Thursday, November 8, 2012

How I got a Publishing Contract!

The way this book contract came about is nothing short of miraculous. All I can say is when it’s God’s timing, it’s His timing. We can either help him or hinder him. Here’s how it happened for me…

Well, as I explained in earlier blogs, the idea of the books came from a dream. A dream which I strongly felt was the Lord ministering to me about my loss of passion for something that had been very near and dear to me since I was about eight years old, playing my flute and enjoying worshiping and making music. THAT, is a whole other story which I won’t get into today. However, I believe He sent me the dream, and as a result, the ideas and characters for The Deceiver series were born.

I finished writing the first two books around the beginning of February 2012. Originally they were combined into one big book 637 pages long. I split it into book 1 and 2 after I got the contract offer and my publisher and I decided it was the best way to kick off the series since there would be at least four more books to come anyway and we thought it best to keep the length to around 350+/- pages.

By the time I was finished, I had been writing if for nearly 2 years and only when I could carve out time on weekends or a few minutes at night during my work week. There were so many weeks where I hadn’t been able to write a single line due to the busyness of my life and all the obligations I have. The longest I went without toughing it was a month due to a big test I was studying for at work, and it was pure torture! (The not writing part and the test)

I’d been trying to study and my mind would run off on scenes I had yet to write and new twists I hadn’t thought of before. It was very distracting but was a direct reflection of where my heart was. I felt like I was living two lives. I have successful fulltime career and I work with wonderful precious people during the day. Then there was my secret passion and dream that I could pull out at night and on weekends and be a closet writer. I still love my day job, but writing…writing is a whole new level of joy for me.

Even when I was done with the book, I was still nervous about how I should go about getting it published. I had promised myself that if it never got published I’d be okay with that and that it would be for me. But I still r-e-e-e-a-l-l-y wanted to try and was praying that I’d make it.

I had been conducting research for months on how to get traditionally published and compiling a list of the top publishers to make my “wish list”. What I found was that many publishers didn’t even want to deal with the author directly. They only wanted you to go through a Literary Agent.

So I decided to research Literary Agents too, just for the heck of it. I mean, what if I needed one? And since I didn’t know how many publishers were going to give me the “thank you for thinking of us but you suck” letter, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could find a Literary Agent to tell me that first or not.

I had my lists…I had my big fat book…I had cold feet. So I decided to go read through my book again and try to clean it up a little; looking for spelling, missing words, missed punctuation or the run ons…I tend to have some once in a while like you probably already caught on to that and it’s sort of like this sentence you’re reading r-i-i-i-i-g-h-t now actually, if you feel me?  ;o)

Once I got up the nerve, I decided to send an inquiry to an agent I found online. She didn’t want to see any part of the book at all. Her only online inquiry requirements were simply to send her a one page description of my book along with my name and contact information. I won’t say WHO this Lit Agent was and there really isn’t a need to anyway since she sent me back an email that basically said, “thanks, but I don’t think this is right for me at this time.”

Okay. So I was stung for about a day, then I let it go. After all, she hadn’t read my book, so I choose to believe that it didn’t really count. Besides, I had learned from research and watching interviews of other successful author, that it can take a couple years to find a Literary Agent who catches your vision and is willing to take a chance on you. And then it can take them another couple of years to find you a publisher and you’ll most likely to get rejected a couple dozen times before they will even give you a shot. Then by the time you find a publisher, it can be one to two more years before your book is even printed and released to the public. So I was ready for this to take about six years or so. I had time.

After the Lit Agent said, “hmm, no thanks”, I sort of just sat on the book for another month and kept on reviewing it and making minor edits. After all, this could take a while anyway, why rush into anything? I still had my wish list of publishers and knew who I could send the manuscript directly to and who I couldn’t. My top choice was Tate Publishing and are one of the few who actually allow the Author to send in their manuscripts directly online. But that wasn’t why they were my top choice. I liked how they presented themselves, as the most “Pro-Author Publisher in the industry”. I liked their morals, their beliefs and they just felt right to me. Yet I was still very nervous. So so soooooo nervous.

On Monday, July 9th, 2012, when I was at work I started getting this feeling in my gut that I had to move now and submit my manuscript to Tate Publishing THAT DAY.  There was an urgency and certainty in the pit of my stomach that just kept growing. By the end of the day, the feeling was so loud and so intense that I was desperate to get home and submit it. I nearly ran out of the office to get to my car. I couldn’t wait to get home! I knew I had to do it today. God couldn’t have been any louder unless He had shouted audibly to me and tapped me on the top of the head with a stick.

As soon as I got home from work I dropped my purse to the floor and ran to my laptop to start it up. It couldn’t have loaded in slower! Ah! I checked my manuscript as fast as I could to make sure that it at least had my name on it, and pulled up their website, found the submission link, and I submitted it right then on their website. I received an instant notification that it had been successfully uploaded and was informed by that message that I would be receiving an email shortly as confirmation. Well, the email never came! Now what!?
The next morning I called Tate Publishing just to make sure they had received it in good order and that someone could see it in their queue. I didn’t want it floating out there in internet-techno land somewhere all alone. Even though I had already submitted the entire thing to the US Library of

Congress just to cover my butt, I still didn’t want it lost somewhere!
The receptionist was so sweet when she answered the phone and informed me that my manuscript had been received and had already been assigned to one of their Acquisitions staff. She transferred the call to Donna, their Associate Director of Acquisitions. She very graciously took my phone call and pulled up my manuscript with me on the line just to make sure it had all come through so I wouldn’t have to worry.

She informed me that she would be reviewing it and that I would hear back from her within several weeks. She let me know that she would be looking first of all for talent, then writing style, a compelling story and so on. She also informed me that she would not be reading the entire book but would be selecting chapters at random to read. I wanted to tell her, “Oh, read here, then read this chapter, then this one,” but I didn’t want to be pushy or take up her time so I bit back all my comments and questions and decided it was in God’s hands. I thanked her for her time and we hung up. Then I fervently prayed that God would direct her to right places to read.

The rest of the week I felt this stirring going on inside, like a shifting happening mingled with excitement, anticipation and nerves! I could feel something happening out there. I felt something coming, but didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing.  I just kept praying and gave it all to God asking that his will be done. If they were the publisher that God had planned for me, then it would happen in His timing.

Just four days later, on Friday the 13th, the wait was over. I wasn’t expecting to back from her for weeks. When I received an email in my inbox from Donna at 7:30 PM PT (9:30 PM CT- they are in Oklahoma), my stomach dropped and my pulse spiked. I hastily opened the email and felt my eyes bug out of my head as I saw that it was a congratulatory message with a contract offer attached! I couldn’t believe it! In four days and on my first attempt, a publisher had snatched up the book and me along with it. This was definitely a God thing! This just doesn’t happen in the writing world folks. It’s a rare as a white lion in the wild.

Well, I starting doing the girl thing and screamed at the top of my lungs over and over. My poor husband was on an international phone call, and had to hang up so come make sure I wasn’t bleeding to death or something. He came in with his eyebrows raised and his phone clutched in his hand and asked, “Are you okay? What happened?”
I was nearly speechless, the screaming had communicated my excitement better than I could vocalize, but I tried nonetheless. “I just got an email from, Donna, at Tate Publishing. I have a contract offer!” I said in a disgustingly high pitched voice.

“You what?” He said in absolute disbelief.
“I got a contract offer!” I said again, reclaiming some of my mental faculties and sounding slightly more human.

“But…but you said it could take like two years to find a publisher!” He said getting excited, but still in shock. Glad I wasn’t the only one.
“I know! Praise God!” I said, the wonder of it all sinking in and sparking me to life.

“But…but they were the first publisher you sent it to!” He continued, his logical brain refusing to accept the enormity of this unexpectedly quick news.
“I know, Praise God!” I said again. I didn’t know what else to say!

“Really!? What’d she say!?” He walked over to where I was sat paralyzed on the couch and I read him the email. I was giggling by the end of it. I was laughing and almost crying I was so full of joy, shock and amazement. It took me a good fifteen minutes to touch back down to the Earth and breathe normal. This was probably the best news I had ever received in my entire life.
But it gets even more amazing. On my next blog, I’ll explain how the timing of events, the direction I felt in my gut, and small little puzzle pieces God had to maneuver to make this all happen is even more incredible. That’s next time. As it is, I think I wrote quite a bit tonight.

Thank you for reading. God bless. Until next time…
R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook

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