Daydreamer of Messy Love Stories

How I Got My First Book Deal

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After two books and six years, I finally got a book deal! My debut novel, ONE TOUGH COOKIE, comes out on July 18.

Here’s how it happened:

After signing with my agent in May 2021, we did three rounds of revisions. My agent prepared a submission package, which included a marketing plan for the book and pitch for a second novel. She also sent me a submission list of fifteen editors from big and small publishers. On February 2022, we were finally ready to go on submission. My agent sent the package to each editor and all but one requested the manuscript. Now all we could do was wait.

By March the rejections started trickling in. They were in the vein of, “There’s so much to love about this book, but ultimately I don’t love it enough to acquire because of this one subjective thing.”

But in April, an editor we submitted to followed me on Twitter, and I freaked out. What did this mean? A few days later, I had my answer. The editor, Toni Kirkpatrick from Alcove Press, sent an email to my agent that she loved the book and would pitch it to her team the next week. For those of you who don’t know, to get a traditional publishing book deal, you not only have to find an editor who loves the book, but the whole team at the publisher has to love it as well. This includes people from all departments: production, sales, marketing, and editorial.

A week later, Toni sent an email stating the team was interested in the novel but they wanted some changes. My novel includes a subplot where the company is getting ready for a food safety inspection, and I use lots of quality assurance and food safety terms. They wanted more about the making of the cookies and not so much the regulatory angle. This news sent me into turmoil, because it would require a major rewrite. We responded, defending the food science aspect of the book and how important it was for me to preserve it.

We got a response from Toni, and she understood our point of view. She asked for an outline of what changes I’d be willing to make so that she could get her team on board. My agent sent me some wonderful ideas, and I started working on a chapter-by-chapter outline of the changes. These changes were not as drastic as they originally proposed and did not change the core of the story. We sent the outline and waited.

I was nervous that the changes didn’t go far enough. What if all the other editors felt the same way? Would I be able to sell this book as it was?

But then on May 3, the news I’d been waiting on for so long finally arrived. I got an official offer! They loved the changes! My dreams were finally coming true.

My agent notified the rest of the editors who still had the manuscript and gave them a deadline until Friday, May 6 (my birthday) to respond. In the end, they all stepped aside.

After talking to Toni and some negotiations, I accepted the offer! Now, in less than six months, I will be a published author. And I hope this is the first of many book deals to come.

My takeaways:

  • You are never done revising. I had to revise my book with my agent for eight months before I could go on submission. This was something I wasn’t expecting, but I’ve heard it happening to other authors. Don’t assume that after you sign with an agent you’ll go on sub right away.
  • Be open to compromise. When the publisher came back with the changes they wanted, I was like “No way.” But the more I thought about it, the more ideas that came to mind about possible changes. With my agent’s input, what seemed impossible at first, became easy. I was able to create this outline in a short amount of time. If you follow the traditional publishing path, you may be asked to make changes you don’t agree with. Don’t reject all changes they propose, but also don’t compromise the story you want to tell.
    How I Got My First Book Deal

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    July 18, 2023

    One Tough Cookie Cover depicting flowers, leaves, sunglasses, apron, baking utensils, and a clipboard

    ONE TOUGH COOKIE is foodie women’s fiction set a cookie company featuring a Latina Fleabag.

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