Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Countdown: 7: Securing a Contract

I submitted my novel Perilous on June 16, 2009, to five different publishing companies. On June 25, nine days after submission, I got an email from WiDo Publishing's acquisition editor. The email said that my novel was under review and WiDo wanted to know if there was a sequel, since the story didn't conclude.

That was by far the quickest response I had ever gotten! I got all excited, too, because it looked like someone was interested enough to inquire about a sequel. (I mean, if you didn't like the first one, would you care about a sequel?)

Of course I responded right away, letting her know about my outlined sequel. Then I sat on pins and needles, waiting.

Five days later, on June 30, I got this email:

Your submission... is currently under review, but before a final decision is made, the marketing team has a couple questions for you.

They are wondering if you have any ideas of how you would like to promote your book, and what kind of network you could establish to get the word out prior to publication? We notice you live in Arkansas, is there a local bookstore you're familiar with that would be willing to promote a local author, perhaps host a launch party? Do you have any media contacts where you could get articles and/or book reviews? Do you have an author blog? Are you part of a writer's group, or book club, where you could speak and create a buzz before or after publication?

I was prepared for this question. Several people had told me that this is important for a publishing company to know, especially a small press that must make a huge investment in you. So I cracked my fingers and fired back an email about my marketing plans. Then I hopped online and bit the bullet: I started a blog. This blog! And oh, wow, I know so much more about marketing now than I did then!

And of course I told my critique group, who cheered and gave me virtual high fives and pumped me up by saying this was a very encouraging question. I felt it. I felt encouraged. And I checked my email every two minutes.

About a week later, on July 6, I received another email. This one said:

We are very impressed with your submission. Several editors have reviewed it and all had a positive response. Our major concern with it is that the demographic it's apparently written for-- LDS adolescent and teen girls-- are generally scared to death of being kidnapped, murdered and/or raped; and here in this book it all happens.

One editor's suggestion was to bring in the opening cop characters more, to intertwine their investigation into the story, and thus make it more of an... adventure/thriller, in order to broaden the demographic. The four girls would still be the main characters and focus, but a team of investigators as introduced in your prologue would also be developed and followed in the background. Is this something you could consider doing?

Overall, your story is incredible, fast-paced and a really, really good read. Your plot development is excellent, and the characters are also well-developed and likeable, except for the villains, who are incredibly frightening. Again, this would make a highly marketable book as long as it could be broadened to an adult demographic. There still might be plenty of teenagers who would read it and enjoy it.

In conclusion, WiDo would like to offer you a contract and work with you on the editing, as long as you are willing to revise so that it could be marketed to a broader demographic. The suggestion about the investigators is merely that, and you may have other ideas of how to make your story more "adult friendly."

If you are agreeable to this offer, please respond by return email and a contract will be on its way.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Um, yeah? Wow, yes! Of course I said yes. Thus my novel went from being a YA coming-of-age novel to a YA thriller/suspense novel. And it's been quite a journey, but it's so fulfilling to find someone who believes in you, someone who backs you up and is willing to see you through to the end of that dream.


Kate said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's always nice to "see" how publishers interact with prospective authors. I learn so much.

M. Gray said...

What a huge compliment--to know you've created terrifying villains. :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Thanks, Kate. I think it's fun. I love reading other author's experiences.

And Allie was *so* nice and so complimentary. She really gave me an ego boost!

We'll see, Mary!

KarenG said...

This was fun to read these emails back and forth. I can imagine how thrilled you were!

sarahjayne smythe said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that something this good could happen and it gives me hope.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

oh Karen, if you could only imagine! I was going crazy!

Sarahjayne, it can! It happened to me! Just don't ever give up!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! How exciting! Thanks for sharing your journey.


Tamara Hart Heiner said...

thank you, Ibdiamond!

SB said...

It's really been so fun reading your process to becoming an author - maybe one day I will have the same fun!

not too serious i hope

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - what an exciting tale! Awesome. So exciting to have someone so interested to invest such time and effort into your work. Congratulations :)

Leslee said...

I would like to hear what some of your marketing idea's were. I find it fascinating to talk to different authors about this and see what they have either suggested or done.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

SB, you will. Just decide what course you want to take and don't deviate from it!

Thanks for coming by, Jemi! It is so validating to have someone 'professional' tell me my book is good! it changes my whole outlook as I write!

Good idea, Leslee. I'm always looking for more marketing ideas. I have a meeting next month with the marketing people from WiDo. I'll post some of the ideas we come up with then!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Congrats! What fun. Did the changes make you feel better about the story, or do you feel that you gave up a piece of your original vision?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Hi Mary! I definitely gave up a piece of the original vision. But I like the changes. I think it makes the novel better. Plus, I'll find a way to use the other parts in subsequent novels!

Kim said...

Very cool, and thanks for sharing about the process. It's fascinating to see how it's all unfolding for you.

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