Monday, October 14, 2013

How Did You Sell Your First Book?


How Did You Sell Your First Book?


This is a question a lot of authors ask. It never seems to be one that non-authors ask. And that’s because if you’re not a person who writes books, you don’t understand what it means to make that first book sale.

I have to admit that I didn’t really understand that either. 

Here’s why. 

I did almost everything backwards. My first sale was easy. I only queried two times before an editor asked for a full, and then offered me a contract. 

“So how hard can this publishing business be?” I asked myself. 

Even my second book went quickly from the writing to the sale. And then my publisher and the editor who “got” me vanished. That was something I hadn’t expected.

Now I’m going through what most writers go through when they start out. I’m querying, I’m trying to find another person in the business who thinks I write books worth publishing. I’m learning just how hard promoting my published books is while trying to work on another W.I.P. In other words, I’m answering my question. 

“This publishing business is very hard.”


Wish me luck because I know a lot of what happens in book publishing is having your manuscript land on the right desk at the right time. Luck is a huge factor, but persistence and writing well are equally important, and that’s what I’m working on every day.

So how did you sell your first book? Or did you go Indie right away? If you had a multiple choice test about your experience with the publishing business what would your answer be?

A. Frustrating 
B. Challenging
C. Discouraging
D. Exciting 
E. All of the above

This post is shared with UncommonYA. It's a new group of authors who write YA with an edge. Hope you'll stop by and say hello.





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I'm going to be posting on Thursday this week as well as Friday. There's a new book out that looks very interesting and B. B. Shepherd put together a great piece about it. Hope you'll be here on Thursday and read what she has to say. Then be sure to enter to win a copy of BRONZE part of the GLISTER JOURNALS. 

35 comments:

  1. A little frustrating because I couldn't generate the interest of anyone who published my genre. (Of course, this was during a time when everyone said science fiction was dead.) I did find a publisher who was willing to take on my genre though. The whole thing from start to signed contract took about eight months. I wasn't killing myself sending out a ton of queries though, either.

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  2. I'm in the process with you, and for me it's all of the above, depending on the day, sometimes the minute.

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  3. Good luck! I felt very lucky to find my publisher as it was a good fit but I am still trying to figure out the sales aspect. I need to do better with that and I have learned that it really is hard work.

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  4. I went Indie with my first book but am currently in the query process with my MG project. So unless or until someone "gets" me, I'm not sure I'll be able to answer the question about my first sale.

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  5. Good luck! And this is happening a lot right due to the explosion of small presses in the past few years.

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  6. wow. i can see that happening more lately with so many smaller publishers out there and agents being more picky... good luck! love the looks of your books!

    i queried many agents before finding a small pub editor who clicked. i'm on my second & third and hope we keep going!

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  7. It's def a roller coaster! I still haven't found that kismet with an editor. That's why I didnt even look with my release next month. I knew indie was the way to go with it.

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  8. Haven't popped over here in a while (regretfully), CL, and wow! LOVE the website. The book navigation bar is super cool. :)

    Sometimes I think you just need that first, big break. Persistence seems to be the key for most. :)

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  9. I enjoyed reading this candid post very much. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  10. Still trying to get email notification to return. Have tried everything, but nothing happening yet. Will try to touch bases with each of you, however, since I have most of your emails or you have them on your profile.

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  11. ah, the jolly old times before the alligators arrived :PP

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  12. It IS a very hard business. I have to admit I've spent very little time on querying as I'm not at the point I'd like to be yet. I keep getting close then learning something BIG that makes me rethink everything!

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  13. I'm not there yet, so I dunno. But I hope you get a bite soon!

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  14. Good luck with the querying. It can definitely be all of the things you mentioned in terms of exciting and discouraging.

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  15. Frustrating. I went Indie early on. I never queried my Backworlds books, except as a short story. Stopover was actually the 1st story I wrote and was originally a short. I got some kind rejection, which started me on this journey... and getting to know Lindsay Buroker.

    With the state of publishing right now, I think it's much harder to land on that right desk on the right day. Two years after publishing Semper on my own, someone approached me about buying it.

    So, I will continue with my approach and continue building my audience.

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  16. My first book was picked up fast by a little publisher, but then that publisher did something dastardly and the press no longer exists. I then tried querying with no luck. It was incredibly frustrating. I've self-published since then, but I'm going to attempt querying in the new year. It's a bit scary, but I'm not so terrified as I was before because I know I can handle the self-publishing path if I decide to do so.

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  17. Definitely E.
    Luck is a huge factor, which is so frustrating!
    Best of LUCK with your publishing ventures, because you've got everything else right.

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  18. Sorry in advance for my ignorance, where did your publisher and editor go if you had a contract then did they breach your contract?

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  19. Hi Keisha. So glad you stopped by to leave your question. I would have answered you on email, but you don't have that option turned on. You really should.

    Publisher gave up and, unfortunately, the editor lost her job. They didn't breach the contract. They just folded and I had to wrest my rights back. That's not an uncommon story.

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  21. I'd answer all the above when it came to querying. But, I also learned a lot. To be honest? I really want the satisfaction of traditional publishing. Yes, I do have stories I could do indie and will probably do so but that brass ring...yah, I'm reaching for that.

    Appendages crossed for landing the right agent and editor. You do have a track record to show and that's good.

    And yes, I do believe that persistence and writing well is equally important.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  22. Hi Lee - your experience must have been a little surprising - but going under is the way of the small business ... sadly.

    All of the above - but that's life in general too ...

    Good luck - as Sia mentions, you've been there and have the pedigree to show for it ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  23. Publishing is in such a state of flux that they do appear and disappear very quickly.

    I got my first book published when I sent off a manuscript that I thought no one would publish - it was my last attempt, and basically I just wanted someone to read it before I put it in a drawer forever. Right place, right time :-)

    Good luck!

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  24. Challenging and a process. One with a steep learning curve.

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  25. I don't have any first hand experience yet with books, but I've learned a lot from what other authors have said. These days the self-pub route seems the easiest, but there's still the promotion and I don't think many people understand what they need to do when they get to that stage.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  26. I didn't do a lot of querying before I decided to submit to a black publishing house who I figured would 'get' my stories. That worked for me and I ended up with a third contact in the same time frame. Don't know if I'd be that lucky these days, considering how much publishing has changed in the last 2-3 years.

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  27. Challenging. Self-published or not. Keep the faith.

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  28. I haven't published anything yet. I'm not even near querying! But when people ask me what I do in my spare time and I reply "I write," they always ask when I'll be published. Non-writers have no idea how hard it is to get something out there. When I tell them it's difficult to get published, they look skeptical.

    So good luck with your new book! It is hard, but you've done it twice before. It will happen :)

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  29. Lee- It was so interesting to learn about your publishing history and the ups and downs. I love your writing- so I know that you will find someone who wants to publish your books. :) I have found the publishing process to be far different from what I ever imagined. It has been a wild and crazy rollercoaster ride. Each day brings something new. :) It is a lot of work for sure! Best of luck to you!!

    ~Jess

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  30. It's interesting that almost everyone picked frustrating. My publishing experience has been a little frustrating, but the writing/querying experience was extremely discouraging and depressing. Yes, it's mostly about luck and odd personal tastes. I know great writers whose books aren't picked up. I've seen boring, derivative books get published -- some are hits, many fade away unnoticed, yet their authors are given several other chances (by editors with odd tastes) to hit a homer with new books.

    It's an unfair crapshoot, but I wish you buckets and buckets of luck. :-)

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  31. Good luck!

    I'm going Indie with my first novel, but I had a similar experience with selling some shorter work. My very first query of a short story sold and was followed by the second (a novelette this time), but then the publisher just up and vanished and scammed everyone out of what they'd earned. Publishing is definitely not easy whatever path one chooses.

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  32. Exciting & challenging. I sold my first novel to Delacorte when I pitched to an editor at a panel discussion. I've also indie pubbed. Hybrid, that's me.

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  33. Lee, this is a wicked, crazy, winding road full. I wish you lots of luck on this new path you're taking.

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  34. My first sale took me 8 years and 47 rejections. It was "submit to one house at a time" in those days. When you find someone who gets you, it's a wonderful thing, and a hard thing to lose. But it's possible to find it again.

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  35. Lots of time and lots of effort go in getting a manuscript between covers. I want readers to know that.

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