Two years ago, I took the plunge. I spent nine months writing my first book, a paranormal romantic suspense novel called Mind Waves. Whenever I thought about quitting, I reminded myself that I also want to quit running but that doesn’t mean I should. There are huge payoffs when I exercise regularly and the same is true of my writing. Without steady writing, I can’t finish the book, and I certainly can’t improve. Without steady exercise, my overall health suffers, and I gain weight.
My waistline and I are both happy to report that we kept running and writing. By April 2015, I had written an entire manuscript. I can still remember the utter joy and astonishment I felt when the last words hit the page. It mirrored the moment I saw each of my three babies for the first time in childbirth. Although nothing can match that excitement, finishing my book was a close second.
In fact, as I wrote in this post back in May, in many ways writing a novel is like birthing a child: you carry the story around with you for nine months, while you painstakingly nurture it, and then before you know it, the big day arrives, and you are showing your baby off to your friends and family.
A Slew of Rejection
What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the first year of my manuscript’s life. Although I had heard all about the pitfalls of rejection, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get the attention of an agent or editor in such a crowded marketplace. Since the advent of self-publishing, the number of books hitting the world has swelled from 600,000 a year to some 3.3 million. In fact, I read somewhere that every five seconds a new book is posted to Amazon.
Saying there are a large number of query letters landing in agent and editor inboxes at any one time is an understatement. Although I don’t know the exact number of aspiring writers submitting manuscripts, I can tell you there are so many, that it takes months to get a response (if you even get a response) to your query. And most of the time, these responses are cold, impersonal rejection notices.
“Thank you but your book is not quite right for our list,” or “While an interesting premise, I’ll have to pass.”
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I got a lucky break in May 2015, when I joined the Northeast Ohio Romance Writer’s Association (NEORWA) and learned that their annual conference would be held at the end of the month. I signed up and managed to pitch one agent and two editors, all of whom asked for my manuscript. One of those, Ms. Laura Kelly with the Wild Rose Press, took the time to provide me with specific feedback. While she didn’t feel my manuscript was up to Wild Rose Press’s standards, she did provide suggestions for improvement and the titles of a few books on self-editing.
I took her suggestions to heart. bought the books and read them. I’ve never been much of a “book-learner,” though, preferring to learn by doing. So I continued to seek critiques and tweak my manuscript, while jumping back into the fray of pitching and querying.
Contests Generate Feedback…and Wins!
I started entering contests and kept this up throughout the year. Right off the bat, I was runner-up in the Music City Writer’s Pitch Contest, so I knew then my storyline had merit. More importantly, I found contests to be the best source for gaining professional feedback from other writers.
By August 2015, I had been awarded second place in the paranormal category in the 2015 Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Ignite the Flame Contest and had rewritten the story painstakingly several times. I felt it was improved enough to resubmit to Laura Kelly. Shortly after Thanksgiving, she let me know she liked the story but felt certain plot changes would need to be made. If I was willing to make the changes, she said, she would look at the story again.
I felt her suggestions were sound, so it was back to revising. I spent the next two months reconstructing the plot. During this time, I also joined a critique group. The willingness of other members to provide constructive feedback was invaluable.
In January, I resubmitted the revised version. Laura Kelly responded immediately to tell me she would review and be back in touch by May.
Meanwhile, I learned the story received a bronze medal in The 2015 Rudy Writing Contest. For kicks in February, I decided to participate in a Twitter pitch contest, where publishers could favor pitches they liked. My pitch was favored by seven publishers, who after reading the initial chapters, all asked for the full manuscript. Five of these publishers eventually offered contracts, putting me in a quandary–should I accept one of the offers or should I hold out for the editor I wanted, Laura Kelly?
After some internal debate, a flurry of emails and some googling, I decided to notify Laura Kelly about one of the contract offers, asking if she had had a chance to review the manuscript. She had not, but requested a week to take a look.
Before the week was up, she emailed to let me know she liked what she had read. Although only half way through, she was sending it out to a preliminary reader. Within a few days, I received a notice that it had passed the preliminary reader and was being forwarded to the senior editor for final approval.
Another week passed, while I tried not to worry about the outcome. Meanwhile, Laura Kelly wrote to tell me to relax over the weekend as I probably wouldn’t get a response until the following week. Easier said than done, but I made dinner plans with some old friends and managed to forget about it for a moment or two. Of course, it was while sitting in the restaurant that I received the email from the senior editor, Ms. Amanda Barnett. Her email titled, “Contract for Mind Waves,” was enough to make me gasp and nearly fall off my chair. Instead, I did the next best thing and ordered dessert.
It’s a Wrap
I didn’t spend a long time reviewing the contract before signing. The Wild Rose Press has a certain reputation as an author-friendly outfit. They’ve been listed by the well-respected Preditors & Editors (P&E) website as “Best Book Publisher” seven years in row. Laura Kelly herself was voted the number one book editor at P & E three years in a row.
It has been long road to publication, but I am thrilled to be entering the final leg of the journey.
Now, it’s time to think about planning a book launch party (or parties!). Although I’m still working out the details, one thing’s for certain–you’re all invited!#Am Writing How I Got an Editor to Say 'Yes' to My Manuscript via @AuAuthor Click To Tweet