How I sold my first book

February 28, 2008

Or: Everything I needed to know, I learned from George Costanza

 

I’ve always loved to read, so it was no surprise to anyone when I eventually decided to write a book of my own. When I did, I attacked it head on. I planned, I worked, I outlined more than any woman should. The end result? I wrote three mysteries that didn’t sell.

 

I don’t know how many of you watch Seinfeld, but there is a time in George’s life where he decides what he’s been doing hasn’t been working, so he decides to do the opposite. That’s what I did with my books. I’d been writing serious mysteries, with lots of science and research involved. They’d generated some interest, enough to almost, almost sell. But nothing quite happened.

 

To take my mind off the latest mystery making the rounds with agents, I decided to write something completely different, a funny paranormal romance where I could build my own world and make up my own rules. I fell in love with the idea of a preschool teacher who is forced to run off with a gang of geriatric biker witches and THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER was born.

 

Instead of a 20-page plot outline, I had a 5-page list of ideas, one of which included “but little did they know, all the Shoney’s are run by werewolves.” Instead of following the rules, I broke a few. Instead of painstakingly writing over the course of a year, I giggled my way through the book and had a complete manuscript in five months.

 

The opening chapters did well in contests and caught the eye of an editor, who asked to see the whole thing. That same editor bought the book less than a week after I finished it.

 

I still can’t believe THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER will be an August 2008 release. And just this morning, I was working on the sequel, laughing with the characters and having more fun than I should.

 

While I’m not sure Seinfeld is the best place to go for life lessons, I really do think there’s something to be said for following your instincts – in writing and in everything else. Can you think of a time you’ve taken a different path? Broken out of a pattern and started something new?

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5 Responses to “How I sold my first book”

  1. Carolynn Says:

    Hi Angie

    Your book looks terrific…I can’t wait until it comes out. I’m honored to be your very first commenter—I was referred here by Michelle Rowen’s blog (and you chose well, I dream of the day when she might be willing to blurb my first book!) 🙂

    I’m taking a different path now—I’m about to go part-time at my day job for awhile so I can more fully devote myself to my writing. I might fail but I’m choosing to believe I will succeed. Like the saying goes, you never know until you try.

    Much success to you-and congratulations on your awesome site and your first book!

  2. Angie Fox Says:

    Thanks, Carolynn. I’m glad you stopped by! It was so neat when Michelle agreed to blurb The Accidental Demon Slayer. She didn’t quite understand my excitement because she’s way too modest, but I was thrilled. What can I say? I’m a fan. That’s been one of the neatest things about being published – having an excuse to meet/talk with authors I admire.

    Congratulations to you for having the courage to go after your goals. To succeed, I think you have to put yourself out there. You’ve proven yourself willing. Now all you have to do is follow your instincts and write the book you know you can write.

  3. C. Says:

    That’s such a cool story. I’m glad it all worked out for you!
    I came here after the very helpful advice in the Bookends blog and after reading more on the book (and the first chapter), I can’t wait to see it in stores! It sounds hilarious 🙂

  4. Crystal Says:

    Hi Angie,

    I stumbled upon tyour blog through Bookends Llc’s blog. Great advice. I’m a huge fan of Seinfeld, and never thought about using it for writing advice. Doing the oposite of what your used to doing is great advice. I’ve noticed that my writing is pretty much stuck in my comfort zone, so I’m going to try your method. I’ve been querying agents for months now, and I always get the “It’s a good book, but not one I can represent” rejection, so I’ll be revising my novel soon (while writing another novel).

    I read the first chapter of The Accidental Demon Slayer and can’t wait to read more. It’s going to be great, I can tell. Thanks for the great writing advice. Congrats on your first published book. You make it sound so easy 🙂

  5. Angie Fox Says:

    Crystal, that’s the exact same thing I heard with the mystery I wrote before The Accidental Demon Slayer. “It’s a good book, but I’ll pass for now.” I could have wallpapered my bathroom with those kind of rejections.

    Then an agent I really respect (one that I didn’t query on Demon Slayer because he doesn’t rep paranormal) sent the best rejection letter. He went into detail, telling me how the story wasn’t “big enough.” He said it might even sell, but he hoped it didn’t because he thought I had a better story in me if I just pushed harder and had higher stakes. That was really my “ah-hah” moment that I mentioned on the Book Ends blog.

    It sounds like you’re where I was – on the edge, almost selling. It’s such a hard place to be. But the good news is, you’re almost there. Best of luck on the revisions and the new book. Let me know how the “George Costanza” method works for you.


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