I wouldn't make this post if I wasn't sure there was someone out there that was curious about the whole publishing deal and its process. Why am I sure? Because I used to be a pro at searching for and reading (and occasionally taking notes) 'how I became a published author' stories. I know that romantic and, at times, almost helpless feeling of being rooted in the land of WIPs and unpublished stories.
So, for the random aspiring author who is curious about what I did to land a publishing deal (and then how the dominoes fell afterwards) this post is for you.
In which I entered a contest - So You Think You Can Write
I would never have known about SYTYCW if it wasn't for my friend Jolene from Pen & Muse. She brought it to my attention two days after it had started and I thought, "Why not?"
The contest (which is held every year) is a wonderful way for Harlequin and Mills & Boon to find new authors. You pick a category to write for and submit your first chapter and a 100-word pitch. From there you hope and hope that readers/loved ones will like your chapter and pitch (that is now on the SYTYCW website) and show social media and comment love. Then, if you pass this round, your story makes it into the Top 50 where an editor will be assigned to your completed manuscript. These editors will pick the Top 10 finalists. Then, it's up to the public to read each of the ten manuscripts and pick a winner and second and third runner up. (For more detailed info. on the contest, including dates to enter for this year, check out their FAQs.)
Pretty cool, right?
I entered under the Intrigue category because, quite simply, it's the one I love most. (The first book I ever read cover to cover in one sitting was an Intrigue years and years ago! Plus, suspense and murder and romance and sexual tension? Done times four!) I was overwhelmed and completely touched by how many wonderful people showed their support and love for me and my story that I titled, UNDONE. Their support helped me get into the Top 50! Not to mention, the community of #SYTYCW on Twitter was amazing!
But, as awesome as it was to place in the Top 50, I ran into the problem of having to rework my plot (originally it just did not work for me) which automatically caused me to trash half of the book right before the entire manuscript was due. So I worked like mad for two weeks and turned UNDONE in five minutes before it was due! It didn't meet the word count requirement so I knew my run was over, but I turned it in nonetheless.
The Top 10 was announced and I wasn't a part of the list. My UNDONE sat untouched as I sulked (gracefully, of course).
In which I read an awesome email - November 12, 2013
Harlequin Intrigue Editor Allison Lyons emailed me and asked for a beefed up UNDONE manuscript! One that met the word count! She said she liked it but needed it to meet the required count before we could do any more!
In which I was DONE with UNDONE - December 13, 2013
After a month of re-reading, re-writing, and creating new scenes, I turned in my new finished manuscript! And, boy, was I happy with it!
In which I lost my mind after receiving a certain call - May 9, 2014
Between my turning in Undone and this wonderful day, I had talked back and forth with Allison so I had a good feeling that it was a real possibility I would get a deal. However, I was still surprised and ecstatic when she called and officially said Harlequin wanted to purchase my book! What's more, Allison talked with me for almost an hour which made me even more excited for the opportunity! She also had a few revisions she wanted me to make so as soon as we were off of the phone I already had my Word doc up! Oh, but only after I blew up all of my social media sites!
In which it became very, very real - May 26, 2014
This was the day that I received my official contract. Lots of happy dancing and nervous giggling!
During this process and certainly after these dates, I have been lucky enough to befriend other Intrigue authors (as well as other wonderful writers) who have been nothing but kind and helpful. I've always wanted to be a published author and am finding that I couldn't be a part of a better writing family!
UNDONE (though the title will change) is set to release April 2015 and I am STOKED!
So, my advice to those out there that are trying to be published: enter contests and never give up!