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 we are featuring two first sale letters. Lori Brighton is a debut author with her first historical, Wild Heart, due out in November. Don’t forget to read the bottom of the first sale story to learn how to win one of 3 $10 gift certificates.
When is it time to give up on a dream? After a year? Three years? Six? I’ve often pondered that question on my road to publication.
I wasn’t one of those writers who was reading at three and journaling at five. Honestly, English class and all the grammar rules that came with bored me to tears. But I did read a lot, and my imagination was insatiable. To escape those angst-ridden teenage years, I’d make up stories. By the time I was an adult, I had so many tales clambering around in my head that for my own peace of mind I decided to put one to paper.
I didn’t start writing until about seven years ago. I’d heard those Cinderella stories of people getting published after only a year of trying, and with their first book, no less. Silly enough, I assumed that would be me. Then the rejection letters came from agents and editors-so many I could more than wallpaper a wall. Heck, I could wallpaper my entire house. Finaling in writing contests and getting just enough praise to know that at least someone liked my work kept me going.
About three years ago I started my third book, a historical titled Wild Heart. Call it instinct, but I was positive Wild Heart would be published. Then those familiar rejection letters started arriving. "Don’t worry, it only takes one editor or agent to like your book," my critique partners and friends would say. Frankly, I thought it was a bunch of bull. After all, if one editor liked your book, wouldn’t they all? Weren’t they one like-minded blob? After getting a rejection from just about every agent and editor I could, I figured Wild Heart was destined to be set aside, and I started to seriously wonder what I was doing wrong.
Contests were my last resort to put Wild Heart in front of editors who normally wouldn’t give it a second glance. When I got the email from the Golden Acorn Contest telling me I’d placed first in the historical category and that Hilary Sares from Kensington wanted to see the full, I knew this was my chance. I immediately printed the 400 pages and mailed it off, hoping for the best. Months went by without a word. I chalked the request up to another rejection and started thinking about the next book I’d write. Then one day the phone rang-.
The caller I.D. said New York, but at the time I knew no one there and didn’t answer. A bit later I listened to the message. It was from Hilary, and they were interested in buying Wild Heart. It took me about 30 minutes to return Hilary’s call. Yes, I should have called immediately, but I couldn’t seem to breathe, let alone talk. Suddenly, after years of trying, I was going to be a published author. That call came about a year ago. Now, in only a little over a month, my debut book Wild Heart will be released.
During those six years from the time I started my first book until I got the call, there were many times I wanted to quit, but fortunately I loved writing too much to stop. I didn’t sell in a year, or two, or even three. But I did sell. And all I can think is, thank god I didn’t let those rejection letters bury my dreams.
Just recently on one of my loops someone asked that question: "When is it time to give up?" Most people responded, "When it’s not fun anymore." But I’d take that response even further. When is it time to give up on a dream? When you can. When you can walk away without a glance back- no regrets, no wondering what could have been.
So what about you? Tell me about a goal or dream you’ve worked hard for, or just leave a comment and email address. Three people will win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card.