If a picture speaks a thousand words, the photo below speaks volumes...
...save for the fact it doesn't capture the story behind the story.
Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know how hard I had to work to get my memoir published. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my journey, I'd been working on SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS for four years. In 2009, I wrote the story as it happened to me. In late 2010, I began contacting agents, sending off twenty-one queries. I believe the full was out with five or six agents when I received an offer of representation in January of 2011. Unfortunately, at this time an article bashing 'me'-moirs created some havoc, so we decided to hold off on submissions until the market for memoir heated up.
My agent was wonderful. But she left the business in late 2011. I was left in the hands of another agent for five months and, after facing a very tough decision, I decided to leave the agency and revise my manuscript, which was one hot mess. Then, I contacted freelance editor Jay Schaefer, who I'd discovered because he'd acquired and edited UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN by Frances Mayes, a book whose theme of starting over in mid-life was similar to mine, when he was with Chronicle Books.
Throughout this journey, along with the people who supported me, I'd met a couple of naysayers. People told me that without a strong platform I'd never be published. That I had to get an article placed in the NY Times Modern Love Column to even be considered by a publishing house. That memoir was a tough sell.
I asked Jay about his thoughts on the above. And he said something close to this: "Platform, shmatform. You have a fantastic and unique story to tell. I can't promise you it will be picked up, but I believe in it."
So I hired him. Jay didn't change my voice, or fix grammar issues, or re-write my life. He asked me the hard-hitting questions. He suggested cuts. And additions. I told him to "bring it on," that I had thick skin, and could handle whatever he threw at me. Now that I lived the story, I had more objectivity. We revised the manuscript again. We polished my book proposal up. I enlisted an army of beta readers. Two developmental edits and six months later, Jay introduced me to an agent he'd thought would be a good fit for SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS. She had the manuscript for four months. Although she loved the story, ultimately, I received a rejection. We tried three more agents. I received three more rejections.
After years of being more than patient, I decided to take my book into my own hands.
Sourcebooks was the first publishing house I approached. I'm originally from Chicago, their founder was from Paris, and other successful Parisian-based memoirs sparkled on their list. Something in my gut told me this house was 'the one.' So I sent off a very well-researched query, along with my book proposal, and kept everything crossed.
Then, I pulled the trigger again. In a crazy twist of events, I ended up selling my middle grade novel, KING OF THE MUTANTS, to Month9Books. Two weeks later, I was contacted by Sourcebooks, alerting me that they were impressed by my proposal and wanted to see the full.
Three days after I sent the manuscript to Anna Klenke, my now wonderful and fabulous editor, I received an email. At first, I was afraid to click it open. In my head I chanted, "Expect the unexpected. Expected the unexpected." I had to read the email twice. Because it was an offer of publication!
Long story short: I believed in myself. I believed in SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS. And I never gave up.
I also found the right people who believed in me and my story too.
Umbrella Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net