Monday, February 24, 2020

How I Got Published

I've had so many people ask about my publishing journey. Sometimes, I forget that I've been published before because I just got a superstar agent last October (Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency). So how does it all work? How did I traditionally publish three books and not have an agent?

I finished writing my first book, Remembrandt, in 2013. Although it took me about a year to write and edit the book. I had a great writing group that read through the whole book and gave me feedback, as well as beta readers. I started querying the book (i.e. sending letters to agents to see if they were interested), and I actually had some interest, including several requests for the full manuscript. But no one offered to represent me. Truth be told, I was only actively searching for an agent for about a month. But I kept writing. I decided that I needed to get some more words under my belt before I started querying again. I wrote another book (a contemporary fantasy that I haven't yet tried to get published) and started a third one. During this time, I'd periodically get a rejection letter from an agent who I had sent to months before.

Then, about a year after I started querying, a got an email from an editor for Walnut Springs Press. They had originally been interested in my story, but because they were a smaller publisher (and my life was crazy busy with a new baby and living in Texas for the summer), I hadn't accepted their offer. Well, a year later, they noticed it hadn't been published and were still interested. Since I loved Remembrandt so much and it had been gathering dust, I pulled it out. I'd already done an overhaul revision of the book, but did another one before I sent it off to Walnut Springs Press.

A few weeks later, I was signing a publishing contract and only a few months later I was approving a book cover and pages. Remembrandt was published in October 2014.

That fall, I wrote most of Van Gogh Gone (Remembrandt #2), during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was published by Walnut Springs Press in October 2015. I wrote Memory of Monet (Remembrandt #3) over the next few months and it was published October 2016.

I loved the experience of being published, my book launches, book signings, teaching at conferences, visiting schools, audiobooks. It was a great learning experience. But I wanted more. I wanted an agent who could get me with the big publishing houses.

I started querying a fantasy I wrote in 2016. I'd got a lot of requests for a full manuscript. I even met with two agents, but ultimately, it seemed like I'd broke into young adult fantasy when the market was saturated with it. After sending out about a hundred queries and still having no agent, I decided that I should start writing something else (even though I'd already written over half of the sequel to that book).

I wrote most of a young adult contemporary novel, The Girl with Two Hearts in November of 2018. It's the story of heterotrophic transplant survivor, Grace, who has one last wish before her two hearts give out: get a standing ovation, but when a singing performance sends her to the hospital, Grace has to decide if giving up singing will break her hearts, instead of saving them. I finished the book in February 2019. After only querying about 15 agents and having a lot of interest, I knew this book was something I wanted to fight for no matter what. I revised it a few times, debating at the ending several times, and then started querying even more. By September, I had about 5 full manuscripts sitting with agents. Liza Fleissig made me the first offer. I had 3 offers after that, but I felt strongly that they were the right fit for me.

And that's where I'm at now. We are submitting the novel to publishers in hopes that one will be interested in publishing the book. While I wait, I'm working on finishing two other contemporary YA books. So, my publishing journey isn't over. I feel like it's just beginning.