How I Got My Book Deals
It's official. This is the question I receive the most. Well, as long as we don't count the unsolicited "Will you please buy my book?" messages...and we definitely don't count those.
So to kick off my Writing Wednesday theme, I'm going to tell you straight up how I signed all three of my book deals. I don't believe in being coy or keeping knowledge hidden, and one of my goals for these posts is to be transparent with you and share whatever wisdom I have (however little it is) with you. I want to see your books out in the world! If I can help, I will.
Ready? Here we go.
Book deal #1: This is my my nonfiction memoir Shared Courage. It's the story of my life as the wife of a US Marine during the Iraq War. I signed a contract in 2006 and the book was published in 2007. This one is a non-traditional publishing story. I had written about half of the book when I got in touch with a journalist who had been embedded with my husband's unit. He had recently published a book about the experience and I reached out to him to ask if he had any advice for me.
He put me in touch with his publisher. As in, "Here's his personal email, tell him I sent you." Not realizing how rare this is, I sent off a frighteningly casual email with a pitch for my book. (In my defense, I knew nothing about publishing. Nothing. Zip.) The editor requested the manuscript so I sent him what I had. A few months later I got a contract and a five figure advance (that's five figures before the decimal point).
So even though I had never heard the words query, proposal, or submission, I ended up with a contract. Weird, right?
In the interest of honesty I will tell you that everything I didn't know about publishing when I signed that first contract, I quickly learned when I tried to sell my next book. Rejection and I became very close friends. Like BFF close. I was so discouraged I abandoned my book and started a semi-successful career as a freelance blogger and web content writer including some time as a Hollywood gossip blogger. (I'm pretty sure I owe a few celebrities some heartfelt apologies.)
Book deal #2: Mission Hollywood, a contemporary Christian romance novel. Eleven years later. You read that correctly. Eleven stinkin' years later, I had written two novels. Mission Hollywood was the second novel I finished. I wrote the first draft for National Novel Writing Month in November, 2017, then revised it, sent it to critique partners, revised it some more and eventually submitted it in a pitch party on Twitter.
Actually, I submitted it in three pitch parties.
Each time, I got interest from the pitches. So I put together my queries and sent them off. I ended up getting five full requests for the book and of those five I received two and half offers. Wait. What? What's half an offer? That was a publisher who was still interested in the book when I signed the contract but wasn't ready to make an offer before I needed to give the other publishers a decision. And there you go...second contract signed. Mission Hollywood is being released in July, 2019. Less than four months!!
Book deal #3: Light on Glass, a women's fiction novel. I wrote this novel before I wrote Mission Hollywood but I didn't sign a contract on it until four months later. So, yes, I was querying two books at the same time, yes, it was confusing and frustrating, and no, I do not recommend it. I tried everything with this book. Pitch parties, cold queries, you name it, I tried it. This book went through the wringer. One publisher was interested, but wanted me to gut the middle of the book, cut out an entire subplot and rewrite it. I considered those suggestions, but it would have meant losing one of the main reasons I wrote the book, so I declined.
Then at the beginning of 2018, I received an offer on the book from a small publisher. It looked like a great fit and I was ridiculously exited. But things fell apart when we couldn't agree on the terms of the contract so I withdrew the book. That was disappointing (devastating, depressing and I went through an entire box of chocolate) but proof that God had something better planned.
Which brings us to February, 2019. After a cold query in December, I received a full request in January and then an offer in February. Having been burned once, I was cautious. I did my research on the company, reached out to others I knew in the industry, got in touch with some of their writers, and did my prep work before The Phone Call. And it was a great phone call! I had found a publisher who loved the book as much as I did. I was ecstatic. Light on Glass is now scheduled to be released in December, 2019. Just in time for Christmas shopping! Hint, hint.
So there you have it, my twisty-turny road to publication. Each of my books found a home in a different way. To me, that proves there is no one right way to share your words with the world. There are many paths, many doors, many opportunities. The most important thing is to not give up. The path only ends when you stop walking.