Thursday, March 12, 2015

Other Authors on Learning of Their First Book Sale

James O. Born

I persuaded some of my friends to provide their accounts of what it was like when they learned of their first sale.

Micheal Haskins, the author of the Mick Murphy series set in Key West.

With the help of Jerry Healy, I had just sold my first story to EQMM in 2007. Local Keys writer Tom Corcoran had been a friend and read my manuscript for "Chaisin' the Wind," around the same time, and had me over to his house to go through it. I changed the opening of the first chapter, on Tom's suggestion, and did a little rewrite, also his suggestion and sent it out to a small press, Five Star.

I received a letter from Five Star saying they'd received the manuscript and would get back to me within six months. A month later, when checking my PO box, I received a letter and contract from Five Star saying they wanted the book. There aren't words to describe that feeling as I read the letter and then the contract. I walked out of the post office feeling like a million dollars, a feeling that has eluded me since, even when receiving contracts for other books. 
I had all these feelings of excitement and  happiness penned up inside so I called my daughter Seánan and shared the good news. I had considered sharing the news with strangers, kissing pretty girls, and singing, but I think I made the right choice in calling my daughter. I still call her with good news. I have never been able to carry a tune and my wife discourages me from kissing pretty girls, strangers or not.

The next best feeling to receiving the contract was receiving my ARCs and seeing my name on a cover of a book I wrote! My thoughts as I put the ARC away where to say to myself, "So, I showed Mr. Carlin what's what!" Mr. Carlin was my high school English teacher that grade me with Ds all through high school.

Patrick Kendrick
author of Extended Family
and Papa's Problem, a Florida Book award Winner

My first book, Papa's Problem, an historical mystery, was published by a small publisher, BlueWater Press. It was a trade paperback-not even an e-book- and it would not get the fanfare or marketing that
a novel from a big publisher would get. But, that didn't matter. I was, finally, getting published and they agreed to let me have a shot at the cover art. The process of editing seemed  to take forever to an anxious author who had written several manuscripts but never managed to get any of them published. Now, I had a shot and I felt like I was holding my breath for the months we went through revisions.
    When I received the ARC's and saw and held MY BOOK, in my hands, I was overcome with emotion. My mother always believed in me as a writer and had read the manuscript for Papa before she died, but it was years before it was actually in print and I remember wishing she'd seen it. When the book won the Florida Book Award in 2008 and I was invited to the awards ceremony with my family, the pride my mother would've shared with me was there in the presence of my wife and two sons. In my speech to the Florida Book Awards committee and other award winners, I promised my sons I would write something they could read-my novels are too adult for them-and I am finally making good on that promise with my first young adult book, The Savants, coming out this summer from Suspense Publishing. They, too, are a smaller press. I have been published with big publishers, Thomas & Mercer for my second book, and my next  thriller, Acoustic Shadows, will be published by Harper Collins in June, but nothing will ever match that first book, the promise it suggested and the promise it delivered.

Zoë Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox crime thriller series and THE BLOOD WHISPERER

I’d just finished a photoshoot over in the northeast of England when my then-agent rang. We were driving back across country and had stopped for fuel. I had to grab my mobile and keep well away from the pumps in order to take the call, for fear of causing a stray spark that would have blown us all to pieces. The advance wasn’t worth the risk. Still, at least I would have gone out with a bang.

Alafair Burke is the bestselling author of ten novels

Ever have one of those dreams where you replace your boss, win a Porsche, or find an undiscovered suite in your house?  Hearing that your book will be published feels sort of like that. And then you realize you're supposed to write another one, and you go right back to work. 

Bob Morris, bestseller author of the Zach Chasteen series.

I was walking down the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas when I first got the idea for a series of mysteries set in Florida in the Caribbean. I went back to my hotel, wrote what became the first chapter of the first book, and then flew back to Florida and quit my job as a magazine editor. It was a good job. I had money in the bank.

I did not seek wise counsel from my lovely wife. When I returned home, I told her I had just quit my job.

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“I’m going to write mystery novels,” she said.

She gave me a look that only a wife can give a husband who has gone bat-shit crazy.

“Do you realize we have two kids in college?”

There were a lot of things I didn’t realize, actually. And soon I didn’t have money in the bank. But my lovely wife didn’t leave me.

It took me six months to write the first novel, and then another six months — after 28 rejections — to find an agent who would represent me.

When I got the call from my agent that he had signed me to a three-book deal, I was back in the Bahamas, staying at that same hotel, along that same beautiful beach, this time with my wife. I hung up and told her the news. She hugged me and she cried. Yeah, I mighta cried a little, too. She’s a helluva wife. Then we ordered room service champagne. Much happiness ensued.

I still don’t have any money in the bank.


  1. I also remember where I was when I got the call from my first agent: Alexandria, Minnesota, visiting relatives. Other dates stick in my mind, which is now wondering back to those days. Thanks for this, James O.

  2. James O. Born3/12/2015 1:17 PM

    Patty, your complete story is coming next week.