Thursday, July 12, 2007

My very first sale

Right now I'm at the RWA national convention in Dallas, so Holly Jacobs is being a wonderful friend and posting this for me. Since I made my first sale because of RWA, I thought it would make a good blog while I'm away. So here goes!

I sold my first book as part of an editor appointment at the 1999 RWA national convention in Chicago. It’s rather funny. I have never owned a watch, so I showed up early like they say you are supposed to, checked in, and when some rather harried and stressed out volunteer told me to get in line and go in, I did. I was so nervous that I asked the editor if I could read her my pitch. Before I began, she said, "What line?" in this rather tired tone. See, she'd been moved to the line that spring and had tons of people trying to pitch her stuff for her old line. I can imagine her frustration.

So I said, "Harlequin American" to which she perked up and said, "Really?" and I said, "Yep," and named two top Harlequin/Silhouette authors who had helped me know she was the right editor to whom to pitch. The statements were true, although both authors had simply been kind enough to email me the information since I was a fan who loved their books. (We've since become friends.)

But before I could read my pitch, that harried volunteer was back. Seemed she'd put me in early, so I was in someone else's time slot! When they realized I was next, RWA just switched us since I'd already started. So I read my pitch, the editor requested it, and then we had about five minutes of chat time. So she asked me what Harlequin American books I'd read in the line lately (uh, none--they'd all been about two years old), so I named the Judy Christenberry book I'd picked up in the goodie room the day before (and which I promptly read that night). Then we talked about the line's upcoming direction--a much safer of a topic.

I got home from conference, mailed the book within the week, and in the middle of September (yep, that’s all it took), I got the call--and wasn't home. There was a 212 area code on my caller ID on a Friday afternoon. I had a local chapter meeting and everyone told me I'd sold, but I refused to believe it until I'd heard it directly.

So I got the call Monday at work, and went screaming out into the office--the school nurse where I taught thought someone was dying. The funny part is, during that call, the editor she said, “I met so many people that day, can you remind me who you were?” So I replied, “The one in the wrong time slot” to which she replied, “I remember you!”

But I sold my second manuscript right before convention 2000 and A Little Office Romance came out in October 2000, so I guess my mishaps turned out okay. I've sold a total of seventeen Harlequin American Romances, hit the Waldenbooks Series Best Selling list a few times, won Cataromance Best HAR of 2005 and been nominated for an RT award. The best part though, is I've done all this in eight years and you, the reader, have been with me all the way. So thank you. Dreams can come true if you're willing to follow them, no matter what mishaps occur along the way.
(PS--I never did tell anyone but my roommates about the tray of dirty breakfast dishes that my purse caught getting off the escalator following the appointment--and upended--after leaving that appointment. I don't claim to know anything about those and still don't.)

Michele Dunaway

Hart's Victory, Harlequin Stories Set in the World of NASCAR, 12/07
The Christmas Date, Harlequin American Romance, 12/07
The Marriage Recipe, Harlequin American Romance, 4/08


CrystalG said...

I love hearing about first sales. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Great story! :)

ABamaBecky said...

That is a wonderful story and we(your fans) are soooo glad that you made that first sale!!

Cherie J said...

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story!

Patricia W. said...

I really enjoy "Call" stories. Thanks for sharing your story.