Monday, September 8, 2008

My Route to Publication! Part II: Electric Boogaloo.

Okay, so I know I said I would tell the whole story about how I got published last week, I'm a lazy blogger. Also, I got completely sucked into a new series of books last week, so any free time I had was spent frantically reading. Seriously, this book right here?

Sweet, sweet crack. And I'm not a huge fantasy person, which is odd, considering The Husband is a sci-fi/fantasy Geek Extraordinaire. But these Jacqueline Carey books are AWESOME, and remind me a lot of the other fantasy author I love to distraction, George R. R. Martin. So if you're looking for some highly addictive fantasy, with lots of sex and political intrigue thrown in for good measure, check either author out!

Now back to my story, in which not nearly as much happens, but where what DOES happen is extremely awesome!

MARCH 2008:

Super Awesome Agent Holly and I begin discussing some of the edits the book then called Too Near the Glass might need. The first thing to go is the title, which Holly and I agree is a little too heavy for a book that's relatively light. Holly and I toss around various ideas for a couple of days, including my favorite "joke" title. I just realized I can't actually say it here, because it would spoil the entire book, but it was a take off on a Britney Spears song, and once the book is out (only 17 more months! Ha ha!), I will share it with all of you, and lo, we shall laugh merrily.

Anyway. After several titles incorporating word like "hex," "spell," and "witch" are discussed, Holly comes up with Demonglass, and I immediately fall in love with it. It's relevant to the book- there's actually a substance called Demonglass that plays a very important role in the book- and it's kind of sexy and mysterious. Loves it.

Other than the title, we make a few more minor changes. One of Holly's best qualities as an agent- and she has bunches!- is her editorial eye. The changes she wanted were simple, but they improved the book tenfold.

So, changes made, Demonglass waits its turn to go on submission!

APRIL 2008:

Around the second week of April, Demonglass is officially submitted to editors. This is probably the most exciting, if most nerve-wracking, step in the process. Holly sends me a list of the houses she's submitting to, and every name on that list makes me do a happy dance. They are all houses I'd be thrilled to work with, and it's ahrd to imagine even one of them would actually want my little book!

Within a couple of days, we get our first rejection, which is a little disheartening, but unlike those awful form letters you get from agents who reject you, editor rejections are actually pretty nice.

So that rejection happens on a Monday. By Thursday, we have some MUCH better news: a house makes an offer on Demonglass. Then, on Friday, a SECOND house makes an offer. Much rejoicing occurs at Chez Hawkins.

Then things really heat up. After that first offer, Holly lets the other editors know that there's an offer on the table. I kind of expect everyone to say, "Oh, well, good for y'all then, we pass." And a couple of houses do just that. But several of the others say that they also want in on the action. Holly gives them a deadline for the offers, then lets me know that we officially have an auction on our hands.

Now, the idea that ONE house might want Demonglass blows me away. The idea that SEVERAL houses want it and are, like, going to fight for it, is truly shocking. I've said before that writing is a pretty lonely pursuit, and it's a self-doubt filled journey. To have other people love that book that you've slaved over is beyond gratifying!

The days leading up to "A-Day" as we call it are equal parts thrilling and stressful. The Husband and I have many talks about what the end result could be. The main thing both if us want is to get an offer that is large enough to allow me to write full time, with The Husband planning to get back into teaching in the fall. It would also be nice if we could move, since both of us were, by that point, kind of over Huntsville and wanting to move back to Auburn, where we'd both gone to college. The Husband plans on taking a few classes if we're able to move so that he can eventually live his dream, and get out of teaching for good. However, we're both realists, and we know that this is the first book, and the average book advance for a first time author is around $10,000. Nothing to sneeze at, but not exactly quit your day job money!

APRIL 22, 2008:

A-Day. I know Holly has given the houses interested in Demonglass until noon that day to get their offers in. I wake up early, feeling like it's Christmas morning and the first day of school, all rolled into one! In fact, my nerves are so bad that I work out for over an hour that morning, which, if you know me and my aversion to all things exercise, is a major sign of how freaked out I am.

Around 10-ish, I send The Husband to the grocery store, because he is making me crazy as we both wait for the phone to ring. After he leaves, I take a shower, and am in my bathrobe with a towel on my head when I hear my cell phone. It's Holly's ringtone (The Pet Shop Boys' "Opportunities." Hee!)

I answer the phone with shaking hands, and manage to croak out, "Hello?"

And then Holly says the words every author longs to hear: "Are you sitting down?"

I assure her I am. I kind of have to, because my knees ar shaking. Then she says (showing how well she knows me, ha ha!) "You're going to freak out."

"I love freaking out," I reply.

And then she tells me that Hyperion has come in with a pre-empt. She tells me how much it's for multiple books, and then tells me the amount they've offered.

"So that's for 2 books?" I ask, confused.

"No, they want all 3," she answers, which makes me very happy. I'd always planned on Demonglass being the first of a trilogy, so I really wanted a house that would take all 3.

"Wow," I say, my mind reeling. "And that's what they want to pay for all three?"

Holly kind of laughs. "No, Rachel, that's what they're going to pay for each one."

And that's when my stomach drops and I yell, "HOLY SHIT!"

Holly just laughs and says, "Yeah, that's kind of what I said."

After we get off the phone, I immediately call my mom. I tell her. She cries. I cry.

Then The Husband gets home.

I tell him, in the most nonchalant voice I can muster, that the auction is over.

He asks what happened.

Keeping my voice calm, I start to tell him, but by the time I get to the money part, my voice gets all high and loud and I nearly start to cry again.

"You're shitting me," he says, his eyes wide.

Finally, it sinks in, and there is much yelling and jumping and exulting. Not only can I write for a living, but we can move, and The Husband can go back to school full time.

In the course of seven months, we'd gone from being miserable in our jobs, to unemployed and depressed, to achieving the dream.

Needless to say, we immediately got dressed and went out to lunch, and much wine did flow. ;)

MAY-JUNE 2008:

After all the excitement of the deal happening, the next couple of months were kind of boring. My announcement hadn't come out yet, so I couldn't talk about the book. You may remember this as a rather dead time on the blog! By then end of June, I had my contract, which was another highly exciting time. John took pictures of me signing it that I'll post to the blog soon. Then I sent the contract off to Holly, and more waiting ensued.

JULY 2008:

More waiting, until the very end of the month. I am in the car with my mom, on my way to Selma, AL for a wedding, when The Husband calls to tell me that my first check has arrived. I briefly consider telling him to wait to take it to the bank so that I might see it.

I then remember that we are stony broke by this point, and I tell him to hustle that bad boy to the bank ASAP!

AUGUST 2008:

We move to Auburn and there is much rejoicing. I'm especially happy because this means The Husband gets to live his dream, too, and he is a big reason of why I succeeded at my dream. I mean, how many spouses would hand over their retirement fund so that you can write a book? That kind of faith is pretty humbling, and I'm so glad that I got to repay him for it.

Then, as you all know, on August 28th, the announcement finally comes out in Publisher's Marketplace and Publisher's Weekly! And there is much MORE rejoicing!

So there you have it: how, in less than a year, I pretty much dynamited my whole life and started over fresh. As J.K. Rowling herself said, sometimes, rock bottom makes a great foundation for something new!

If there's one thing this whole experience has taught me, it's the importance of taking risks in life. I know now that if grad school hadn't gone KABOOM, and if the place where I taught hadn't become a Black Hole of Suck, I would've gone on my merry little way, being a teacher forever. And it would have been okay. It was a good job, with good benefits, and the pay was far from horrible, despite what you may have heard. But it wasn't what I was meant to do. A lot of people gave me a hard time about not doing student teaching, and cashing in my retirement, saying what would I do if I didn't teach? What would I do when I was 65? Well, I was more concerned with what would I do at 28. While it's important to plan for the future, you can't live there.

Coming up later this week, provided I don't get sucked in by anymore sexy, epic fantasy, I'll be talking in depth about what to look for in an agent, as well as my own writing process. Also, I'm working on building an FAQ for my website, so if there are any questions you'd like to see on that, please feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at


Stephen Duncan said...

Thief! You stole my dream! ;)

That's a fantastic story, Rachel.

And a huge War Eagle to you!!! I went to Auburn too! '94-'96. Majored in Beer. Transferred to UAB. Missed it every minute.

Ronald L. Smith said...

That is truly awesome and inspiring. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your great story. It gives us all hope.

Serenity said...

Awesome story! By the time these books come out I am so using the line, "I have the same agent as Rachel Hawkins." Congratulations. And your message here is brilliant. I had cancer when I was 29, and I definitely look at planning for the future differently now. Yea, it should be considered, especially if you have kiddos, but you have to focus most of all on today. It may be all you get.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Rae!!

Anonymous said...

I saw you over at the 10 ers and liked the premise of your book.

Your road to publication is freaking amazing!!

Thanks for posting it...I always like reading success stories.

Good work!

Maria R

K. M. Walton said...

Prince Balthazar led me to your blog and I am so glad he did. Your journey brought a tear to my eye, literally. It is so close to my life, minus the agent an huge publishing deal parts.


Congrats to you and I wish you outlandish success.

cindy said...

congrats, rachel! you deserve it! i can't wait to read your book! is there a publication date??

Jewel Allen said...

Found you through Prince B., too. What an amazing story! Congratulations.

Jolie said...


Thats all. :P

Just wanted to let you know I was thinking of ya, hon. Hugs...

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Jolene Lucas said...

This was a WICKED inspiring story. Thank you! I lived in Mobile, AL for quite a few years myself so it was refreshing to hear you mention several of my favorite places in Alabama!

Anonymous said...

lovely story, so happy for you. i know my road to being published will probably be quite difficult, but it's so nice to read the inspiring journey of someone who was once in the same boat as me.

Anonymous said...

Your book was amazing. I aspire to be an author and you are one of my greatest inspirations! Keep on writting!

Jessica said...

So, this post says that Demonglass was the first in the trilogy... when did you change that since it's the second?

I can't wait for Spellbound, I love this trilogy!

- Jess

Lillian said...

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I've just found your blog (because you tweeted about signing with Myra McEntire and I'm following her on twitter) and I thought, well, I'll read how she got published. Thank you--thank you for sharing the good and bad parts of your story. I'm at a point where I'm thinking why am I bothering (I work in a public school, too)and, well, now I'm back on the Hope Bus instead of lurking in the It will Never Happen Alley. Thank you. I can't wait to read your new book.

Kelsaki said...

Dear Mrs. Awesome Rachel, you are made of inspiration and amazingness :) I too live in the south, a little town known as Phenix City! I even went to AU for two semesters but now am at a smaller college for nursing.

Truly though, you are inspiring to me because... well lets just say when I read this I immediately said to my mom "I AM NOT ALONE!!!" Because that's just how it feels down in the south when it comes to being a writer (or in my case aspiring writer).

Thank you. Thank you for posting something so inspiring. You have just become another inspiration for me!

Kim Green said...

Great story, well told! Thanks for that. And like you, I'm getting obsessed with agent blogs. Thanks for suggesting a few!

Oh, and my sympathies go out to all Auburnites for the ridiculous, senseless Toomer's Oaks crime. I'm Alabama born, now in Nashville—but I loves me some trees...and it makes me wild with mad when innocent trees get the worst of it.

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Unknown said...

Super inspiring. You're my hero! (Heroine?)

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