I wanted to let you all know that I had some huge news a few weeks ago. I got THE CALL!!
For those of you who don’t know, THE CALL is when a writer like me, who’s been working on my writing for many years and has been submitting to agents and publishers (as well as self-publishing), finally gets notified in some way, either through an editor or the writers’ agent, that they’ve sold their first manuscript to a publisher. This is definitely a Squee!-worthy moment. 😀
In the writing world, we call the events surrounding this—THE CALL STORY—and I finally have mine!!
As some of you may know, Sourcebooks has a program on Wattpad where you can tag your manuscript submit2sourcebooks and it goes directly to an editor. It almost feels like a secret back door into the Sourcebooks clubhouse because not many people know about it, and it doesn’t feel like you’re going through “official channels”. You don’t have to write and submit a query letter, blurb, synopsis, or partial manuscript, and there aren’t any e-forms to fill out—nothing. If your manuscript is complete and already on Wattpad, all it takes is about thirty seconds to tag it correctly.
I had a pretty quick response from Sourcebooks saying my book, The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod, a historical romance set in the Highlands, was under review and they’d get back to me in 2 – 3 weeks, which is REALLY fast in publishing terms. In the end, it took longer than three weeks, but I thought that was probably good news because maybe the manuscript had been kicked up the ladder.
I don’t know exactly how long it took the editor, Cat Clyne, to get back to me because honestly, I…um…forgot about it. I was a Golden Heart finalist at the time, and I was super busy with that, plus I’d self-published two short contemporary romances called The Fabrizio Bride, and its sequel The D’amici Mistake, and I had recently done a MAJOR revision on the beginning of The Fabrizio Bride despite the fact that it had already been published for a while (yay for self-publishing!).
So when I received Cat’s enthusiastic message on Wattpad about my manuscript, I was thrilled! Unfortunately all I could read was the first few lines of the message on my phone and my laptop was dead—yup, that happened—and I had to run out the door to get my kids to preschool, so I couldn’t even wait for the laptop to power up. DOH!
Needless to say, I now have apps on my phone for most of my social media and email. 😛
After rushing back home, I finished reading Cat’s lovely email, in which she praised my book and the series potential/hook (five foster brothers), sent me her direct email and asked me for more information on the series and myself, plus the full manuscript. I didn’t have time to do all that right away, so I just sent a note saying I was interested and would send the material ASAP. She got back to me asking to meet for coffee at RWA’s National conference, which I was attending in a few weeks for the Golden Heart awards.
Slow lizard blink, um…YES!
I sent her the material she’d requested plus a note about the revisions I had planned for the book. Unfortunately, it was now the weekend, and I had to wait. But by the time I woke up Monday morning (west coast time), Cat had responded with another email, calling my book ‘Highlander catnip’ and asking if I wanted to set up a phone meeting to go over my planned revisions.
This is when the clouds opened up, sunlight poured down, and the Heavens sang.
I’d been close to a sale several times with my writing in the 27 years since I wrote my first romance. I’d been agented twice for both novels and screenplays, I’d won or placed in several big writing contests, even winning $1000 in one contest, I’d worked with editors, agents, and producers on several different projects, and I’d been paid to revise other people’s work, but this—a revision meeting with an editor at a good publishing house on a manuscript/series I’d started almost ten years ago that was so near and dear to my heart—felt different. I thought, maybe I could finish the revisions in time for Nationals, and Cat would offer for my book after that.
I prepared for my phone meeting by writing up a revision plan and sending it to Cat ahead of time, arranging for my kids to be out of the house, and telling my fellow Golden Heart nominees about my progress—to resounding cheers and support! One nominee in particular (waving at Diane!) said maybe Cat would offer on the book during the phone call—she wouldn’t go to all the trouble if she wasn’t really keen.
I laughed, thinking wouldn’t that be nice, but then totally dismissed it. I was having a revision meeting. I’d impress my potential editor with my professionalism and insight, and I’d show her I could take notes and work with someone else to make a better book.
The day came, the kids vacated the house, I printed off multiple copies of my notes, got a fresh notepad, and tested several different pens to take notes with during the call—and I spread them all out perfectly on my dining room table. Being a theatre grad, I even did a few voice warm-up exercises, so I’d speak more clearly.
The phone rang, and all that was promptly forgotten as I chatted with Cat (who may be the nicest person in the world!). When it came to talking about the revisions, I did most of the talking until she said something along the lines of: Actually, I’m prepared to offer on all five books in the series. I stopped talking. I no longer had any words in my head.
I couldn’t have been more shocked. And I was excited, yes, but really just so damn stunned. Then I tried to be all cool (’cause selling your first book happens every day) and not emotionally vomit all over my new editor. Oooh, and didn’t that sound amazing—MY EDITOR!!
Yup, here came the emotional vomiting, although by then I think we’d finished the call and hung up. Now there was fist pumping and spasmodic happy dancing—and no one to share it with. I called my husband and got his voice mail, my dad was out of town, the kids were gone. Thank goodness my writing bestie picked up or I may have imploded. I HAVE A FIVE BOOK DEAL FROM SOUCEBOOKS!!
I talked to her for almost an hour, walking around my house because I couldn’t sit still, mind reeling, occasional spurts of tears. Finally my hubby called, the kids came home. I emailed my dad, Skyped overseas friends, and announced to fellow Golden Heart nominees and my local writing chapter that I’d SOLD!
Still, it didn’t seem real. It seemed more real when I got my agent Kevan Lyon, met with Cat at the RWA National convention, went to the Sourcebooks’ author dinner, and had to give my agent due dates for the rest of the books, including the due date for the first book, which I was still revising.
But you know when it became really real? One week ago when I hit send at 5:30 in the morning and sent Cat my first book.
Yup. Shite just got real (it is a Scottish historical, what did you expect?). Now onto book two. 😀
The Sons of Gregor MacLeod—a five book Highlander historical romance series, coming out the Fall of 2017 by Alyson McLayne.