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. Two words “Harem Romance”. That is all I seem to need to say to friends to get them to pre order this book. Who knew harem romance was such a positive trigger? TIffany Clare’s The Surrender of a Lady is her debut book from St. Martin’s Press and it is about, you guessed it, a harem romance.
I'd like to say I have wanted to be a writer since my childhood years, but that's not quite the case. I had dreams of being a great writer until I hit highschool. That was when I started getting abysmal grades in all my English classes. So I focused on music and science instead. Many years later, I found romance novels and devoured every one I could get my hands on and began to dream of writing again.
Three paranormal manuscripts, a novella and ninety or so rejections later, I started weighing my options in the world of publishing. It was time to face some hard facts about my writing if I wanted to seek publication: I wasn't that great at writing paranormals.
So I started a new project that had been nagging to be told for a few months. It was set in Constantinople, the Isle of Corfu and ended in Italy (all during the Victorian period)-’settings and a time period I hadn't previously tried and knew nothing about. I told myself that publishers didn't want foreign settings with foreign characters in romance (my heroine is half Spanish and there are characters from many cultures in my book). But I didn't care, because I was writing something that kept me on my laptop desperate to know what would happen next in my heroine's, Jinan's, journey.
I had never read any books like the one I was writing. Yes, there are harem books out there, but I couldn't find one like mine in romance or in literary fiction. I was worried that a story so different from the norm might never live to see the light of day, but I was determined to find a home for it.
I met my agent at a conference. She offered representation within a few weeks. We talked about revisions and the story as a whole and I worked diligently on making my story better. Then I was on submission, and I patiently (well, not so patiently) waited for rejections and hopefully an offer to trickle in.
An offer for three books came in before any rejections could. I think I cried. I can't really remember. I know I was sitting in my cubicle at work trying to hold back my excitement-’my coworkers oblivious to the fact that my whole world had just changed.
The good news didn't stop with the offer, though. All the other houses still had to get back to us. We got a lot of positive rejections and another offer. I even got to talk to both editors before bidding commenced.
I couldn't believe that two houses wanted this book that I was scared crapless of writing because it was so different from everything I had ever read. It was nerve wracking (because I couldn't tell anyone except my critique partner and hubby), and a scary and exhilarating ride for the next two weeks! Then the final offer came in and I couldn't be more thrilled than to have sold to St. Martin's Press.
This time at work I didn't hold back my excitement. I emailed my whole office when the offer went up on Publishers Marketplace (some didn't even know that I wrote). I called my Mom and Dad who in turn told our gazillion member family my good fortune!
Finally, the day has come when I'll see my first book on the shelf in a bookstore. I can turn to the other women (and odd man) in the romance section and say . . . that's me! Okay, so they'll think I'm crazy (and I can admit that I am a little strange), but that's okay because every bit of the journey, the rejections, the learning, the frustrations, the high and low times have brought me here, to the final realization of my dream of becoming a published author.
THE SURRENDER OF A LADY hits shelves September 28, 2010. Comment below for a chance to win one of three (3) copies of my debut book. (Sorry, this contest is open to North American residents only.)