Monday, April 23, 2018

How I Got My Book Deal With Swoon Reads!

It's still hard to believe that I have a book deal! And that it's with a manuscript I wrote four years ago! Wow, that really puts things in perspective.

Way back in 2014, I started working on a book titled Fading. The idea had come to me in a dream (I know I know, insert Stephenie Meyer joke here. But I love her so don't judge). I quickly worked on a first draft and spent some time revising it before sending it to a CP (thanks, Molly!). You see, I wanted to enter Pitch Wars. I thought this story had potential and hoped it would make it into the contest. After some more revisions I entered Pitch Wars 2014. And I got in as an alternate. I couldn't believe my luck. I thought, maybe this was it. I was getting closer to my dream. With the help of my mentor (the incredibly insightful and talented Monica Bustamante Wagner) I strengthened my pitch, query letter, and first couple of chapters.

Right when I entered the contest I had started to query some agents. One of whom requested pages. After I got into Pitch Wars I let her know that I would be revising my manuscript and if she would like to look at the newest version once done, she said yes.

The showcase came and went, I got requests. Some of those requests turned to fulls, and then eventually I got more rejections, but that's how publishing works. It was a downer, but I wasn't ready to give up. There were still plenty of agents out there who might want to represent me. Then the agent who had been waiting for my revised manuscript emailed me. She loved the story, but thought it needed some more work. She gave me some notes and invited me to resubmit if I decided to implement those changes. I took her up on the offer of the R&R because I really liked her suggestions and felt that the changes would make my story much stronger.

After I was done with those revisions I sent it to more readers (thanks again Molly and Soni Wolf). Once again I revised and then sent it back to the agent and waited. Well, not exactly, I also decided to query more agents. Again, I got requests, partials and fulls, again I got rejections. C'est la vie. Fast forward a few months and the agent with the R&R got back to me, she again told me all the things she loved about the story, but ultimately passed. Yes, it was a bit devastating, but I'm nothing if not stubborn and giving up wasn't really an option. I thanked her for her time and asked if she had any advice to share. She very sweetly gave me a referral to another agent at a different agency. See, being nice and professional does pay off. Also, it was kind of an ego boost because if she thought my writing and story sucked she would never have given that referral. I thanked her and queried the agent she suggested, making sure to include that it was a referral. The agent immediately requested a full. I again waited. She passed. Sigh. I know, it was tough, but I understood her reasons and appreciated the time she took to look over my story.

This all happened in 2014-2016. At that point I had given birth to my fifth child, and we were in the middle of moving to a new house down the road from us. Lots of life had taken place. I also started working on my next project. I ended up putting aside Fading, figuring it had run its course and I needed to move on. Possibly for my own sanity.

At this time Katy Upperman, whom I interacted with through our blogs and Twitter, announced that she had a book deal with Swoon Read. I had never heard of Swoon Reads before and decided to check it out. I loved their model where readers got a say in what would be published. It's new, unique, smart, and successful. Katy wrote about her experience with them and encouraged others to submit their polished work. I thought it over. I asked my Pitch Wars '14 peeps about it, they are all incredibly talented, insightful, and encouraging group of writers and I trusted them. They said to go for it.

I chickened out.

The fear of rejection kept me in place . I thought, "It's not good enough. I need to focus on my current project and put this one aside." But for whatever reason, I couldn't quite forget my story about a boy and girl falling in love while fighting the demons of their past.

Let's fast forward again. It's summer 2017, my husband and I decided to do something completely insane and moved our family across the ocean to Hawaii. Maybe I was riding high on that wave of change and possibility, I'm not sure, but Swoon Reads opened up submissions and I thought "Why the hell not, I've got nothing to lose."

I went through Fading one more time, polishing it up a bit, changed the title to Chase the Night and *tried* uploading it onto the website. After about ten times it actually worked. In fact I had to contact Swoon's team because my manuscript would not upload and they had to help me figure out what was wrong. I did think that maybe that was a sign from the universe to not go through with it, but like I said, I'm stubborn and I refused to not follow through this time.

Then I waited (publishing is pretty much waiting, waiting, and waiting some more). Submissions closed. I got a few reviews, some adds, but it was mostly quiet. And I was okay with it. I remember feeling at peace with my decision. I remember thinking that I had given it my all, sought out all options, and it was time. Finally. To put Chase the Night aside. Yes, my heart broke a little, but I learned so much while writing that story and I would always cherish it for giving me that little glimpse of what could be if I stuck to the whole writing gig.

Now let's go to February 2018. Once again submissions had opened for Swoon. All of sudden my activity for CTN saw a huge rise as an influx of new hopeful authors and readers joined the website. I didn't think much of it, honestly. At one point a reader compared the story to Step Up, which I loved because that is my go to dance movie! (Let's take a moment of silence for the break up of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.) I rode the high of that review for a bit and then went back to writing my new manuscript.

The end of February approached fast. It was mid-morning Hawaii time. I just finished my workout and was sweating quite profusely thanks to the humidity, and my heart rate still rode the high of my cardio session. I decided to check my email before eating some breakfast. After scrolling down a bit one caught my eye. It was from a Swoon Reads editor. She wanted to talk to me about Chase the Night. My heart, which had started to calm itself, immediately picked up steam again. I stared at the email for a few minutes. Then I called my husband. He thought something terrible had happened because, according to him, I sounded like I was hyperventilating. He was ecstatic, both that a tragedy hadn't befallen our family, and that this could be IT. The moment I had been working towards for over a decade.

After hanging up with him I emailed back the editor. We set up a time to talk. I proceeded to freak out some more. The morning of the call was a bit surreal. My husband took part of the morning off so he could watch our toddler while I was on the phone. I honestly didn't believe them at first when they said they wanted to publish Chase the Night. I was completely overwhelmed and didn't talk as much as I wanted to because I was taking it all in. I'm truly so so so grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I'm grateful to every person that read any word of Chase the Night, to the Swoon Reads team, to the readers on the website who took the time to read and review it. I'm grateful for my family for putting up with me as I daze off into my own little worlds, creating new characters and stories. My favorite part of this whole thing was hearing and seeing and reading the reactions from various family members and friends when I shared the news.

My journey wasn't quick. It wasn't easy. Over ten years of writing took place before I got this deal. Chase the Night was my fourth novel. I have various projects at different stages that I've worked on  before, in between, and after I finished Chase the Night. And I still don't have an agent. Nothing about writing and publishing is perfect, nothing is concrete. I have book deal now, but I have no clue what the future holds. I'm enjoying the now, but also remaining realistic at the same time. But like I said before, I'm grateful, and I will continue to be grateful. If you stuck with this post from beginning to end, thank you! If you're still on this journey, unsure of what the future holds, afraid of continuing, I hope this gave you a glimmer of what could be. Please don't give up. If writing is your passion, your love, if you can't imagine a life where you're not writing, then please continue. I will cheer every single one of you on as you find your own path to your dreams.
**Edit** I TOTALLY forgot to mention that I also got into the Sun Vs. Snow contest with Fading and wanted to give a shout out to Amy Trueblood and Michelle Hauck who run the contest as well Rachel Simon who helped me polish my pitch, query letter, and pages.

6 comments:

  1. I've seen the hard work and effort you've put into each and every story! I'm so impressed that you never gave up!

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  2. I love this post so much! So glad you're stubborn and stuck with it!

    ReplyDelete