The Kismet-Filled True-Tale of How I Sold My Novel

 

This week on The Debutante Ball we are talking about our book sales and being on submission.

The story of the sale of THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING involves a fair amount of serendipity.

It was the spring of 2010. I had been working on my novel off and on for about eight months when I decided to sign up for my first writers’ conference, GrubStreet’s The Muse and the Marketplace. I had only forty or so pages under my belt, and I was struggling to take myself seriously as a writer. When I learned that for an additional fee you could have a one-on-one consultation with an editor or an agent, it sounded like the perfect opportunity to get some professional feedback and to find out if this novel was something I should keep pursuing. I understood that without having a finished manuscript I wasn’t ready to meet an agent, so I focused on the list of editors, which is where I first learned about Pam Dorman.

Of course, I already knew Pam’s work. I had been devouring the novels that she edited and published for years without noticing that she was the thread that connected them. The Secret Life of Bees! The Deep End of the Ocean! Bridget Jones Diary! When I read her amazing list of accomplishments I quickly checked the box next to her name on the registration form, emailed twenty pages of my novel and crossed my fingers.

The volcanic ash cloud kept Pam from being able to attend the conference in person, but we spoke over the telephone. I was stunned when she told me she had liked what she had read. I was so surprised that if it weren’t for the notes I took while we were talking I am sure I would have blanked out the whole conversation! She was incredibly kind and encouraging, and she asked me to keep in touch and to let her know how the book was progressing.

Fast-forward three years.

That’s how long it took me to finish my first draft. During this time I would periodically make myself write to Pam and let her know how I was doing with the manuscript. Writing these notes was horribly embarrassing. There is nothing worse than writing to an editor you admire to let her know that Nope-still haven’t finished that novel… But I knew that I would never forgive myself if I just let the connection fade. Knowing that Pam had seen something in my pages spurred me on when I was tempted to give up writing and devote all of my free time to eating popcorn and watching Project Runway. I returned to her encouraging words again and again as I pushed myself to finally finish the damn draft.

Pam was the one of the first people I told when I was accepted into GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program. Finally some real news to report! I had finished my first draft AND anticipated being finished revising by the end of the program.

One year later, in the winter of 2014, the night I finished the final revision of THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE–two hours after I hit “save” and closed my laptop, to be exact–I received an email from Pam. She had just finished editing a novel she had acquired from another Novel Incubator alum (Patty Park’s wonderful RE: JANE) and wondered how my revision was going, and said she would like to read it when it was ready…

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this story would end with Pam Dorman publishing my novel. Pamela Dorman Books purchased THE CITY BAKER”S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING in March of 2015, and it’s scheduled to be published in summer of 2016. It has been an extraordinary year, and I am so excited about the year to come.

So my advice to you, dear writing friends, is to dream big, work hard, show up, and take some chances. One spontaneous decision to sign up for a class or go to a conference just might make your dreams come

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Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at louisemillerauthor.tumblr.com.

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Author: Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at louisemillerauthor.tumblr.com.

11 Replies to “The Kismet-Filled True-Tale of How I Sold My Novel”

  1. Another inspiring story! Amazing what a few encouraging words can do to sustain a writer along the way (especially when they come from the likes of Pamela Dorman!).

    And great shout out to the amazing Grub Street and their Muse & Marketplace Conference.

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