I always wanted to write a book. So one day I got a hold of a copy of "The Writer’s Market" and started looking through it. There, I found pages upon pages of publishers looking for books. I came across Harlequin and decided they looked like they’d be an easy place to get published. After all, they publish so many books, certainly they must be dying for submissions, right?
So I read a couple Harlequins, decided I got the voice down, and wrote a 50,000 word novel about a girl who in the first chapter wakes up in a mental hospital after trying to kill herself and ends up falling in love with her psychiatrist. Yeah. That was going to sell to Harlequin!
I sent it out to an agent who wrote me back right away. She told me the writing was excellent, but that I needed to make the book longer. Harlequin didn’t take books where the heroine tries to commit suicide in the first chapter. (Go figure!) But I really had talent and I should call her right away.
Did I mention my phone phobia?
So instead of calling, I wrote 50,000 more words and sent the entire thing back to her. The next week I got a letter telling me she wished I had called first. Evidently she was having health problems and wasn’t doing much agenting anymore.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just get another agent.
Three years, two other manuscripts, and still no agent later, I was frustrated. Why did this have to be so hard? Why did I keep getting rejected?
In the summer of 2003, I decided to change gears and write the book I wanted to write. Not the one I thought would be an easy sell. I combined the voice of Chick Lit with a time travel plot – something that had never been done before. I called it, "A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court."
I pitched to an agent at a conference and she ended up taking me on. She helped me edit the book and then we sent it out. Problem was, it was so different, no one wanted to take a chance on it. The Chick Lit publishers thought that their readers wouldn’t accept a time travel plot. The time travel publishers thought that their readers wouldn’t accept a chick lit voice. It seemed that the book would never see the light of day.
Seven months later I went to the National RWA conference in Dallas. I saw hundreds of women there, all with the same goal as me. Some had been trying for twenty years to get published. I was overwhelmingly disheartened. Why did I think it would happen to me? What made me think my book was special? I contemplated quitting writing all together.
The only thing that kept me going was meeting Dorchester editor Kate Seaver at a party. She said she’d read the first 25 pages of my book and "loved it so far." I couldn’t sleep a wink that night after that!
A month later, she bought my book. Then I sold six more in the next seven months.
So I guess the moral of this rambling tale is this:
1) Write what you want to write, not what you think will sell.
2) Never give up.