Saturday, February 25, 2012

My road to publishing

As an end to the How to Write Your Stupid Book series, I thought it fitting to share how I became published. It may bore you to death so I apologize in advance for that.

1. I wrote a terrible book. It had no premise. No voice. No genre. It took up 10 Hilroy coil bound notebooks because I wrote it long hand.

2. I wrote another book. It was better only because it was typed.

3. I sent many, many query letters and sample chapters by snail mail to many, many agents.

4. I stalked my mail box for months until slo-o-o-wly the form rejections began rolling in.

5. I wrote a third book and I went to a writers' conference in my home town. I attended every single session on every topic for 3 days until my head exploded and I came home.

6. I sent many, many query letters and synopsis to many, many agents.

7. Rejections rolled in over a period of months, however, a FEW asked me to resubmit my next project.

8. I wrote a fourth book. I went back to the writers' conference (9 months pregnant with my 4th child) and pitched my book to none other than THE Donald Maass (because I didn’t know what a foolish idea that was at the time). Through the entire pitch I was having contractions. He was polite and kind but didn’t ask to see a copy of my book.

9. I wrote PART of a fifth book. It wasn’t bad. It had MY voice. It was MY genre which was a cross between mystery and romance. Someone told me it was Chicklit and I thought that was gum. I pitched it to author Nancy Warren who said it had great potential and suggested I send it to Red Dress Ink (a division of Harlequin) because I wouldn’t need an agent to submit to them. Everyone told me it would take MONTHS for Red Dress Ink (RDI) to get back to me because they were extremely backlogged and this was still in the day when everything had to be snail mailed.

10. I received a letter in the mail from Kathryn Lye, editor of Red Dress Ink, 2 weeks later asking to see the completed book immediately. But I’d only written 3 chapters.

11. With 4 kids under 10 years of age I wrote night and day for 6 weeks until I completed Cat’s Pajamas (aka Dating Can Be Deadly) and I sent it in before Kathryn Lye and Red Dress Ink could forget my name.

12. I received a phone call from Red Dress Ink wanting to buy my book. I was cleaning a turtle aquarium at the time of the call and was up to my elbows in turtle shit. I will never forget how great that was.

13. After Dating Can Be Deadly came out I was able to find an agent (big surprise) but it wasn’t a good fit. I was unable to sell another book until the Ghost Dusters series a few years later.

14. This year I spoke as a presenter (for the 3rd time) at the same writers’ conference that has helped me all these years. I also sat next to Donald Maass at lunch and we chatted about life in general and I didn’t once bring up the fact that my water almost broke all over his fancy new shoes back in 1999 and that he didn’t ask to see my query letter. But I did get back at him by purchasing Robert Dugoni’s t-shirt at a raffle and insisting Donald be the one to remove it from Robert’s body hee hee.

I share these points only because I want you to know if your plan is to be published you need to keep at it. Actually, no matter WHAT your dream is, you need to keep going after it. Even if it means you’ll have to clean some turtle poop.


Wendy Norris Roberts said...

And we are eternally grateful that after all of that turtle shit, Dating Can Be Deadly and the Ghost Dusters series was born! Even though I will never be a writer. (I am a better reader!) I know who to send prospective writers to for advice!

Terri said...

As a hopeful writer, I appreciate the candor!You are a true example of perseverance! So glad you kept at it...LOVE the Ghost Duster series!

Wendy Roberts said...

Wendy, I am eternally grateful that you are so supportive :)

Terri, perseverance can often be confused with stupidity so I'm glad you think I persevered! ha ha.

Wendy Norris Roberts said...

Well Wendy, you know I picked up the book because of the name (tee hee!!) but got totally hooked once I read it! It is easy to support great writers!

Wendy Roberts said...

Wendy, we both know that world domination is just a few more Wendy Roberts away ;)

Wendy Norris Roberts said...

Just keep writing great books and giving out such sage advice and it will happen sooner than you think! The Wendy Roberts' of the world will flock to us and then no one will stand in our way! (Cue the evil laugh!) Gee do you think I am getting carried away? Anyway, your fans are looking forward to your current project as well as your future works. But no pressure! LOL

Leslie Jensen said...

Thanks for sharing your story and offering encouragement to other writers! I read a ton of books and yours definitely stand out above the others. As I've stated in others posts, I'm so glad you got your due and have an opportunity to continue your Ghost Dusters series. Hopefully, we'll get some other books as well since I absolutely loved Dating Can Be Deadly! You and your family take care and please keep us posted!

DonaldMaass said...

Ah, so that explains it! I wondered at the time of the t-shirt auction why things took such a malicious turn--all for a good cause, of course.

(Oddly, Bob Dugoni has not spoken to me since. Was it something I said as I removed his t-shirt in front of hundreds of screaming people?)

Wendy Roberts said...

Donald you were a fabulously good sport about the whole thing. Perhaps later this year we can convince Bob to do it again if we promise to choose your beautiful wife to do the honors instead ha ha

Laura Hamby said...

Turtle shit, huh? *Looks over at the tortoise habitat and resolves that my #2 son shall be in charge of the de-shit-a-fying of the thing...

Wasn't boring, Wendy. You made me laugh. And now, I must clean Velveeta Shells and Cheese from my monitor. *Embarrassed smile.*

Tori Scott said...

Wish I'd been there to see Donald removing that T-shirt! Kathryn Lye was the editor who almost bought Double Exposure. Loved working with her and Tanya.

That road to publishing can sure be convoluted. :)

Angie the Hippo said...

You bring hope and laughter and turtle shit to us all, and it is greatly appreciated.
Dating Can Be Deadly was also much appreciated, even though was so scary in parts that I *may* have slept with the lights on...

Wendy Roberts said...

Leslie, thanks for your comment!

Laura, sorry about the turtle shell mess lol

Tori, it's a twisting and twisted road for sure!

Angie, I hope I can scare you again in the future :D

Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) said...

I came over here via The Bloggess, but I've been at the same writing conference for 3 years. I got my agent there October 2011!

And I remember the t-shirt incident clearly. Your story is inspiring.


Wendy Roberts said...

Hi Leanne (co-bloggess fan), glad to "see" you here! If you're back at SIWC in October, come say hi