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My First Sale by Jill Myles

Jill MylesWelcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Jill Myles debut book, Gentlemen Prefer Succubi, is in stores now. You can read an excerpt here or visit her at OddShots.com.

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First Sale: Try, Fail, Try Again, Fail Better (did someone already use this heading?)

When I first started writing with the intention to publish, I did not know  anything about publishing. I didn’t even know how to write a proper query or what a synopsis was. All I knew was that I was going to rock the  book  world, baby! I was a genius, and surely it would not take too long for everyone else to figure that out.

That was in  um,  2003.

Someone I knew from an online writing forum had just sold a book to Luna, Harlequin’s new fantasy line. What a coincidence! I’d just written a big fat fantasy. With shape-changers and a one-eyed hero and some world-building that probably didn’t make sense but would all be explained in book two of a seven book cycle-Not that I let things like that deter me! So I wrote my three page query letter and stuffed it in an envelope with my twenty page synopsis and the first three chapters of my 150,000 word opus. And I put a teeny tiny envelope in as the SASE, because they wouldn’t need to send it back to me. They’d take one look and fall in love. Right? Right.  Who needed to spend all that postage. Not me, budding publishing rockstar.

Yeah. Form rejection, 3 months later. They’d shoved all the pages in a big Harlequin envelope and sent everything back to me.

I was puzzled by the form rejection. What was wrong with what I’d sent? They published fantasy – I’d written a fantasy. HELLO.  I wasn’t going to let a little thing like  ‘rejection’  stop me, though.  I flipped through the package and noticed that the first two pages of the synopsis had coffee stains on them, but the rest of it was untouched. Okay, so they’d stopped reading at two pages in.

I could fix that.

So  I started asking around. And everyone that I asked pretty much choked on their coffee and pointed out that the proper synopsis is much, much shorter than twenty single-spaced pages. That one  page  was the ideal length.

I could do a one page synopsis! Just, uh-not with that novel. So I wrote another  book.  And then another  book.

That last novel  was something special in my mind. It was modern day fantasy, full of valkyries and a smack-talking horse, and dead people and it was unique. I loved it and NO ONE HAD DONE VALKYRIES YET. I was a genius. Stardom was at hand!

And then I opened the May 2005 Romantic Times Magazine and saw an article about Kresley Cole-who was writing a series on valkyries.

I admit it. I cried for 3 days. Kresley Cole – dream crusher. She’d stolen my idea.

After I had a nice long (3-day) cry, I got over it, and decided to query my book anyhow. I got lots of form rejections, but this time my package was better. A one page query, and a one page synopsis. A polished sample chapter or three. And I got really close, but no one wanted a funny, unromantic book about a modern-day valkyrie. Half the agents I sent it to didn’t even know what a valkyrie was (I bet they do now, though).

So I wrote another book. Another silly book, but this time a little sexier. About a gal who was transformed into a succubus and had not one, but two hot men. Another original idea! Badass = ME.

And then I saw that some  ‘nobody’  named Richelle Mead sold her succubus series. And then Jackie Kessler sold hers right after.

(Cue 3 more days of crying.)

But I sent it out anyhow. Copycat, shmopycat.  I loved the book, and it was fun and maybe a little funny. It was the best thing I’d written, and I didn’t want to give up on this one just because someone else had the same idea I had.  And after some revising and rewriting-I had an agent.  Who told me that it was okay to write a story starring the same paranormal creature as someone else. Really! People did it all the time! (Novel concept, I know.)  And after some submissions and some waiting-it sold.

And it’s finally here.

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

18 Comments

  1. Elyssa Papa
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 12:22:48

    I loved this. Thanks for reminding me it’s okay to copycat and to freak out and that things do happen, even when it seems like it won’t. I’ve pre-ordered GPS and can’t wait to read it.

  2. Jill Sorenson
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 12:29:20

    Love the story, Jill! Kresley Cole, dream crusher, LOL. I’ve had a few of those unsettling discoveries (Nora Roberts’ Black Hills, sob) so I totally get it. Wish you much success.

  3. Juliana Stone
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 12:29:24

    LOL I loved your story too! Good luck with your new series….it sounds very cool and hey, the cover is pretty hawt too!

  4. Meljean
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 13:36:02

    Kresley Cole – dream crusher.

    Hello, I now have tea up my nose. And I notice you have sexy angels in your books, too. STEALER!

    :-D

  5. Heather Massey
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 13:36:44

    So glad you triumphed, Jill, and many happy sales!

  6. Jill Myles
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 13:45:26

    Hello, I now have tea up my nose. And I notice you have sexy angels in your books, too. STEALER!

    :-D

    OMG NOOO. Who let Meljean read this? DANGIT!

    :)

  7. Stephanie Draven
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 14:38:50

    Haha. I love this. I’ll keep an eye out for your books!

  8. Janine
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 14:40:23

    Great story, Jill!

  9. katiebabs
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 14:44:14

    I’m going to start writing my epic Valkyrie Succubus romance now. ;)

  10. Rose Pressey
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 17:06:08

    Kresley Cole – Dream Crusher. LOL.

    I’m headed to Barnes and Noble tomorrow to get a shiny copy of your book. Congrats again!

  11. RKCharron
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 17:34:58

    Hi Jill :)
    Thank you for sharing here today. I loved your humorous and witty post.
    I can totally relate to the synchronicity of ideas.
    Happy Holidays!
    RKCharron

  12. Tomorrow… |
    Dec 28, 2009 @ 21:52:57

    […] was also over at Dear Author today for the First Sale letter, and Mandi at Smexy Books reviewed Gentlemen Prefer […]

  13. Kate Pearce
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:32:56

    Why do these big authors keep on doing that? LOL What a great first sale story-congrats!

  14. gwen hayes
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:40:07

    Great first sale story, Jill. I wish you much success!

  15. Lori Green
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 06:01:46

    Love it. And love your serious Valkyries and smack talking horse. Really? Not funny?

    I look forward to reading your debut novel.

  16. Carolyn Jewel
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 10:20:15

    Thanks for sharing your story. I do love reading about first sales. But **coff** watch out for Meljean.

  17. Tracey D
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 17:04:18

    Congrats on your debut novel. It must be so exciting for you. I look forward in reading it.

    Thanks!

  18. Biki
    Jan 03, 2010 @ 03:26:02

    Congratulations Jill! I’ve been looking for our book since I heard it was released but I think luck (and the weather) is against me. Hopefully soon though–I can’t wait!

    Congratulations again on your debut and the next release (I believe another is coming up soon?)

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