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My First Sale by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

visualWelcome 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.

Beyond Heaving BosomsWe 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.

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. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 04:43:13

    Yes, please, Dear Author, HABO (can I mix acronyms?) and send an eversion to a reader in Italy!!

  2. catie
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 04:59:01

    These two ladies are high-larious and I’m thrilled NY realized how brilliant our Smart (Dominican) Bitches are!

  3. Danielle D
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 05:41:51

    Congrats on your book!!!

  4. Heather Massey
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 05:49:05

    Many happy sales!

  5. Jayne
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 05:57:08

    Is there a “Return to Heaving Bosoms” in the works? Or perhaps, “The Bosoms Done Heaved” to look forward to?

  6. Barb Ferrer
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 06:10:05

    @Jayne: How about Beyond Heaving Man Titty?

    You think that might have a shot? Imagine the cover!

  7. Jayne
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 06:12:47

    LOL, Barb.

    “Manly Bosoms and Twitching Codpieces”

    They could have another contest for the cover!

  8. Gina
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 06:36:24

    This book was sold out of the two nearest Barnes and Noble stores nearest my house and I’m STILL waiting for them to call me and tell me my ordered copy is in. Congrats – on Long Island your a hit – now if only I could get my hands on a copy!!

  9. Julia
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 07:07:17

    Grats on the book! I would love to read it.

  10. Barb Ferrer
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 07:38:40


    “Manly Bosoms and Twitching Codpieces”

    Oh man, this just brought to mind an interactive cover. You stroke it lovingly and it… well, you know. *g*

  11. Emma
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 07:40:48

    Congrats on the book!

  12. SB Sarah
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 07:55:10

    I have to admit, the idea of a twitching codpiece would cause me to run in the other direction. I’ll probably have nightmares now wherein I’m pursued down damp and darkened alleyways by giant, twitching codpieces.

    Thank you for the congrats. I hope the ordered books arrive for y’all very soon!!

  13. Jayne
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 07:56:01

    Oh man, this just brought to mind an interactive cover. You stroke it lovingly and it… well, you know. *g*

    ::Smirk:: sort of a Bitchin adult version of “Pat the Bunny.”

  14. Barb Ferrer
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 08:00:23


    ::Smirk:: sort of a Bitchin adult version of “Pat the Bunny.”

    With pop ups!

  15. Anji
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 08:14:58

    The book sounds awesome, and yay for the Smart Bitches!

  16. Ruth
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 08:43:39

    I love visiting your blog so would love to read your book.

  17. azteclady
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 08:44:10

    Please don’t enter me, since I already have my bosoms :grin: oh boy do I have ’em!


    Anyway, I would so buy the twitching codpieces, it’s not even funny. Here’s hoping the Bitches score a runaway bestseller and write some more!

  18. Heather
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 08:46:01

    I would love to read the book. I enjoy the website and visit it daily.

  19. Carolyn Jewel
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 09:43:05

    I loved reading about the two proposal versions. It’s interesting how often authors say their success didn’t come until they let go of safe and went with what their guts / hearts/ instincts wanted.

  20. SonomaLass
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 10:41:18

    I’ve got mine already too, devoured and reviewed and in re-read. Can I say how glad I am that no stuffy publisher liked the first proposal?

    Congrats in advance to the lucky winners!

  21. Barb Ferrer
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 11:23:47

    Yeah, actually, I have my own version as well and reviewed it on my blog today as a matter of fact. I think that’s going to be one of my rare forays into reviewing because seriously– it is way time consuming– in a good way, but still! Anyone who doubts that Sarah and Candy and the Ja(y)nes do this out of love ought to try reviewing with the kind of depth they do.

    *exhausted hats off*

  22. Anthea Lawson
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 11:23:50

    Since my indie bookstore’s main distributor is out of Bosoms (good thing! Wonder if they have codpieces?) I’m waiting around for my order. Would love the e-mmediate gratification of virtual Bosoms!

    Also? Been trying to drop the term ‘heteronormativity’ in casual conversation wherever possible.

    Way to go, Bitches! And the floor–just sweep the part you can see, ignore the rest. ;)

  23. Janine
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 11:33:25

    I loved reading about the two proposal versions. It's interesting how often authors say their success didn't come until they let go of safe and went with what their guts / hearts/ instincts wanted.

    I find this interesting (and inspiring!) as well. Thanks for the first sale story!

  24. Kate Davies
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 11:36:35

    I was at the Rose City Romance Reader’s Luncheon on Saturday and not only was able to grab one of the only four copies the bookseller had with her, I got it signed! By Candy! Have to say it’s the best author autograph ever. Damn, I wish I was that funny.

    And I’ve never read a book that personifies LOL so perfectly. I’m scaring my children, I’m laughing so much.

  25. Dawn
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 12:04:22

    I loved Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I started reading it at work and laughed so hard my boss made me read parts of it out loud to her. We spent most of the day snickering and passing the book back and forth.
    I’m recommending it to all of my romance customers.

  26. Maya M.
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 12:20:16

    Still haven’t found in my local bookstore – trouble crossing the border? Or have I not investigated managers’ offices thoroughly enough?

  27. shel
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 13:27:37

    The book sounds great, congrats!

  28. hanne
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 14:33:56

    Congrats to both of you! I’d love to win a copy.

  29. Wandering Chopsticks
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 17:06:46

    I’d love to win a copy. I can’t imagine this book written without their snark and humor. How boring would that be?

  30. Yet Another Jennifer
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 17:45:09

    If I don’t win a copy I will definitely pick one up. It sounds like the perfect book to read on a rainy spring day!

  31. Jacqueline
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 17:59:20

    Great First Sale story! The book sounds great! :D

  32. LindaR (likari)
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 19:47:36

    I’ve bought ebooks before, but I don’t have a reader yet. Can’t decide which to get!

    But I downloaded the Sony reader software to my laptop just so I could buy this book — because my local store too didn’t have it.

    Count me among the happy that the dull, safe proposal didn’t make it. It’s a great read and so funny.

    BUT I truly have a problem with BHB. Mantitty should be one word!!!!!!

  33. Diane/Anonym2857
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 22:52:32

    I’m looking forward to reading this!

    Diane :o)

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