I thought the most fitting way to start off this blog on my spanking new website is to write THE post. You know, the one all authors dream of writing while they’re languishing in the querying trenches, trying to keep their hopes of publication alive.
That’s right, the How I got My Book Deal post.
Let us begin.
My journey started back in 2011 when I decided I was going to write a novel. I began gathering my thoughts to write a story about a burn survivor, inspired largely by the experience of a friend’s adopted brother. But while I was prepping to write that book, another idea about genetics with a sci-fi twist popped into my head and seduced me away. And since the burn survivor book was kind of going nowhere at the moment, I jumped ship and starting writing this new idea.
And a short four years later, I wrote THE END.
Why did it take so long, you ask? Great question. Well, basically I realized very quickly that I knew nothing about writing a novel. Why did I think I could do this? Who did I think I was? I have been a journalist for my adult life and so words have always been my craft. But writing a novel, I learned, was so much more than that. Pacing and plotting and character arcs and tension and … you get it.
So I went to conferences. I learned what a plot was! (in case you didn’t already know, it’s frowned upon to just have witty dialogue and cool characters without them, you know, actually doing anything). So after years of learning and revising and doubting, my novel was done! And it was decent. It won a prestigious national award. It earned me an agent. It was happening! All my author dreams were coming true!
Except it wasn’t that easy.
The book didn’t sell. After a year on submission, we were only getting rejections. Plus, I was beginning to feel that my agent wasn’t the right fit for me. She was lovely and smart and doing her job, but our ideas about submission were not in-sync.
And I had a new book that I loved and was even more excited about because I had taken the advice of fellow writers and instead of sitting around, eating obscene amounts of ice cream and fretting about being on submission, I threw myself into writing another book. Here is some actual footage of me trying to finish this novel with my trusty sidekick:
I loved this book. It was (surprise, surprise!) about a burn survivor. And this time, since I had spent four year learning how to write a book, this story came out easily. This book was ready in a year and a half, and I wanted it to get into the hands of an agent who would be on the same page with me and would love it just as much as I did.
So, I made the difficult decision to leave my current agent and find a better fit. This was NOT easy, my friends. I was terrified that I wouldn’t find another agent and that I had made a terrible mistake. My fear only grew as I went back into the query trenches and got a lot of requests for the manuscripts, but no offers.
Then, one day in late winter, I got an email. My dream agent wanted to have a phonecall with me. As you can imagine, I was totally calm and cool on our phonecall.
This agent told me she loved my book and 100 percent shared my vision for what it could bring to the YA market. A few more agents also put in their bids for representation. But the amazing Brianne Johnson of Writers House had already won me over. She understood my book. She understood me. I knew this book would be safe in her hands.
We went on submission within a week, and two days later, the book was going to multiple acquisitions meetings at publishers. On Monday morning, we had a two-book deal for a pre-empt by the incredible Wendy Loggia at Delacorte/Random House.
I cried. My husband cried. I immediately called Marius, the burn survivor and original inspiration for the book, and told him the good news. And honestly, I could hardly believe it. This was something I had worked on for so many years, often doubting why I was giving so much time and energy to something that may never see the light of day. I used to joke that I was a writer because I had “several important Word documents” on my computer.
And now, someone wanted to take those words and turn them into a book.
Since that day, a lot has happened. Amazing things like that SCARS LIKE WINGS will be out Oct. 1, 2019, and has also sold to publishers in 16 countries/languages (again, my agent is kind of a rockstar). I’ve met so many other authors who inspire me. I went to New York and met my agent in person and totally geeked out in front of the Writers House sign.
I was much more professional when I visited my editor at Random House. I swear.
There’s also been some difficult times. I’ve realized just how vast and crazy and intense the publishing industry is. I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome and sheer panic about the fact that other human beings will be reading this book! I’ve had to learn not to compare myself with what’s happening to other authors, and just keep my eyes on my own journey.
But at the end of the day, I always go back to my original goal. I wanted to write a story. A story that means something to me.
And now, as I send this first book into the world, I hope it means something to everyone who opens the cover and goes on this ride with me.