Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's Miraculous I Ever Sold (Part One).

Soooo... following on from the last post, where I admitted I'd made the discovery of my original manuscript, synopsis, etc during the great clear out of 2009 - here I am back again with the first of your requests for what you'd like to see. It's miraculous I ever sold. And reading back through some of these things makes me realize how ill prepared I really was for submitting compared to some of my forum and blog friends. Anyone read The Bridal Bet? Now remember it was published as a Romance. Where did I pitch it? Modern. Is it a Modern book? Is it heck. So why did I pitch it to Modern? Cos it had sex in it. Yes, I was that naive. Having said that, I also considered pitching it to Temptation (I have the query letter for that too) and it MIGHT have been a better fit there (with work). Thankfully I hit the right desk at the right time in London, the lovely Editor who pulled me from the slush pile could see a Romance line book and out came the sex. It would be almost four years before I had to write a sex scene again with White Hot (aka The Firefighter's Chosen Bride) when I pitched at Modern Extra, which was initially visualized as a replacement for Temptation. It would be almost another two years before that book was released in the USA and Canada as a Presents - the USA version of Modern.

Who says everything in life isn't inter-connected, huh? We all end up where we're supposed to be. My radar was just a little off back in 2001...

Now. A little background. The Bridal Bet was known in my house as Home At Last. I didn't do character casting or collages back then, but I did have a major crush on Harrsion Ford when he was Han Solo, so a lot of Ryan Callaghan came from that. The setting - well, they say write what you know, so it was a place I'd spent ever Summer as a child/teenager in the West Of Ireland. You can Google it. Honest to God you can. And that helped keep it real for me. After that, the bare bones of the story were from one I'd tried to tell when I was eighteen and lacked the life experience for, but it just goes to show I'd done a lot of daydreaming on those halcyon summer days of my childhood (I had my first crush there but that's another story). I didn't have the original draft of it when I came back to it again in 2001, but I remembered it and the characters names, setting, etc, so I re-told it and had a friend read it and make suggestions as I went along. When it was done she said she'd have liked to know more about their past, so I came up with the idea of the flashbacks. The whole process probably took six to eight months. I sent my partial, letter and synopsis in November 2001 and had the request for the full on Christmas Eve. I can honestly say I was never as glad I'd heeded the advice of the folks on the boards at EHarlequin when it came to finishing it before I sent my partial as I was when that request came. If I hadn't finished it first, there was no way I could have had it on that editors desk by the time she came back in the New Year, never mind writing the synopsis...

I also sent it ALL on really nice paper. Cream paper with a nice ripple to it under the fingertips. I've always been a big fan of nice paper. So here's what my letter said and NO LAUGHING FROM THE CHEAP SEATS. What this hopefully goes to show is that it's the writing that sells at the end of the day - even crappy letters and sucky synopses won't get in the way - so STOP STRESSING ABOUT THEM!

Dear Editor,

Having never written a query letter before, I hope you will forgive me if it's not quite in the correct format. My name is Patricia Wylie, though I only ever get called Patricia when I am in trouble with my mother. Everyone knows me simply as Trish, and I am engaged and living in the beautiful Lakeland County of Fermanagh in Ireland.

My friends often used to refer to me as 'the last of the true romantics', as I am such a great believer in the 'meant to be' and the 'soul mate'. But then, as I grew up with two generations of women who watched the Rogers and Hammerstein genre of films I suppose it was inevitable. From as early an age as I can remember, I watched in awe as the handsome men and beautiful women fell in love on screen and hence became a fan of the 'happy ending'. And so it began.
I have been writing in earnest since I turned twelve and have always been happiest when emerged in a new story. Those stories became gifts for my friends as I grew older and even my Primary School Headmaster told my mother it was what I was 'meant to do'.

My mother was the first to introduce me to the Mills And Boon series, as she ordered the books every month and I was an avid reader by my early teens. I can remember when the Silhouette range was released and I was then able to read double the titles each month. Even now, some twenty odd years later, I still consider the greatest luxury to be a new Silhouette Temptation or Mills And Boon, a tub of Haagan Daz ice cream, and an empty house. Bliss.

My first offering is for the Modern line, it's complete, is approximately 53,000 words long and is set in Ireland. The main characters; Molly O'Brien and Ryan Callaghan, have been friends for half their adult lives and the story follows them throughout that time and as they fall in love. I enclose the full synopsis of the story and may I at this point thank you for your precious time.

Yours sincerely,

Trish Wylie

Now of course that letter had my full address and email addy on it as well, but I think we can agree it was pretty basic stuff. The one I have may have been an early draft, I may have tweaked it some, but this is pretty much it. I can remember wanting to get everything I could in, while at the same time keeping it friendly. The synopsis would tell more about the story anyway, and the partial would illustrate my writing. So I really didn't know what else I could fit in without turning it into an autobiography. Though with hindsight, I should really have read more from the lines before I pitched and mentioned I had - maybe even a couple of my favorite authors. I should also have addressed it to the name of the editor who was the head of the line. But since they asked for the full anyway, I guess it's a moot point. It's the story that becomes the book after all. So it's ALWAYS the story that matters...

I'll do the synopsis (short and long versions) in the next day or so. Meanwhile I have a loooonnnggg blog about the building blocks of a story over on IHeart Presents in the next day or so. Will drop a link in here when it's up. It follows the creative process of One Night With The Rebel Billionaire and the varying things that influenced the story and I'll be there to answer comments or questions so please drop by! Meanwhile I'm off to tweak a partial and prepare for the delivery of office furniture... as one does...

ETA: IHeart Presents Blog now up! Pop by and comment and you could win a signed copy of One Night With The Rebel Billionaire :)


Liz Fielding said...

I love your letter, Trish. So absolutely charming that I'd have wanted to buy your book on the spot.

The book that I finally sold was my fourth submission and, after having been turned down for writing stuff that their readers "wouldn't like", I sent a couple of chapters with a rather snappy note asking if they'd let me know if this one was what they wanted before I wasted any more time on it. I blush to think of it now, but the editor whose desk it crossed wanted to see more.

Then she asked me to rewrite the first three chapters. Then asked for a full. Then asked me to rewrite it three times.

As you say -- it was a miracle. But the book is still turning up in foreign reprints seventeen years on. As will The Bridal Bet.

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks Trish! I always love reading sales stories!

Lyn Cash said...

aw - how delightful! :)

I haven't been on the blogs for so long that I wasn't even aware you had a PRESENTS coming out!!! Whoo-hoo, congrats, and all of that jazz. (And early Happy Birthday, since it could be another month or two before I get back in the game.)

Sunny (smoker's porch, San Francisco)

Nina in Ohio said...

I loved your letter, Trish! Thanks for giving us the details of your first sale. Hearing about your forays (and Liz's) into the M&B world gives me hope!

mena said...

Thanks for the letter,Trish. As always, you're sharing is great encouragement and as you know I have a great big soft spot for 'The Bridal bet'.
Thank you too, Liz. It's a real surprise to me that you submitted four times but also a relief in an encouraging way, if you know what I mean.LOL. It tells me not to give up. So thank you.
Take care and happy writing.