Writers in the Storm

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January 9, 2012

5 Things I Wish I’d Believed Before I Sold

By Laura Drake

From the title, you probably guessed my big news – I SOLD!!!

After 13 short years at this, I’ve sold a 3 book deal to Grand Central!  My first, Total Bull, a PBR world romance, is due out early 2013. For the uninitiated, "PBR" stands for Pro Bull Riding. (Who doesn't like a cowboy?)

The deadlines will show up in my inbox soon, but over the weekend I had some time for reflection (at my age, you’ll hurt yourself if you dance for more than a half hour at a time.)

I thought over what I’ve learned in the last thirteen years that I sure wish I'd known earlier.

  • Despair doesn’t last

I’ve been stymied at a zillion points in three books, not knowing what to do next. The plot was ka-ka, and I was stuck -- there was no way to get from where I was to where I needed to be.  Optimism seemed VERY far from where I was, floating at the bottom of the tank, trying to stay belly-side down.

But amazing things happened when I sat my butt in the chair (or rode my bicycle.) An idea would break, brilliant and perfect, and I’d scramble to get it down before I forgot it.  I went from loser to genius in less than a minute!

Unfortunately, delusions don’t last either.

  • Positive reinforcement can become crack

I placed in a contest. Then I won a contest. I got an agent. I got to acquisitions at a publisher. My days were spent in a happy blur, waiting for the next hit of good news. When it didn’t come, my clammy hands shook and I got snippy with people.

Then I got rejected. The crash was legendary. I realized I’d gotten addicted to the winning and lost the love of just doing the writing. 

  • Buzz is one of the great powers of the Universe

You’re shopping a sale at your favorite department store.  A woman beside you picks up a blouse. It’s gorgeous: perfect color, the right size, and OMG the price!  You just passed that blouse by a minute ago, but now that she has it, you want it. Bad.

Buzz is like that. The problem is, no one knows how to harness that power. But there are a couple of things you can do to put yourself in the shadow of The Force. Which brings me to my next point.

  • Put yourself "Out There"

Submitting is only a small part of what helped me sell. I got my agent indirectly through volunteering at my local chapter. If you network, give of yourself, and reach a hand back to help others, it can pay off ways you can’t even foresee. And you get the added bonus of feeling good about yourself at the same time. Win-win!

  • I’m never done worrying

I just move from angsting over one problem to the next in line. Repeat.

For those of you who have already sold your first book, what do you wish you'd known in advance? For those of you still writing your way toward that goal, what do you worry about the most?

0 comments on “5 Things I Wish I’d Believed Before I Sold”

  1. OMG, Laura! I am thrilled for you! And, I loved the lessons learned along the way to PUBLICATION.

    For the record, I am NOT buying that you can't dance longer than thirty minutes. I suspect you can't dance longer than thirty minutes while slugging bubbly straight from the bottle.

    1. Thanks so much, Gloria!
      I'm a bit out of shape - still trying to struggle back from breaking both lower bones in my leg in a freak fly fishing accident in October. Don't ask. It's way too embarrassing. I'm still paying off the bribe to the person who took photos...

  2. Congratulations! I wish I'd believed more of what the ones who went before me said. 🙂 And I wish I'd figured out earlier that there was no real "secret."

  3. That's great news, Laura!
    In this age of immediacy, compulsive communication and demand for instant gratification it's great to see such perseverance. Maybe you can't dance for more than half an hour, but you're a marathon runner.

  4. Laura--OMG Congratulations! I'm sooo happy for you! I can't believe I stumbled upon this great news of yours this morning. I'm way behind on lists/emails and had just popped up my Hootsuite and caught the message/link. And of course had to run over here to congratulate you!
    This question is one I always turn in to the Q&A for pubs. I'm like you--or in the place you were--waiting to hear on a project I have out. I love Liz Flaherty's comment--she learned there really wasn't a secret. But those little things you did--being proactive, doing all you can to put yourself out there, etc., seems like good advice. A good bottom line.
    Wow--enjoy this moment. And keep us posted on the journey! Big hugs!

  5. Laura,
    Congratulations and a great post today. Ride the high of success for as long as you can.

    The greatest lesson I have learned from you is tenacity and perseverence. Never, ever give up! Cowgirls rule and you're the bomb.
    Love ya,
    D. A. Watt.

  7. OMG you guys, you're overwhelming me! *sniff*

    I've always been amazed at how supportive and giving writers are - I'm so proud to be among you!!!

  8. congratulations on selling! I sold one of my manuscripts once, but do to unforeseen circumstances I backed out of the contract (which the publisher gave us permission to do). Your 5 things really hit home. If I didn't have perseverance, I would have quit a long time ago.

  9. Laura, I haven't stopped smiling since I first saw the news this weekend :):) I told my main reader, my good friend and often a life coach about you. I told her that between the two of you my bottom was sore from being kicked into action. I can never thank you enough for your encouragement. I am sure that all that you do for those like me to dispel our worry, fear, and doubt will come back to you ten fold. Biker gal, you are the bomb !!

    1. You know, Florence, I always feel like if only I benefit from a lesson, it's just not worth all the pain I went through to learn it. Only if I can save someone else from falling in the same hole, does it seem worth it.

      Hope some tidbit helps others - I have SO much to pay back!

  10. Huge congratulations, Laura. You must be floating on a cloud, so enjoy every moment of it! I fear the fear, but then reading about such wonderful news as yours forces me to get on with it.

    Again, congratulations. I can't wait for your release next year!

  11. Congratulations, Laura! Look forward to hearing more about your journey to publication. "Positive reinforcement can become crack" has to be one of the best lines in the blogosphere today.

    1. Embarrassed to admit it, Patricia -- but my WITS buds can attest to how whiny I got...you know it's bad when you see it in yourself without anyone telling you! Ugh.

  12. Many thanks for your post. Such wisdom, such courage! Strange I stumbled upon it through twitter. It was timely and pertinent. I heard what I needed to hear. Such a tough haul this publishing business is. Especially now. The whole scenario has become so murky: self pub has blurred the lines. Too much chaff out there. From what I gather publishers have become risk averse and squeamish about signing on debut authors. The key is to stay buoyed. It's hard though...and some days I feel it harder than other. Like today...
    I share in your success and I will learn from you. Congratulations. So well deserved!

    1. Congratulations!! I'm so happy for you, Laura! 🙂 I've told several other writer friends about your success and everyone is psyched for you. Yours is such an encouraging story of perseverance and faith. I can't wait to see your books on the shelves. 🙂

      Thanks for being such an encourager. Woot Woot! Another Margie grad gets the gold!

    2. I'm so glad it resonated with you.
      I know, we've all read the obits on NY publishing, and how no debut author has a shot.

      Don't believe it! Believe in you, instead!

  13. Oh, Laura, how wonderful! And a 3 book contract on your first sale! What belief in you shown by the publisher! It isn't just all good, it's FANTASTIC!!! I am so happy for you, especially knowing that you are going to publish books about something that you just love---Pro Bull Riding! Whoopee!
    Congratulations and enjoy every minute!

  14. Laura, I found your article very inspiring for me. I've been working at writing for several years now and I've hit that frustrated point where I continually ask myself 'why are you still not published?'. Thanks for this. I was wondering if I could feature it on my website as a favorite. My website is: http://www.anastasiafoxe.com. I can be reached at scgoitia@gmail.com. Thanks!

  15. Congratulations on your sale! A three book deal! That is terrific! I am struggling my way through revising the novel I wrote in November and barely dreaming of selling the thing. It's harder to read and fix it than it was to write it! Nevertheless, your success gives me hope that there's a chance out there for me as well. Congratulations, you inspiring woman, you!

    1. Sherilyn - it can take forever (although a few sell first time out,) so my advice would be to enjoy the writing, and the result, and don't look too far ahead . . . You'll just get discouraged, and I've seen too many good writers give up.

      We started doing this crazy thing because we liked doing the writing itself, right? Focus on that, and it will sustain you!

      Good luck - and stop back and let us know how you're doing!

  16. Awesome news!!! I am finishing up the first in a series and I identify with each one of your five. That way too high and bottoming low kind of suck sometimes. Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels that way. I am dreading sending out my queries and living for "that" moment when you hear back one way or the other. I'm not secure enough for this writing life...

    1. Yes, Lori, but the rub is, if you don't do it, you'll never know! What could be worse than that?

      Yes, the rejections hurt, but it's like plucking your eyebrows...remember the first time? My mom did it, and I howled. Now? Who notices that it stings a bit? It's like that. After close to 400 rejections (125 ea for three books) you can trust me on this!

      Jeez, put that way -- maybe I'm not persistent, just too dumb to quit!

  17. Congratulations, Laura. Success number two I've discovered today. It can happen! I'm nearly ready to query mine and I'm dreading it. So much safer in my little room, typing away. No one to please, no one to impress, except me.

    1. Valentina,

      Don't dread it - I got to where I actually kinda enjoyed it - always checking my inbox to see if I had a reply. It only takes one!!!

  18. Hi Laura - I'm a relatively new reader of the blog but it's already in my favorites. Congrats on your deal! Seeing a post like this keeps us all going... it kinda made my day. Cheers to you and to it all being worth it. Looking forward to following your progress. Good Luck!

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