This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
For the last few years, I’ve read ‘How I Got My Book Deal” posts with broad smiles (and occasional sniffles). The lucky person in question was clearly so awesome and talented. How wonderful to have done everything right. Me? I was straight up faking it. Yes, I sat down to write every single day, but never quite believed actual strangers would read my actual words. Sure, I dreamed of the moment, and desperately wanted it to be true, the same way I clung to the idea of Santa Claus being real.
During June 2013, I completed my first book, a historical romance, and my super star agent and I brainstormed future projects. I made an off-the-cuff reference about how my exchange semester to Australia changed my life (and yielded me a husband). I was surprised there weren’t many study abroad stories in New Adult. She went quiet for a second and said, “Why don’t you go play with that idea?” I got to work, and a few weeks later sent her three chapters and a synopsis. Here’s a rough transcript of our next conversation.
Agent: Lia, I couldn’t sleep last night because of this book.
Me: Woo hoo! Wait, did it give you nightmares?
Agent: No, no. I loved it! But I don’t know what to do with you.
Me: I don’t know what to do with me either.I kept writing the book while she shopped the proposal. I’ve never been published. I ranked my chances of selling between slim to none. Still, I had a blast. Some days I’d think everything on the page was knee-slapping hilarious. Other days a crazy-eyed absinthe-swilling monkey clearly hijacked my brain. I wrote “the end” while visiting family in Michigan six weeks later.
The next day my agent rang and said an editor at Grand Central read the first chapters and wanted to acquire three books for their Forever line. I reacted like any professional and promptly jumped into the lake with all my clothes on. Okay, there were also tears, both of the excited kind, and the OH MAH GAWD, DEADLINES! I AM SO SCARED variety.
Looking back on that crazy time, I’m grateful to have been open to taking new directions and embracing unanticipated possibilities. Sometimes it’s really great just to take a leap of faith and say yes. Writing should scare the author a little. Personally, my work comes from a slightly shaky psychological place that wobbles between fun and terror. Even though nerves still dog me, I hope never to lose my enthusiasm or gratitude for doing this work. Here’s to plenty more “jump in the lake” days to come!
Sideswiped by Lia Riley is out now.