. All you can think as you package it up a fresh one and run to FedEx is that you hope this next try doesn't also take nine months because being the single mother of two outcast manuscripts smeared with questionable substances just isn't what you had in mind.
But the end is a happy one. This time the editor loves it, and there's no committee. She springs the sale on you at a conference where there are plenty of wonderful, booky people around with whom to share the good news.
Squee! Woot! Huzzah! What a feeling. What a feeeeeeeling.
Because then you decide that what you really want to write are darker, edgier, paranormally, futuristic, action, romance-y things. But your editor doesn't want that. So you have to go back to basics and start it all again (That would be First Sale Case Study: The Paranormal Action Romance, which I'll save for another day since it's technically my third sale. And this isn't a column about third sales. Although that would be funny, wouldn't it? "Tell me about your third sale.–? Er, never mind.)
The thing is, sometimes your first sale isn't your true first sale. Sometimes your true first sale is something that happens a bit later in your career when you've finally discovered what it is you really want to write and you just need to find someone to believe in it. I sold some comedies and I sold some darker action romances and then…then, I found it. Right between those two genres where snappy comedic banter mingles with dark, dark angst, the future winds around the present, and car chases share time with romance, I wrote a book called WIRED. I think it's technically my ninth sale, but honestly it feels like a first. And that feeling you get with a first sale never, never gets old.