Thursday, November 20, 2008

How "Screw Cupid" Happened - My Publication Story

The story of how Screw Cupid came to be published started at a house party in Los Angeles. I was sitting on a couch and having the “what do you do?” conversation with the couple next to me. The girl in the couple – I’ll call her Leslie here - had recently published her first book, and we quickly got to talking about her process, and how she attained that most golden mecca of lofty goals: a published author. My manuscript was complete at this point, and as I told her more about it, she really liked the project and said she'd like to help me get published.

We exchanged phone numbers, and she very generously walked me through the process of writing a book proposal (largely based on the book “How to Write a Book Proposal” by Michael Larsen), helping me with my query pitch, and otherwise devoting hours of her time to helping me break into the business. As a result of her helping me fine-tune and craft the proposal, she knew the project really well. So when she received a call from an editor in New York asking her to write a new book about a subject related to her last book, she mentioned my name and project to this editor. He asked her to have me email him, which I did that night. He asked for the full manuscript the next day (which I stayed up all night putting final touches on!) and which I emailed to him as soon as I was done. He called the day after that and offered me a book deal. The rest is history.

Before I met Leslie, I had spent probably four months emailing queries to agents, all of which I found on I signed up for, and used their resources as well (how to write a query, researching agents, etc.). For each agent, I tried to figure out what books they had previously sold (via Google and Amazon), so that I’d have something to say in my opening paragraph that would show that I’d done my research - something that many of them mentioned they appreciated. Of the 16 agents I contacted prior to meeting Leslie, nine gave me personalized rejections, two gave me generic intern-generated rejections, and five didn’t respond at all. From what I gathered from my years of reading Writer’s Digest articles about querying agents, a personalized rejection should be taken as proof that you’re heading in the right direction, so I wasn’t too disappointed. I’d also heard you should be able to “wallpaper your bathroom” with rejection letters by the time someone accepts you, something I hadn't come close to doing yet.

Everyone's publication story is different, but the common theme is something I believe very strongly in: being at the right place with your manuscript, at the right time, and happening across just the right person—agent, editor, or publisher. You never know what may attract an agent or publisher to you - maybe you share a name with their baby sister, maybe you grew up in the same town. So even when you get rejected (and everyone does), it's important to keep trying.

Leslie wouldn’t let me thank her for her generosity in any sort of tangible form; she just requested that I pay-it-forward and help someone else. So here you go – if my story can help you get your wonderful manuscript out there for the world to enjoy, all the better.

Yours in pay-it-forward hopefulness,