Monday, May 28, 2012

Getting the Call: T.W. Fendley

More proof that there are plenty of ways to achieve success for writers. T.W. Findley has agreed to share her journey through the publishing world. Here’s  a case where meeting the right people at a writer’s conference can make your dreams come true.  Teresa’s  novel, Zero Time, is at the top of my to be read list.

This month is a perfect time for me to talk about getting "The Call" because in April 2010, I met Linda Houle, one of the publishers from L&L Dreamspell, at the Missouri Writers Guild (MWG) conference. That's where things started going right for me.

It was my first pitch session and I was plenty nervous. But instead of doing a five-minute pitch to just one agent, when I arrived that morning I learned I could pitch to all three of my top choices--two agents and a small press publisher. Fortunately, I'd done my homework. I knew why my book was a good fit for each of them and had practiced (and practiced!) my elevator pitch in front of the bathroom mirror. 

I was hopeful, but afraid to be too optimistic. I'd been there before. You see, I sent off my first query letter for ZERO TIME on Sept. 12, 2008, and immediately got a request for a partial. Elated, I submitted my chapters, now certain I would easily land an agent and a book deal. That didn't happen. I revised my query letter a few times over the next eighteen months and used QueryTracker to target and submit it to thirteen more agents. And to track the rejections.

Then came the MWG conference, and a chance to deliver my query in person. All requested a partial, ending the long dry spell. Then something unprecedented happened--within a month, one agent and the small press asked for a full manuscript!   

"The Call" came 26 days after I emailed the full manuscript to the small press. On May 31, 2010, Lisa Smith--the other "L" in L&L Dreamspell--sent me an email that said simply: "Teresa,  I am interested in offering you a contract for ZERO TIME. I'd like to see your marketing plan, and we will go from there! Thanks."

My first reaction? After I quit shrieking, I emailed my critique buddies. They'd been with me through two revisions of the book. Together we did a virtual happy dance. Later, my husband and I toasted margaritas at our local Mexican restaurant.

I went to work drafting a marketing plan after I read my publisher's book, The Naked Truth About Book Publishing, and checked out some online resources. On June 2, Lisa accepted my plan and offered a contract for both print and ebook formats.

In the meantime, I also emailed the agent who requested the full to let her know of the small press offer. Although she loved the premise, she decided to pass. I reviewed the contract and on June 7, 2010, mailed the signed copies. My debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was published in October 2011-- three years after I sent my first query letter. With its connection to the end of the Maya Long Count calendar, I wanted the book out before December 2012. I'm grateful to L&L Dreamspell for making it happen.

After that experience, I've been reluctant to get back into the query game. For my next novel, I'm going to pitch first. That's why I was at the 2012 MWG conference last weekend, pitching my young adult contemporary fantasy, THE LABYRINTH OF TIME. And I got a request from a super agent for the full manuscript!  

If you're interested in ZERO TIME, it's available in paperback or ebook through Amazon and Barnes & Noble (or ask your local librarian to carry it). I'm excited to report it earned a Walter Williams Major Work Award in the 2012 President's Contest at the MWG conference! 

You can find me at: 
Authors website:

1 comment:

  1. What a great story - pitching in person is hard, but if you manage to get through it, it can be the most effective way to get in front of agents and publishers! Congrats on perservering and refusing to give up!