First Published in Women's Writer's: http://booksbywomen.org/a-publishing-journey-10-years-3-agents-7-manuscripts/
Publishing Journey: 10 Years, 3 Agents, 7 Manuscripts
By Cara Reinard
A while back, authors were asked on Twitter to share the arduous process of becoming traditionally published with three numbers: years, agents, and manuscripts.
There aren’t any authors I can recall who had “ones” across the board, and there’s a reason for that. Almost no one gets “the deal” on their first crack. Here’s a little insight into my personal journey: 10, 3, 7.
In 2009 I wrote my second book (I shelved my first), which I finished on maternity leave. What? Who writes a book with a new baby? I know, but here’s the thing: he was nocturnal for three months and I don’t sleep during the day, so while he slept, I finished my domestic suspense novel.
Stats on the first book before I secured my first agent--63 queries, including the one I was invited to send from a junior agent at a large New York City agency of my dreams during a Twitter pitch contest. She signed me shortly after, and so I thought--this is it!
After edits, it was time to go on submission. I was sure it was going to sell. There wasn’t anything on the market like it. I was so sure, while she was pitching the book to publishers, I wrote its sequel (I advise against this). After six months with no interest, my disposition on the submission process changed to--outlook looks bleak. My agent suggested we start brainstorming new projects.
But I have a sequel…Dread.
Finally, after more than a year, it was evident the book was not going to find a home with a traditional publisher, but I still had a strong desire to publish both books. I suggested a smaller publisher, but my agent didn’t agree. At that point, I just wanted to launch my books into the world, so I had to make the difficult decision to separate from my agent submit to the small publisher of my choice. I had a deal in a matter of months from the Wild Rose Press for Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades and Last Doll Standing.
My goal was still to traditionally publish, and I needed an agent for that, so I wrote another book, this time, women’s fiction. I had one agent high on my radar for women’s fiction, but I never thought she’d bite. Stats for the second agent: 42 cold queries. She bit! My first choice agent. This one was definitely going to be the one. While my book was on sub, I wrote another book (we’re up to 5 now). Unfortunately, even though we had a lot interest on book #4, after fifteen months, the women’s fiction book didn’t sell either. My agent also “didn’t connect” with the new book I had written…so she released me from my contract. Oh…the dread.
Outlook was really bleak at this point and I quit writing. I know, I’m probably not supposed to tell you this, but if you’re reading this article and you’ve quit writing, take it as a sign that you should pick up your computer and try again, because you’ll never know how close you were to succeeding if you give up now! The very next book I wrote would become a published novel…just not right away.
Serendipitously, at the same time I “quit” writing I took on a sales territory at work that required overnights and hotel time, and I suddenly found myself with something I never had before—time. I decided to use those spare moments to write. I wrote a domestic thriller called Into the Sound, which I queried 23 times. After a Twitter pitch contest, I found my third agent, Ella Marie Shupe from Belcastro Agency. Same old story though—we went on sub, no bites.
By book six, I’m pretty jaded, I’m not going to lie, but here I am with this hotel time, so instead of trying to tackle another book, I write a short story for an anthology called Into the Woods. The story is published, and I can’t get the premise out of my mind—of knowingly leaving a body behind in the woods to spare the other party of culpability—so I decided to expand on the story and write my breakout novel, Sweet Water, #7.
Sweet Water was only on submission for less than three months before it had two offers for publication! I couldn’t believe it. I chose Thomas & Mercer from Amazon Publishing and I couldn’t be happier. The second book they purchased…drum roll…was Into the Sound. That’s right, they purchased book #6, after book #7—it happens all the time, I hear. And my newest release, The Den, pitched as Knives Out meets Succession, will be released December 13th!
I’m looking forward to the future, and when anyone asks me about my writing journey, I’m quick to summarize now: 10, 3, 7. And when they ask me, was it all worth it. I say—absolutely!