the books I have to read

Traditional Publishing: What was your first sale like?


It’s awesome.

As many of you know, I announced the sale of my book yesterday. The outpouring of love was tremendous, and will forever remain a happy memory.

When I read Stephen King’s ON WRITING, I was deeply inspired–not by the recommendations for how to write your prose, but rather, the story of when he learned he’d sold CARRIE. It’s a touching and personal moment of triumph for him, and I’d love to hear more stories like it… so I asked a few authors for theirs.

I hope you enjoy their moments of victory as much as I have.

“When my agent, Jill Corcoran, offered me representation, I was sitting in a salon chair, getting my hair cut. Then when she called a few days later, my phone disconnected before she could finish her sentence. Thank goodness she called right back. “Did you just hang up on me?” she asked. “No,” I said. “I’ve been having trouble with my cell carrier.” “Well, I have some news that’s going to change your life,” she said. And she told me we had multiple offers on This Is Not a Drill – within two days of sending it out on submission, which was crazy fast. My mom and sister happened to be at my house, so we all screamed and jumped up and down before I called my husband at work. Needless to say, I changed phone companies before talking with my new editor, Nancy Paulsen, at Penguin.”

Beck McDowell, author of THIS IS NOT A DRILL

I would imagine it was easy to change carriers with the advance money…

I woke up in New Zealand to my first book deal. I was pretty sure I was dreaming as I heard my agent on the other end of the phone in America. Honestly, I was shocked since I had got into the head space that it was never going to happen. I don’t think it ever really felt completely real until I actually held my book in my hand.

Philippa Ballantine, author of GEIST

Philippa’s sounds like an unforgettable waking dream. It’s clear and easy, almost like a movie.

The moment I found out I’d sold my first book, The Deathday Letter, to Simon Pulse, it felt like all the work—all the mornings and nights and weekends spent writing—were finally worth it. I’d finally achieved the one thing I’d wanted more than anything else in my life, and it was the greatest feeling in the world.”

Shaun Hutchinson, author of THE DEATHDAY LETTER

As a workaholic, I identify strongly with Shaun’s. Toward the middle of my (as of now) writing career, I began to understand that it’s a journey you take alone, working ceaselessly toward a goal you may never achieve.

My first offer came by phone while I was in line to pick up my son from preschool. I saw my agent’s name pop up, and I got so excited that I could barely talk. “So we have an offer,” she said, which I now know is what she always says. In the next week, she turned that offer into a 3-way bidding war, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. We spent that weekend in Athens, and we got the offer we eventually took while at The Civil Wars concert. The entire experience live in my memory as totally unreal, and sometimes I go back and look at the emails just to prove that it happened

Delilah S. Dawson, author of WICKED AS THEY COME

I like that luck seemed to strike Delilah in an inconvenient way, unscripted and in the middle of things. I’m surprised I didn’t find out my book sold while on the toilet.

“Upon selling BLACKBIRDS to a publisher, I literally made a sound like some sort of crank-addled sex chimpanzee. I have never made that sound before and will never make it again.”

Chuck Wendig, author of BLACKBIRDS

Chuck used the words “sex chimpanzee.” I just want to let that sink in for a bit while we all acknowledge that Chuck believes in sex chimpanzees. That, and he would feed them drugs. Shame on you, sir. Haven’t the sex chimpanzees suffered enough?

Image: the books I have to read, by Flickr user Andrea López, used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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