Last week I told about my very first published work, Babes in Spyland.
This week, we’re delving into my first published novel!
I mentioned before that after I’d gone to a professional writing conference I made a goal to have a YA book written and ready to pitch to an editor the next year.
Often times, at these conferences, you can pay for time with an editor that works for a publishing company.
Sure, you can ambush them in the hallway and try to tell them about your book, but I was much more comfortable with the idea of the two of us in a room by ourselves and the only thing we were there to talk about was my story.
I rewrote my first book seven or eight times. Maybe more. It was crazy! I had a great idea, but I didn’t know a whole lot about the nuance of telling a good story, so each time I learned something new, I would change my book.
Most often for the better.
After a year of writing, rewriting, having a whole bunch of people read it, more rewriting, and spending a whole lot of my free time with my laptop, I had a book to pitch at the conference!
The experience was perfect. The editor was kind and asked for a copy of my manuscript.
However, I knew that the two of us weren’t going to click. I liked this woman, but didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of working with her. I think our personalities were too similar so when, months later, she politely rejected my story, I wasn’t butt hurt.
So I took the book to another conference, once again paid to chat with an editor, and had another request for the manuscript.
Then I waited. I sent it to a few other editors and publishing houses, but only got rejections.
The next year, at the conference I’d first pitched at, I met a small publisher that I’d submitted too, and when I talked to them they were thrilled about the pages I’d sent them and asked for more.
At that moment, I knew they would publish the book.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever had that experience, but I felt it all the way through my body. I KNEW.
Sure enough, a month or two later, my first YA novel was under contract!
The road to publication after that wasn’t totally smooth. My book got pushed back in the schedule, which was frustrating. The publisher was having me post on Twitter (the social media platform of the day) which I was garbage at.
I anticipated heavy edits from the publisher, like many of the other authors that I’d spoken to who worked with them, but only got a proofreading edit. Typos and grammar. I knew my book wasn’t perfect, and had been anticipating the process of improving it.
I didn’t get that opportunity, which I’m still sad about.
However, I did get most of the other experiences I’d been wanting. Like being super excited when I opened my first Advance Reader Copies of the book!
I remember being so nervous for the book to come out that I went and got a pedicure then went to Barnes and Noble, where I almost cried!
How many times had I imagined seeing my name on a book in a book store?!? It was surreal and a dream come true. One of the workers asked if I needed help, and I just pointed and said, “That’s my book!”
A week or so later I had my first book signing in a Barnes and Noble. (This was the thing to do back in the day)
I sold out of books and had a great turn out of family and friends!
This was in 2013. I’ve come a long way since then, embracing self-publishing and adopting a pen name in addition to Jo Schneider.
New Sight has been through a couple of cover iterations, which has been kind of fun. I do love the original, but my publishing company was bought up and I got my rights back, so I had to change the cover.
One book turned into three, and now there’s a finished trilogy for New Sight along with a couple of side stories!
One thing leads to another, and a whole lot of hard work, and suddenly you’re a published author!
Don’t give up on your dreams, people. 🙂