I wrote Glass Houses in 2010 and thought it was an absolutely brilliant memoir. My first choice agent rejected the manuscript. Then I tried a small gay publishing house that also turned it down. Solid in my conviction that the manuscript was perfect, the problem had to be with the blurb, synopsis, and query letter. I joined a local writers group for help.
In the next few months I learned enough to see that my memoir had a lot of technical problems. I decided to set it aside until I could figure out a way to fix the major structural issues. Leaving it behind was okay. Writing the memoir changed me in a lot of ways, with one of the more notable changes being the confidence in my writing ability that came from finishing it.
Early last year I started my first novel. The working title was Addicted, and the story was supposed to be about a guy who was addicted to relationships. It might have been semi-autobiographical. Sorta. In the beginning anyway. Even with several extremely graphic sex scenes, the lack of any conflict or tension made for a well-written but boring read.
Adding a love interest and a misunderstanding to keep them from getting together helped. But there wasn’t a compelling reason to care whether they ended up together or not. The other writers said the story needed more tension and conflict. So I added a serial killer. The story I ended up writing was nothing like my original idea. Everyone agreed Addicted no longer worked as a title. After thinking about it for weeks, Addicted became Until Thanksgiving.
The first query resulted in an almost immediate request for a full manuscript from a publisher that only sells ebooks. The rejection came as a shock, with comments that made me think I should just throw the damn thing away and start over. The editor never replied to my follow-up email asking if she’d be interested in seeing a revision. It was that bad.
I couldn’t stomach the idea of setting aside another manuscript. Until Thanksgiving wasn’t perfect, but the writing was a lot better than the memoir. Even though I was absolutely certain they would send me rejection notices, I sent the manuscript to three publishers. They rose to the top of my list because they published gay romance thrillers and allowed simultaneous submissions (most require exclusive submissions). It was a shot in the dark.
Honestly, I didn’t hold out much hope. The world is full of really good writers who never get a contract. I’ve heard tales of publishers receiving tens of thousands of manuscripts every year with maybe a couple of hundred ever making it into print. Most famous authors received dozens of rejections, even hundreds. My manuscript didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. At least having it out for consideration wasn’t setting it aside for later.
A story I heard yesterday on NPR gave me just the tiniest little bit of hope. Romance fiction is a multibillion dollar industry and the fastest growing of any genre because various ethnic groups are coming out with their own. The reporter didn’t mention it, but the same is also true for LGBT and other non-ethnic groups. Christian romances are big, too. At least I ‘m in the right genre.
Last night, at exactly 8:03 p.m. Eastern, I received an email from one of those three publishers–the biggest long shot of the three–offering me a contract for Until Thanksgiving! She had the electronically signed contract back from me within minutes. The publisher is Dreamspinner Press. And instead of just an ebook, they’ll do a trade paperback and maybe an audiobook. How cool would it be to listen to my own book when I run?
An audiobook would be amazing. That there will be an actual book to read (instead of just an ebook) is what thrills me the most. Call me old fashioned, but I want something I can hold on to, curl up with, and/or leave in the bathroom. An ebook just doesn’t do that for me. The real issue, however, is that I can’t autograph an ebook.
Right now, all I know is that Until Thanksgiving will be published. I have no idea when the release date will be. An email message explained that I was in the queue for all the things that have to happen to turn my document into a book and that it will be a while before my turn rolls around.
That’s okay. I can wait. My dream came true at 8:03 last night. That’s when I became a writer.
It wouldn’t have happened without the encouragement, support, and brutal honesty of the Unicorn Robot Cult. You know who you are. I love you all. I also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Terri Clark, Susan Sims, and Pam Blevins who read all 743 drafts of Until Thanksgiving. Many other friends provided interesting and useful feedback that helped me to push through the walls that always pop up on big projects.
So you don’t need to send me that check for a dollar. Instead, buy my book. Judging from the titles currently available from Dreamspinner, the paperback will be about fifteen bucks. You’ve got plenty of time to save up, so no excuses. I’ll keep you posted right here on…
My Glass House