Thursday, September 17, 2015

Getting the Submission Call with ME!

Everything is finally settled and today's my birthday, so it's the perfect day to put up this post!

Not all successes happen overnight. You really can't compare your journey to others. That's why I like to give a variety of interviews, so everyone gets an idea of the variables. Some paths to the end are smooth sailing and some are full of mile-high waves. My story is somewhere in the middle.

It took me four manuscripts before I landed an agent. My second book did sell to a small press, but I wanted to go bigger than that. I wanted the whole fairy tale with agent and big publisher, so I kept querying. With my fourth manuscript, I switched it up and wrote a humorous middle grade instead of my usual young adult fantasy. This book had started from a short story I wrote for a contest and was loaded with voice and personality. The query letter breezed out after only four revision. All my friends said this was THE ONE.

It was in that it got the attention of Sarah, and suddenly two years ago this August, I had an agent. Sarah thought my manuscript needed very little revision. My silly hamsters went on submission two weeks later in the first week of September 2013. I was excited to say the least to see the big names reading my manuscript. But months passed, and rejections came in, and we did other rounds of submission all to the same results. No editors asked for revisions or offered, though they thought it funny and had great voice.

I was a Pitchwars mentor last year and surrounded by eighty other mentor who all seemed to be having better luck than me. They had books for sale and big deals with big publishers. While I celebrated their success, all I had was silence or rejection. I felt very down on myself, even knowing many people don't sell their first book to go on submission.

I came to realize the fault was mine. I hadn't read many middle grade books at that point, and what I'd written hovered in between a middle grade and a chapter book. It was, for all purposes, unmarketable. By that time, a year had gone by, and I had nothing to show for it. My next book wasn't even finished yet because submission plays with your head. Sarah and I decided to end submission almost a year after we started. Knowing the MG story's problems were my doing made the empty feeling of failure much worse.

I had so much doubt, it was hard to concentrate on writing or really love the work in progress. It's hard to push yourself when you don't think it will do any good.

If you think querying is intense and hard, wait for submission. It's an out of control roller coaster on steroids. All you can do is wait and drive yourself crazy with wondering. It was a nightmare I was eager to revisit, however.

I finished my YA epic fantasy in November of 2014, sent it to my readers, and then off to Sarah. To my horror, she said it sounded more adult than young adult. Most of the characters were adult. The two main characters, who are teens, had a strong control on their emotions so the voice didn't feel YA. 

My agent doesn't represent adult works. I panicked.

But Sarah said not to worry and that she reps all my works. I breathed a sigh of relief and then got to work on the revisions. Unlike the first book we subbed, this one needed some revision to move three of the points of view to earlier in the book. That meant adding three scenes and we also cut a point of view and changed one over to another character.

GRUDGING ended up going on submission in February of 2015 to both young adult and adult editors. I noticed something different right away. I wasn't near as crazy because of this submission. I could focus on other things. I didn't spend every minute thinking about who might be reading it and whether anyone had sent a response. I knew what to expect and had a better handle on my emotions this time. In other words, I didn't get my hopes up. I never expected fireworks and amazing results.

Sarah started off with just a few editors and then added a couple more after a month. A few reading editors said it wasn't for them. We got a couple of rejections but most hadn't gotten back to her. Then low and behold, I got an email from Sarah in May saying don't read anything into this but an editor asked if GRUDGING was still available.

Huh?

That was new. What did that mean? I, of course, read everything into it, and then quickly convinced myself that good things didn't happen to me. It was an editor quirk and nothing more.

The next week on a Friday, Sarah called and left a voice mail to call her back quick. I stole some time away at work and had a coworker cover for me. The editor wanted to talk to me on the phone, could I talk on Wednesday! My mind went blank and I'm not sure how I made it through the rest of the day, let alone an entire weekend. Another call with Sarah after work still had us guessing. The editor didn't specify what he wanted to talk about. I'd already taken that Wednesday off work as it was my wedding anniversary. We set up a time for a call.

I was so nervous. Talking on the phone isn't one of my favorite things (actually pretty shy) and this was a conference call that included Sarah. We didn't know what to expect. I think I had major deodorant fail that Wednesday morning, if you know what I mean. And this wasn't just a regular editor, this was the top editor at the press, the head guy. Yikes!

I prepared for all kinds of questions from the editor, or possible requests for a major revise and resubmit. I wasn't prepared to talk just a little about my book and the future sequels, and have the editor spend most of the call telling me about their imprint! He was trying to sell me on them! A big six!

He told me they needed to crunch some numbers and he'd get back to us next week.

Knowing publishing, I wondered how long that would be. He was prompt to the minute on calling, but didn't a week actually mean a month? They sent a deal memo by email on Monday! They wanted the whole trilogy! And apparently, GRUDGING was in such good shape they wanted to publish in November of this year! No long year and a half or two year wait.

Could this be happening to me?

I guess it could. Because the contract is signed with Harper Voyager for a three book, digital-first deal of my epic fantasy! Now my new challenge is attempting to write sequels!

Thanks everyone for supporting me through this process. I know it's not done yet, but with the help of all the friends I've made, I'm halfway there.

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(GrudgingGoodreads or preorder from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Sorry there's no cover or blurb yet. Thank you!)  

40 comments:

  1. Wow--fabulous news, Michelle, and well deserved! Huge congrats on your deal (and your birthday). You must be so lit up you won't need candles for the next two years. Ah, but what's that I hear? The fast-approaching hoofbeats of deadlines. Better get busy on those sequels. (As must I...). So happy to see this happen for you!

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  2. Congratulations, so so happy for you!!

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  3. WHOOHO! Congrats! That's awesome for you! *throws confetti* :D

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  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderfully inspiring story!

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  5. I'm so thrilled to read your submission story! And I can't wait to read GRUDGING!

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  6. Yay! About time! You deserve all this. Good things happen to those who wait and don't ever give up! I'm beyond happy for you. What a great post. xoxo

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  7. Amazing news! Congrats, Michelle!

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  8. Hooray for you! You so deserve it!!! Good luck with the sequels. I'm assuming you have the whole storyline already thought out, or at least know where it is going?

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  9. What a great story!!! I loved it and feel anxious to read your book, GRUDGING.

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  10. Happy Birthday and Congratulations! I feel the same way about phone calls. OMG, but such a happy ending and you totally deserve it. :)

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  11. Happy Birthday and thanks for this inspiring post! It's so wonderful to see someone who helps writers as much as you do get what they truly deserve. WOO HOO!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey in getting published. You are so kind to always share your knowledge of experience and your writing talent. I can't wait to read Grudging! And haaaaaaaaappy birthday to you!!!

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  13. Congrats! I always love seeing stories of success after all the long work put in. And I can't believe how soon November will be here. Crazy! Good luck with the sequels. I'm working on book 2 of my trilogy now and I am seriously thinking that there needs to be a sequel support group . . . .

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  14. So happy for you! Thanks for sharing your story. Can't wait to read GRUDGING.

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  15. Thanks so much for sharing your story! And kudos on the birth of Grudging! :)

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  16. This is one AWESOME and ENCOURAGING story, Michelle. It just goes to show hard work, perseverance and nerves of steel (okay, maybe not steel) can payoff in the end. So happy to read this. I appreciate you sharing and am going to post this somewhere to remind myself that while the journey can be difficult and sometimes painful, we can all come out with a deal in the end.

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  17. Thanks for sharing your story! That's soooo amazing at how Grudging worked out! Congratulations and I can't wait to read it!

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  18. Congratulations! What a wonderful story! I can't wait to read the books!

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  19. YAY! Congratulations Michelle! You are so talented and work so hard, I am super happy to see this awesome great news for you! I can't wait to read it too!!

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  20. So wonderful to read! Congratulations and happy birthday! :D

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  21. Congrats, Michelle! What wonderful news! Epic fantasy for the win!

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  22. Wow guys! Thanks for all the congratulations and good wishes! You have sure made my day!

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  23. Happy Birthday and congratulations! <3

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  24. Woo-hoo! Thanks for sharing your story. So happy for you. Happy Birthday!

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  25. Congratulations, Michelle! What a wonderful story. I'm so glad your book is getting the attention it deserves, and I can't wait to read it! Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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  26. Oh, Michelle, what an inspiring post and such fantastic news! Here's to revisiting nightmares! Congratulations--and Happy Birthday!

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  27. I got happy chills reading this. I'm so excited and thrilled to be able to add Grudging to my Michelle Hauck collection. *wiping my tears and giving you a virtual hug*
    Luv ya, Happy Birthday, and super congrats.

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  28. What a great story! And I hear November is a good month to be releasing books! Happy Birthday, and happy book announcement!

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  29. So happy for you, Michelle!!!! So this is an adult fantasy series? Wow. Impressive. Harper Voyager is an excellent publisher (as you know). Kudos to your agent for hanging in there with you! Great story!

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  30. So happy for you, Michelle!!!! So this is an adult fantasy series? Wow. Impressive. Harper Voyager is an excellent publisher (as you know). Kudos to your agent for hanging in there with you! Great story!

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  31. Ah, such a great, inspiring story! Congrats, Michelle! You deserve it :)

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  32. This is so, so awesome. So well deserved. What a story! Good for you, Michelle. :)

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  33. Hooray! So happy for you, and to have you as my imprint-sister.

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  34. I know I congratulated you on twitter, but wanted to let you know your process of getting a book pubbed by a "big six" is very inspiring! I'm stoked I don't have to wait a long time to read this. Wow! Good job on editing! *happy-dance*

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  35. So happy for you Michelle! Congrats! And happy birthday!!!

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  36. What an inspirational story--congratulations!! Trilogy... Wow, Wow, and WOW!!

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  37. Thank you so much for sharing your story, from how waiting on submissions destroyed your mind to the epic deodorant fail. Congrats on finally having the chance to see your book in print.

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