May 17, 2013

From Draft to Book Deal

First, the contest is over and all winners will be contacted. Thank you so much for entering and for all the kind words and congratulations ♥

Okay, so here's where I promised more info about the road to yes.

Warning: TL;DR (too long; didn't read) ahead!

While I'm so happy I can finally talk about how I'm going to be published (OMG!!!), keep in mind that even though I'm focusing on the successes, they came right alongside a lot of rejection.

Like... a lot. (I have a 'rejections' folder in my email where I keep them all... I'm afraid to look in it)

And of course, in typical Lori fashion, this story will be illustrated by my gif friends.

I started GATES OF THREAD AND STONE (then called Harbinger) July of 2011 while I was querying a different manuscript, which some of you might recall from a past cover design contest. It took four weeks to write the first draft of GATES and three months of editing before I felt it was querying-ready. This was not typical. My previous ms took me half a year to write the first draft and then another year for revisions and rewrites.

Anyway, midway into editing GATES, I received an email from Super Agent Suzie Townsend. She had requested SOUL a month prior. She finished the manuscript and really liked it!

But she ultimately had to pass, and she included two pages of editorial notes. Color me shocked! And HUGELY appreciative. I mean, querying writers are lucky if they get a sentence of explanation on rejections, but Suzie went above and beyond and gave me a whole editorial letter! I immediately stopped querying SOUL and set it aside for yet more revisions. This didn't bother me in the least because I was loving GATES and couldn't wait to finish it.

A month later, I won by random drawing a first chapter critique from an author I admired. She liked my chapter so much that she forwarded it to her agent (you guessed it, Super Agent Suzie Townsend), who loved it (and remembered SOUL!) and invited me to submit as soon as I finished editing. See why I'm convinced Suzie and I were meant to work together? :)

Fast forward another month, and I was done editing. I tested the waters first with a few agent-judged contests and live pitch opportunities, all of which either earned me a request or I won. I was pretty floored. I even got this snazzy certificate (I'm not actually from the SF area but the contest was open to everyone):
Anyway, I found myself with 10 agent requests (2 from referrals) and 1 editor request before I'd even started querying. I was excited, but also terrified because if I failed now? It would mean my writing just didn't cut it.

So I sent in all requested materials and began querying in earnest. I sent my query-with-referral to Suzie on a Friday night at 11:45 pm (b/c when I'm tired is when I'm feeling bravest).

Thirty minutes later, she responded with: "YES PLEASE SEND!!!! Right now! :) :)"

I was over the moon. Fast forward four weeks. By now, I had enough rejections and requests to send me on a constant roller coaster of up and down.

Then I got a sheepish and apologetic email from Suzie saying she'd responded within days to receiving my manuscript and wondered why I hadn't replied. She checked her email and found it never sent. But she still wanted to talk! YAY! *cue freak out*

We set up a phone call, during which I was too anxious and wired to remember to say ANY of the things I'd planned to. When she asked what else I was working on, even though I had it written down right in front of me, I blanked and went, "Um... this book about... a girl who has a monster in her... and this boy... who captures her."

And then because I could unfortunately HEAR myself, I added, "Wow, that sounds terrible."

Suzie was kind enough to laugh and take it in stride, and despite my bumbling, she STILL offered me rep. Whew!

Then I hung up and ran around the house at least twice.

And emailed/called my CPs. And contacted all the other agents with my manuscript, and even some agents who only had my query (many of whom promptly requested the manuscript). I ended up with more offers of rep, in addition to several agents who passed but asked me to get in touch immediately should I ever find myself NOT agented. Wow.

(happy tears)

So then I had a decision to make. But considering everything that happened during my querying journey, it just didn't feel right to go with anyone but Suzie. Her revisions for the book convinced me it would be the best book possible, that my writing would be the best possible, under her guidance. So I accepted her offer, and it was off to the revision races.

Being on submission was crazy. Over the course of nine months, I made one minor revision and then one major revision, received a lot of rejections and several editor-loves-it-but-couldn't-get-enough-support-to-make-an-offer close calls (the first of which made me ugly cry, but we won't talk about that). But then, suddenly we had an offer. YAY! And then another editor offered! YAYx2! I spoke with Robin Benjamin from Amazon Children's Publishing on the phone, and she was absolutely lovely and so enthusiastic. And 2 weeks later, I officially accepted. YAYx3!!!

ALL THE EMOTIONS while on submission:

There were times I honestly didn't think I'd make it here. But I'm so insanely grateful to my agent for believing in this book, and to my CPs, Mindee and Lauren and Anna, who kept telling me I could do it even when I wasn't so sure myself. And I'll stop here because I'll save the thanks for the Acknowledgments. (OMG I'M GOING TO HAVE AN ACKNOWLEDGMENTS!!!)

YAY! ♥


Eliza Tilton said...

Grats again!! Love how things worked out for you.

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing your process with us! Super exciting for you. :)

Bluestocking said...

Sooo happy for you! And yes you'll get acknowledgements! And so much more!!!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Wow! What a roller coaster! I agree that Suzie is great to work with. So glad you two (well, three if we're counting the book as a separate entity, and we are) connected and matched so well. And congrats again on the sale!

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

Congratulations Lori. It sounds like you and Suzie were destined to link up and enter the publishing world together (just as you've said).

BTW, I love your gifs. They are very cute.

Cat York said...

Congratulations, Lori! I love this story and all the bunnies that go with it. said...

Congrats! Sometimes it seems things are just meant to work out a certain way.

Also, you should consider putting bunnies in your book. Little animated ones. Just a thought.

Pili said...

YAY! Big congrats!

And it might have been a long post, but I didn't notice cause I love all the super cute gifs in there! =D

Marieke said...

I love everything about this post. :D You're awesome, can't wait to read GATES! :D

Christina Farley said...

Love this story! And I CAN NOT WAIT to read GATES!!!!!!! <3

Natalie Aguirre said...

Loved hearing how this all happened, Lori. I'd love to interview you when your book comes out. E-mail me.

Girl Friday said...

So, so thrilled for you, great story, congrats Lori!!

Meradeth Houston said...

Super stoked for you! (And totally love the gif's!) said...

Loved reading this! I got chills! Congrats! And your blog is so cute/funny!

Precy Larkins said...

WOOT! WOOT! So happy for you, Lori! Congrats!

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