The Second Time Around

My second book What Would Emma Do? has hit the shelves a mere 11 months after my debut Unpredictable.

More than a few people have said to me: “Wow! Two books right in a row. Your career is moving so fast! You’re so lucky!!” It is at this point that I try to avoid choking on my own tongue or braying hysterical laughter in their face.

Fast? Really?

I finished writing Unpredictable in 2004. Remember 2004? The economy was still good. The NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars. Facebook was founded; just think what you did with all your time before then! John Kerry was the democratic candidate for president. We’re talking ancient history.

2005 was the year I landed my agent, and we sold the book in January 2006. Celebrations ensued: I was ON MY WAY! Look out Oprah – I’m coming! Unpredictable was scheduled to come out in 2007.

A few months before my release my publisher decided to change the cover and push back my release date by a full year. Our house was not a pretty place to be when this news hit. I was crushed. I couldn’t figure out why it was happening to me. Around this same time the chick-lit market hit rock bottom. My publisher told me they weren’t interested in my option book. They liked it, but the market wasn’t there. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d spent a year writing that book.

My glorious publishing career, washed up before my first book even hit the shelves. My agent (who should be knighted for services going above and beyond) told me to pull up my big girl panties and stop whining. She suggested I write something else. Find a new genre. Move on. So I did. I started reading YA and was impressed with what was out there. I thought YA would work well with my voice and style. I started another book.

That book would become What Would Emma Do? which eventually landed with Simon Schuster and a great new editor. Meg Cabot, one of my favorite authors, gave it a blurb and Jacqueline Mitchard compared me to Judy Blume.

Look at me: an overnight success.

When people tell me that things in my career are moving fast, they would be wrong, but they would be right about one thing. I am very lucky. The journey hasn’t always been as I imagined it (I am still waiting for Oprah to call, and thus far the New York Times List has eluded me) but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

My publishing advice? Keep writing. Don’t give up. You never know where it will lead you.

9 Replies to “The Second Time Around”

  1. Oh, shoot. Oprah totally called my house to ask for your email address but I couldn’t think of it. Eileen at… something something? Eileen at Bob Cook’s Lady dot com?

    All kidding aside, no matter what genre or category you write in, I will always line up to buy your books because you are hilarious. And a wonderful person on top of it all. Congratulations, Eileen!

  2. Congratulations, Eileen! I absolutely LOVED Unpredictable and got a call from my local bookstore yesterday that WWED is finally in! I can’t wit to devour it BEFORE I give it to my 14-year-old daughter. And I have a feeling that option novel will find a home yet.

  3. Katie- ah ha! I knew Oprah must be trying to reach me.

    Eve- I hope you like this one as much as Unpredictable.

    Tiffany- I am coming to believe that being flexible is key to surviving publishing.

  4. “Don’t give up” is probably the simplest and best writing advice there is. I’m sure all of us have many “give up” points where we could have pushed ourselves back from the keyboard forever and no one would have blamed us for it. Yet, we kept going, because we’re stubborn or demented or maybe both.

    Congratulations on WWED and may you take the YA world by storm!

  5. congrats and thanks for sharing your journey. It’s tough out there and it’s so nice to hear success stories, however they come.

  6. Thanks for coming back to the ball to announce your new book! Sounds terrific.

    Overnight successes usually have a long story and a lot of hard work behind them–thanks for sharing yours.

  7. Although I may know your story by heart, Eileen, it still brings a smile to realize how you earned that success. The unpredictable Sophie warmed my heart yet Emma has definitely stolen it. You don’t need Oprah — heavens, she’s been “duped” again –, just keep writing and readers will come!

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