Goals, research, rewrites, pitching — you need to do a lot of work not only to create your novel, but to know where it fits into the market. Today I’m exited to have author and Sub It Clubber MJ Greenway here to share her writing journey and how she connected with her publisher to find a home for her debut new adult contemporary romance novel, DATING MAGGIE.
How I Got My First Contract by MJ Greenway
Writing a book had been on my bucket list for some time. With a significant birthday approaching, I decided to write and submit something to publishers before my next birthday. I’ve always enjoyed a good love story and I read that romance was a hot genre…so I decided to write a New Adult Contemporary Romance.
In my twenties I was single and living in LA. That seemed like a good starting point for a story. At the same time, The Bachelor was on and featured a good looking farmer deemed “Prince Farming” and that gave me the idea to have the hero be a farmer. But then I realized that rancher and cowboy sounded sexier than farmer.
As I wrote, I went to the library and loaded up on romance novels. I also read books on how to write a novel and researched publishers. After two months of writing, I had a first draft. I had really finished it…if only I’d known how much more work was to come!
Then I revised and gave it to a few beta readers. I wrote a query and synopsis and submitted to some small publishers and some Big 5 e-publisher imprints. My book was on the shorter side word count wise so I knew it wouldn’t be the right fit for most agents. I did sub to one and she got back to me right away with a no thanks. At least I didn’t have to wait. Any answer is better than no answer, I realized.
After waiting two months some rejections and a revise and resubmit had trickled in. I was working on revisions when I learned about upcoming Twitter pitch contests in the Sub it Club Facebook group. The group and Heather’s blog have been such a helpful source of support in this subbing journey. I read about #Pit2Pub and noticed that there were publishers listed that I had not submitted to yet.
It was serendipitous timing as my re-writes were just wrapping up. It seemed like an amazing opportunity to try a second round of submissions with 140 characters. I had participated in #PitMad and another Twitter contest for picture book submissions so this time I had a better feel for what to expect. I wrote variations on the same pitch.
I tried to have a thick skin and pitched my NA contemporary romance, Dating Maggie. At the end of the day, my pitch received eight favorites from small publishers. I was thrilled!
This was the pitch: A hot rancher threatens to turn an actress/dating vlogger’s world upside down. #Pit2Pub # NA #R.
I researched the publishers that starred my pitch and decided to submit to three of them. This is was an important step because not every small press is created equal. I was also waiting to hear from a publisher that was looking at my R & R that I’d submitted before I participated in #Pit2Pub.
Limitless Publishing requested a full a few days after my submission and a contract not long after that. The other publisher said they would need more time to review my revised MS before making a decision. I was happy with the Limitless contract and let the other publisher know that I had signed with another publisher. Their covers were what really won me over. Wicked by Design created mine and I loved it. Readers have also commented on how much they like the cover.
Now Dating Maggie is a real book! Some positive reviews are starting come in and I’m getting to interact with readers, which has been so much fun.
I’m also learning to market, keep writing and approach my writing as a serious business. To that end, I just published a romantic mystery novella entitled, Sarah Starting Over. And I co-wrote a contemporary romance with my writing partner that we recently submitted to a variety of traditional publishers. Now we wait with our fingers crossed, the hardest part.
To be honest, I’m impatient and thin skinned. It makes a career as an author, a challenging fit. Despite that, I still encourage those of you just beginning on your submissions journey to hang in there. It’s hard to contain the joy of holding a book full of your own words in your typing-weary hands.
MJ Greenway is the author of Dating Maggie and Sarah Starting Over. Her great passions have always included reading and writing. When not engaged in one of those past times, she enjoys baking, walks and time spent with friends and family. She writes-in a room of her own-under the clouds of the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes her husband and son pop in to check on her. Learn more about MJ at: http://mjgreenway.blogspot.com/ Follow her on Twitter @AuthorJGreenway. You can also find her on Goodreads and add her books to your list!
Congratulations! Your story makes it sound much easier that it really is. You did a great job and your cover is beautiful.