Friday, April 11, 2008

How does it happen?

Since it's been awhile, and since people have been asking, I'm going to review how I became a real published author.

My first book, "Get Organized Without Losing It", was the result of having a son with dyslexia and ADD. He's a great kid, but he sure couldn't keep his stuff together in elementary school. So, although I was trying to write picture books, one morning I woke up and said, "I need to write a book for Kevin."

When I looked around, I couldn't find anything on the market that addressed the issues of organization for a younger child, elementary to middle school age. I had done tons of my own research to try and help him, so I put together a book proposal and sent it to the publisher most likely to publish it, and (many months later), they bought "Get Organized". This sale was a combination of passion, timing, luck, and research. I knew the subject and I targeted the market.

But I was also writing fiction, all types of fiction. I have picture book manuscripts and novels cluttering my files. But there was one manuscript I couldn't quit working on: "Faithful".

"Faithful" is set in Yellowstone Park, an area I know well. Partly I wrote it because I find the landscape so astonishing. Partly I wrote it because my mother died. Those two elements collided in this story.

I hadn't really sent the manuscript around because I was still working on it, when, in fall 2006, I had an email about an SCBWI () conference in San Antonio. It was a last minute decision to attend. They had offered critiques, but these were all sold out.

Then, a week before the conference, I had another email: a crit slot had opened up, and was I still interested? I had to respond with 10 first pages by 6PM.

So I sent the first ten pages of "Faithful". Now, I was in the middle of another major edit; I didn't even proof the ten pages.

My critique landed with Alyssa Eisner Henkin, then an editor for Simon and Schuster. When she announced at the conference that she was leaving S&S to become an agent, I was as nervous as a cat. I really didn't expect anything to happen in my critique.

But it did - and that's the magic of luck, combined with persistence.

I'll finish this story next time.


Dawn Buthorn said...

I only hope I can have a little luck when it comes time to submit my novel. I certainly have the dedication and persistence. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Dawn Buthorn said...

Hi Janet, TAG-you're it! You've been tagged in a writer/blogger tag game. Check my blog for the rules:

Hope you'll play along!