January 24, 2012

What Happened After My Book Sold

Filed under: Frontstory,The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:13 pm

Before my novel finally sold, after 11 long years of trying, I wrote a backstory column on this blog. It contains lots of posts about what brought me to this point, what my struggles were, what worked, what didn’t, how to get an agent, how to lose an agent, and the like.

It’s hard for me to look over that column. There were hard times along the way. Times I despaired, although something kept me at it, and at it again, till my head bled. You know, from the banging against brick walls.

I didn’t have it rough by many writers’ standards, and I’m grateful for that. For 8 years of my journey-to-get-published, I was able mostly to stay home, take care of my kids, and squeeze writing in around that. But there were certainly the nights when, hoping to hear some pearl from an author, something that might illuminate whatever I wasn’t doing or was doing wrong, I drove through snowstorms  in the dark, lost, and crying because I was missing out on another night with my family for this pointless pursuit. Who cared if it was a dream?

Then my book sold, and I figured that backstory column ended with a bang. (If you look at the pic, it did in fact end with a bang.) But then something nice happened. I started getting emails asking what was going on. When was my book coming out? And when I named a date, How come it took so long?

I realized that possibly always, but especially in these changing times in publishing, what goes on behind the scenes at a publishing house is pretty opaque. Mysterious. (And when my book finally does come out, you’ll see there’s little I like better than figuring out a mystery). Thanks to the kind interest from readers, it started me thinking that maybe people would like one bird’s eye view of this process.

I can’t say what debuting in traditional publishing circa 2011-2013 is like for everybody, of course. But I can share details about how it’s going for me. I hope they interest you. As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, just email me. This new column–let’s call it frontstory–is a conversation between us. It’s a journal I’m writing about this momentous journey.

And I thank you for sharing it with me.

I’ll start with where I was when I finally got the news from my agent that there was an offer, just because it speaks to how life sometimes pairs the most elevated with the most mundane.

I was Swiffing my living room floor. My agent actually apologized for calling me twice–apparently she’d left a message a little earlier and I’d missed it. I hope I wasn’t doing something even lesser at the time, like scrubbing the tile grout.

“I have some good news,” my agent said, in her dignified, understated way. (When my agent promises something big is about to happen, oh boy, do I listen. This is not a woman who embellishes. A welcome trait in today’s marketing-laden world.)

After she told me that BE (Brilliant Editor) had made an offer, I squealed at her: “And you were apologizing for calling me back??”

Then we laughed together.

My husband and I picked up my son at preschool, and drove to my daughter, who was in first grade at the time.

“Where are we going?” my son asked.

“You’ll see,” said my husband. “Just wait. We can’t tell you yet.”

We called my daughter out of class. We told both kids in the lobby of the school. They hugged me for long enough that I could almost–almost hold onto that moment. These are the kids that held a parade around the house, carrying posters which said, Gat publisht. To whom I had to apologize when the words took me away from them for too long. They knew what this meant.

After that I had to do something even more mundane than Swiffing or scrubbing grout–one of those annual medical tests women and men have to endure (though they’re different ones usually). It was from the waiting room that I called DWF (Dear Writing Friend) to share the news.

Things got a lot less mundane than housecleaning and checkups a few weeks later. A few moments stand out. And, since every mystery has a cliffhanger, I’ll tell you about them in the next frontstory post.


  1. Jenny! I’m so happy for you I could burst, and when your book hits stores, I’ll be the first in line. And you better believe I’ll be sending it to you for an autograph. :)

    I’m keenly interested in this frontstory stuff. I like to learn about what I’m involved in, and since I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum from you (self-published) I’m hoping that your insights into traditional publishing will help me be a better author. Keep it coming, this is fantastic stuff. :)

    Comment by Thomas A. Knight — January 25, 2012 @ 1:51 am

  2. Thank you, Thomas, as always for your support and enthusiasm. You know I feel it right back atcha. And you will not have to mail any book to me–I will come to a bookstore near you, one way or another, and you and I will give a writers chat together. Seriously. But that’s a piece of frontstory to come :)

    Comment by jenny — January 25, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  3. Jenny! Are you trying to make me cry while I’m at work!!

    You KNOW the part about your kids resonates SO strongly with me. You know I’m in the same boat.

    And you have to know how happy this post just made me. :)

    Comment by Leah Rhyne — January 25, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  4. It just amazes me to listen to the struggles people have endured to get published. And despite all the hard times, you still found time to support and encourage all the other wannabe authors you encountered along the way.

    I can’t wait to read the final product!! If anyone deserves success, it’s you, Jenny. Congrats and best wishes.

    Comment by mountainmama — January 25, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  5. I love the beginning of front story and I think it will be helpful to all those still waiting for their call…including me. :)

    Comment by Judy — January 25, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  6. I’m now waiting for my third novel to be released – later this year, they say. The agony! In the meantime, I publish shorter stuff myself, and I’m now looking forward to doing some non-fiction. I can’t just wait and twiddle my thumbs, can I?

    Kudos to you, Jenny – there will be a line a mile long when it finally happens. You have one of the most important virtues on my list. I wrote about that in my blog today. See it here:

    Comment by Rosanne Dingli — January 25, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  7. Leah, don’t cry. (Though I know those tears will come when you get your call!!) Mountain, I hope what you say is true–for a long time, the only thing I *could* do was try and support other writers and get the word out about their great books. The best thing about this writing life, I think, is that the more wonderful books there are, the more people love to read, and the better it is all around. Judy…your day and your way is coming!

    Comment by jenny — January 25, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  8. It’s nice to have your children as your big supporters. I hope they read the book. :^)

    Comment by Penelope Marzec — January 25, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  9. Jenny … What a wonderful story! And you’ve worked so hard for your success, and you’ve got such talent – You truly deserve all the good stuff that’s come your way.
    I love the part about your kids – and your husband. It reminds me of when I got my very first book review, and it was a good one …
    My sister ran a copy of it off her computer, took it to work with her and posted it outside the door of her office with a note: This is my sister!
    I know there are writers who succeed without the support of family and friends – and sometimes succeed in spite of family or friends. But it’s so much easier when you have that support.

    Comment by P.L. Blair — January 25, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  10. Thank you, Rosanne. I’m going to read this now. And thanks, Pen & PL. The kids and the family–you are both so right. PL, your sister doing that for you is another Made It Moment!

    Comment by jenny — January 25, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  11. Jenny,

    This is a great story. I am happy for all of your success. You deserve it. It’s great that you can share this with us and your family.


    Comment by Kellie — January 25, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  12. Great post, Jenny. Sharing this journey with you is very exciting and inspiring.

    Comment by Susan — January 25, 2012 @ 9:55 am

  13. Aw!!! Thank you for sharing that wonderful moment with us! I love that you were swiffing your floor! Though writers are obsessed and focused on the story, we still have to live in the real world. I am still your biggest fan-girl, despite the fact that you clean your own grout! Thank ytou for the laugh this morning!

    Comment by Connie J Jasperson — January 25, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  14. Jenny,
    Great to hear a story of true tenacity. Many famous names took lots of time to get that first big sale. I hope ’13 is a lucky number for you and the book. Best, wz

    Comment by Wayne Zurl — January 25, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  15. I’m so happy for you, Jenny. And, having grown up in NY during the Seinfeld era, I’m rarely happy for anyone. ; ) Look forward to following your journey — and journeying alongside you. For me, next year’s release (though my 4th) feels very much like my 1st. Very excited — and I don’t feel so alone this time around! Cheers, Doug

    Comment by Douglas Corleone — January 25, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  16. There was a big smile in my heart thinking of you gathering your children and celebrating the moment! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Comment by Pamela Brennan Albacete — January 25, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  17. Kellie & Susan, getting to know you guys and other at places like the Wheel has been one of the best things AS (After Sale). Thank you for being here and for your kind words. I can’t wait to cross paths as readers and writers for a long time to come.

    Connie, from one fan-girl to another, you are leading the way in this writing life–and I hope to join you, figuratively and literally–in another night of talking shop in your neck of the woods, and maybe one day a real writers event together.

    Wayne, thank you for saying that. Tenacity or brute stubbornness? I like your word better :)

    Doug, how great to see you here! You have an enormous milestone coming up in 2013–the release of a book that will put you on a whole new road. I am so excited to read it.

    Comment by jenny — January 25, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  18. It really is a big deal to have a first novel published by a major traditional publisher. And yes, I know how difficult it is! I and a great many other hard-working writers are rooting for your success.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — January 25, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  19. It means a lot to every writer among us to hear that the waiting, the down times, (and the ups) the cry “NEVER GIVE UP” and, finally a happy resolution, are pretty much common to us all. We are not alone! Now, I am waiting to buy.

    Comment by Radine Trees Nehring — January 25, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  20. omg. Two words to cherish and remember forever. Gat publisht.

    Comment by SavvyBlue — January 25, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  21. You’re a good writer, Jenny…that can be seen from your first frontstory post about having received the news from your agent that someone was interested in pubbing your book. A few of the things you said made me “teary”…probably because I’ve been there and/or am still there!
    Looking forward to your next ‘installment’!
    Best always,

    Comment by C.V. Smith — January 25, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  22. Hi, Jacquie, and Radine, Savvy, and Cindy. You have all been there in different ways at points of this journey so far, and I am proud to have been there for some parts of yours. Best. Party. Ever. All the authors and readers and writers of this blog, all together.

    Comment by jenny — January 25, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  23. That’s it. Party at my house. NOW. :)

    Comment by SavvyBlue — January 25, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  24. Jenny, you’re always so positive with your Made It Moment. Looking forward to the Backstory. Going on the publishing journey is surely a bumpy one. So happy for you. Time to party.

    Comment by JLOakley — January 25, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  25. Congratulations! Thank you. May every day bring you cliffhangers and resolutions.

    Comment by Cindi — January 25, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  26. Jenny: You do the pain justice – I feel it.

    Comment by Padraig Murphy — January 25, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  27. Okay, you! You brought tears to my eyes. I can’t wait to read part two of this series!! And I really can’t wait to read your book.

    Comment by Johanna — January 25, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  28. I’ve never in my life seen anyone persist the way you have! Thank you for sharing the fun part, too.

    Comment by Sandy Hutchison — January 25, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  29. Someone else took my post. Congratulations all over again. Gat publisht-priceless! So happy for such a neat lady!

    Comment by Lil Gluckstern — January 25, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  30. Great story, Jenny! You’re really good at the cliffhanger, too. I feel like I’m watching Lost again, though I know you’ll eventually answer all questions. *Grin.*

    Comment by D — January 25, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  31. Great post Jenny. I love the parade. I love the Swiffer. I love that I get to pick up you book and read it next year.


    Comment by Pamela DuMond — January 25, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  32. Jenny, what a nice story. I have heard of your 11 years of struggle and triumphant at the ABNA discussion board a year ago. Finally I get to read about the details. I love it when your family hugged you for a long time. You are doing very well with so many followers already. You will do well when your book is out.

    Comment by Lisa Zhang Wharton — January 25, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

  33. You guys are all so wonderful to be here. Janet, let’s have that party together! Cindy–what a great wish. Pat & Johanna–thanks for getting the pain and the poignancy. Sandy, it’s great to see you here! Honestly, everyone here knows a lot about perseverance–and I still hope to read something more of yours one day. Lil, thank you for all your support–I can’t wait for the time our paths might cross in person. D, if you could pinpoint one thing I’d be most proud of accomplishing in a book, I think it’d be the cliffhanger or the twist–so, thank you for saying that. I promise I will deliver. Pam, your last “love” gave me tingles. Thank you. And Lisa, here’s to great things in store for your book, and both of us getting to meet readers together.

    Comment by jenny — January 25, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  34. I love hearing your stories – especially now when your hard work is paying off. I know all those years of devotion to writing was the best thing you could do for your kids – what a great image they have now of what it takes to achieve success. Kudos to you!

    Comment by Juanita Wilson — January 29, 2012 @ 12:44 am

  35. [...] here, for other people to see! It existed, and now me, my agent, my loyal trustys, and family–them of the Gat Publisht kids–weren’t the only people to know about [...]

    Pingback by Suspense Your Disbelief » So Then What Happened? — February 8, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

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