So, if you follow me on YA Muses, Twitter or the Blueboard, you might have heard that I got my first book deal, and my second, all in the same day. How did this happen? I'm still trying to figure it out, but near as I can tell social networking and conferences had a lot to do with it. And while a personal connection won't sell a book by itself, it can open the door to unexpected opportunities.
Circa April 2010: I had just signed with Sarah Davies with my very first novel, a Celtic YA paranormal called BANDIA, involving forbidden love and hot guys with no shirts. We were discussing a pretty major rewrite when I attended my local SCWBI conference in Rocklin, CA. Unbeknownst to even Sarah, I had started a second novel while I was querying BANDIA, the book that would become SPIES & PREJUDICE, a Veronica Mars style retelling of Pride & Prejudice. I submitted the first fifteen pages of SPIES for a conference critique, and through luck of the draw, I drew Flux editor Brian Farrey. Brian approached me at a break and when I wasn't hyperventilating, I think I heard him say that he really liked my writing voice and would love to see the whole manuscript for SPIES. I told him the book wasn't finished, but that I had a paranormal I was revising with Sarah. Brian and Sarah talked, and we made sure he was on the submission list for BANDIA.
Fast forward to May 2010: I was fumbling around on Twitter when I found editor Elizabeth Law (@egmontgal) on an #askagent thread. I started following her and happened to catch a tweet about an off-Broadway show called Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson that she enjoyed. Oddly, my husband and I had once joked about writing a musical about James K. Polk and had even written a few bars of a song about Manifest Destiny, so I sent a reply to Ms. Law asking about the AJ show. She replied with the details, and my husband and I got tickets to see it a few weeks later when we were in NYC. When I got back to CA, I let Elizabeth know that we'd seen it and really enjoyed it. We exchanged some Tweets over the summer as I rewrote BANDIA, and I continued to follow Elizabeth, learning that we liked a lot of the same books and that she really seemed to care about YA and MG books.
August/September 2010: BANDIA, all revised and on submission for just over a week, got an amazing offer from Brian Farrey. A multiple book offer, with options for even more books featuring the characters from BANDIA. I was over the moon. I'd met Brian and heard him speak. I knew Flux would be a good home for my books, and that it wouldn't flinch at some of the edgier aspects of BANDIA. And one of my favorite YA authors is Simone Elkeles, whose LEAVING PARADISE is with Flux. (Congrats to Simone for hitting the NYT list last week with the sequel, RETURN TO PARADISE).
But we still hadn't heard form Egmont. And I was torn. Because I really wanted to work with Elizabeth too. So when Elizabeth called Sarah to talk about BANDIA, somehow it came up that she wanted to see my other projects. SPIES had been put on the back burner while I revised BANDIA, but I sent over the partial manuscript. Two hours later, I was on the phone with Elizabeth, who was even more delightful in person. We had an offer on SPIES that same afternoon.
But could I really do both deals?
Sarah immediately started talking timelines and delivery dates, and it soon became clear that the timing would work out so that, yes, it was definitely doable.
And so I get the best of all worlds. I get to work with the two editors that I connected with on my own, in completely unrelated ways. I have no doubt that these personal contacts went a long way to getting Flux to read and offer on BANDIA so quickly, and Egmont to dig a little deeper to discover SPIES. But none of it would have happened if I didn't have a wonderful editorial agent like Sarah, who helped me turn BANDIA into something marketable and went above and beyond to get me my first deal and my second. On the same day!
If you haven't seen them, here are the announcements from Publishers Marketplace:
Talia Vance's debut SPIES AND PREJUDICE, pitched as Veronica Mars meets PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, in which a teenage private investigator goes undercover to discover that the mother she thought was dead is actually in the witness protection program, and the guy she was determined to hate is the one person who can save her life, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she thought she knew about herself, her family, and love, to Elizabeth Law at Egmont, for publication in Spring 2012, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).
Talia Vance's BANDIA, rooted in Celtic mythology, a story of forbidden love, as a girl discovers too late that she's descended from a deadly Irish goddess, having accidentally bound her soul to the hot guy whose tribe is sworn to destroy her; falling for the one boy it would kill her to love, and with her survival depending on his death, she must find a way to break the power of her dark inheritance, to Brian Farrey at Flux, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2012 and Fall 2013, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).
And now I need to stop bouncing off the walls and get to work. I have deadlines :)