Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Submission Call with Holly Jennings

This is the best kind of story ever! And I think Mike, SC, and I are all begging for copies when Holly's book is released! (Hint, hint, I have a kindle or paperback would be fine.) Thank you Holly for giving us a little insight into what submission is like from an author's viewpoint.

Did anyone else see summer this year? I think I blinked when it whizzed by. In fact, the entire year soared past but it turned out to be one that would change my life.

In September 2013, I started writing a novel about a Chinese-American girl kicking butt and taking names inside a virtual reality tournament. In May 2014, I entered QueryKombat and by August I had an agent. We started submissions less than two weeks later.

If you think you check your email a lot when submitting to agents, trust me, it goes to a level never before known by mankind when editors come into the picture. I half expected the computer itself to pop up a message that said: STOP ALREADY. 

The cure? Work on another book. Focus on something different than the one on submission. While I recommend having a synopsis of a sequel or possible series ready in case the editor asks, it's also a good idea to have a separate book in progress in case your first doesn't sell. The submission process can be an agonizing process, maybe even more so than the hunt for an agent. Luckily for me, it didn't take long. I had a book deal by the end of September.

Things don't normally move this fast. This is a story of serendipity.

Somewhere at the crossroads of fairy dust and destiny (or more likely my agent's superpower skills), my sci-fi novel about video games and Chinese culture landed in the lap of an editor who (get this) loves science fiction, video games, and Chinese culture.


My agent called me at home on a Friday. Normally, I'm not at home on Fridays but I had this particularly Friday off (and he didn't even know that!) See the theme here? 

"We have interest from an editor at Ace." 

At least, I think that's what he said. There were angels singing, so he was a bit muffled. Almost all the genre books I read are published by Ace. They take up a good portion of my bookcase. In fact, they take up a good portion of my house. When I didn't think it could get any better, I found out the name of the editor, who edits -- wait for it...

My. Favorite. Series. Ever.

I got an email from the editor the following week saying she'd like to talk and was wondering if I'd be available during the day. Usually I work an 8-5 job, but serendipitously (see? SEE?), the following Monday was a Canadian holiday. She would be at work, and I'd be at home.
We had the call. Yes, after having the call with my agent, I had another with the editor. This was something unexpected for me, but I'm so glad it happened. Between gaming and ComicCon, we geeked it up on the phone for a good hour. When it came to possible edits, we were on the exact same page. In fact, some of the changes she mentioned were tweaks I'd already made myself and was going to discuss with her. She ended the call by saying how excited to work with me. No, no, no. It was the other way around, I assured her. She must have missed her morning coffee.

So, while edits and everything else that follows won't begin until next year and I'm currently deep at work on the sequel, I'm happy to say I've signed a two-book deal with Ace Books and will be working with Anne Sowards (editor of the Dresden Files - Squee!)

Again, big thanks to Michelle, Mike, and SC for hosting QueryKombat, which started me down this path. More thanks to the mentors, judges, and other contestants (because you guys just plain rock). And, of course, thanks to my uber agent Leon Husock for bringing in the deal and being awesome in general.


BIO: Holly Jennings is a member of SF Canada and writes from her home in Tecumseh, Ontario. Her debut novel Virtual Rebel is forthcoming from Ace Books early 2016. For more, check out her website or follow her as she attempts to understand Twitter @HollyN_Jennings. 

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