First, I want to thank Pam for being a part of the Cinder Blog Tour and inviting me to be a guest on her blog on a most important day. Her birthday!
So—Happy Birthday, Pam! Here is a special Cinderella cake for you:
On this tour stop, I’m going to talk about my path from aspiring-writer to writer-with-a-book-deal, but this post comes with a warning. It’s, er, kind of one of those stories that’s jaw-droppingly surreal and not unlike Cinderella’s fairy godmother waving her wand and making all my dreams come true overnight.
Yes—I’m one of those authors.
I started writing Cinder on November 1, 2008, and finished the first draft—70,000 words—in about two weeks. During the next two years, I would alternate between revising and editing Cinder, writing the drafts of Books 2 and 3 of The Lunar Chronicles (I had the series fairly well outlined from the start), and also finishing up a few fanfics, as I’d been writing Sailor Moon fanfiction for ages and didn’t want to leave any stories unfinished.
Then, on August 16, 2010, I determined it was finally time. The book was as good as I could make it, I had a plan for the rest of the series, and there was nothing I could do to make myself any more appealing to agents. I had to start querying.
I should point out that I have a Master’s degree in publishing and I’d been reading writer blogs and magazines for years and years, so I was well aware that this can be a slow, agonizing process. I psyched myself up with tales of authors who had pasted a hundred rejection slips on their walls, only to go on to be huge bestsellers. I gave myself plenty of pep-talks. Cinder was my first novel and while I was as hopeful as any author could be, I was also aware that many first novels never sell, and I already had ideas simmering in my imagination in case I needed to shelve The Lunar Chronicles and move on to another project.
Well. Two months later, I had three offers of representation and ended up signing with Jill Grinberg, the very first agent I’d queried—my Number One Dream Agent. Pinch me now.
I shrieked, I danced, I drank my “get an agent” champagne. Then I tempered my delirium and got back to work.
It was important to me from the start that we try to sell all four books, because I had a thorough plan of how I saw each book playing out. We decided to go on submission not only with the manuscript for Cinder, but also summaries for the rest of the series and the first fifty pages of Book 2: Scarlet. I spent two weeks getting that all prepared, along with preparing an author bio and having publicity photos taken.
My agent went on submission to publishers on Friday, October 29.
We had our first offer the following Monday, November 1—on the two-year anniversary from the day I’d started writing Cinder.
About a week later, the series went to auction between two publishing houses and we accepted the offer from Macmillan’s Feiwel & Friends on November 11. Less than three months after I’d sent my first query, I was enjoying my “get a book deal” champagne.
It was a blur and a dream and completely unexpected. Even now, thirteen months later, with a finished book and plane tickets in hand for my first book tour, it still hasn’t begun to feel entirely real. I sometimes wonder if it ever will.
* Dire Straits