My First Sale by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Today’s first sale story comes from well known bloggers, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan. Their nonfiction, women’s studies, literary criticism, comedy, technical manual, work of art can be found in some bookstores in various sections of the bookstore (sometimes on the manager’s desk so you might need to ask), is in stores now. You can buy the ebook version at BooksonBoard (I think the coupon code “SmartOnBoard” still works).
Candy and I spent a lot of time on the floor – not with each other. And not in that way. But when we first received an email from Rose Hilliard asking if we’d ever thought of writing a book, when we signed with our agent, Secret Agent Dan at Writer’s House, when we had conference calls to talk about the process of selling a proposal, and when we finally had responses from publishers, we had to pick ourselves up off the floor. Repeatedly.
As we’ve often said, we never expected Smart Bitches to be as popular as it has become. I still remember when it was me, Candy, her friend in Singapore, my husband, and that guy who Googled “Dominican Bitches” every day and repeatedly visited our site. I never thought any of this would happen.
We stumbled into authorhood the same way we’ve stumbled into everything, with the silliness and the snorting and the humor and the analysis and the snark and the love of romance novels underscoring what we do. We had a billion crazy ideas, but in the end, we wrote two proposals. First, the more incisive academic-type analysis-laden one, which was rejected by one, all, sundry, and between because it was too serious and where was the funny bitchy parts? Then, we went back, rubbed some funk on it, wrapped it in rich, flaky layers of delicate funny, did all the things we wanted to do in the first proposal but didn’t think would fit in the “serious” world of book publishing, and sent that sumbitch back out for another round.
Honestly, I didn’t think it would sell. I thought the rhetoric and style of blogging and the language of books, particularly nonfiction books, were too far apart to be reconciled. Plus, our site is what it is because of the community of people who interact with us, and how in the world would we incorporate that into a book? (By quoting as many of them as we possibly could, that’s how!) I figured the experience of meeting with an agent, learning the process of proposal writing, and writing two of them would be the extent of our foray into publishing. I didn’t think that our style of looking at the genre had a chance of selling, and that seemed to be confirmed by the number of responses we received that said, “I’ve never laughed so hard at a book proposal in my life, but we’ll have to pass.”
Then, we heard that Dan had “good news” and wanted to talk to us. And even with the words “good” and “news” in the same sentence, when I took the conference call at my desk at work with Secret Agent Dan and Candy, who had to get up at ass o’clock in the morning to take part in the call, I didn’t expect any of the words Dan said to come out of his mouth. I didn’t expect ‘offer’ ‘advance’ ‘Touchstone/Fireside’ or ‘book’ to exit the phone and enter my ear, let alone that those words were about us.
I do remember very clearly having to put my head between my legs because I was dead certain I was going to pass out and have to pick myself up off the floor yet again.
And now that the book is out, and Candy has had epic win of turnout and audience participation at Powell’s, and I’m driving all over the northeast signing the book and meeting our readers, the experience is just as surreal as when we started.
And I’m still picking myself up off the floor. Candy’s down here, too. Holy shit, we need to vacuum.
Interested in reading more by Sarah and Candy? Drop a comment and I’ll send five random commenters an eversion.