Sunday, October 16, 2011

My journey to publication (Part 1)

First, let me very proudly say that I have signed a 3-book deal with Entangled Publishing for my YA sci-fi/dystopian, GRAVITY. This is the PM announcement:

Melissa West's debut GRAVITY, the first book in a dystopian series in which the sixteen-year-old daughter of New America's top military commander must choose whether to believe her country's malicious depiction of the Ancients, or trust the alien she's fallen in love with and betray humankind, to Heather Howland at Entangled, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in Fall 2012 (World).

To say I am excited is an understatement. I am thrilled, shocked, proud, emotional, all those things and more. But the decision has not been an easy one. So let me unpack my journey. Sound okay? Prepare yourself, this is going to be a long one. I'll add in coffee breaks.

I started GRAVITY as a NaNo project (then titled TWISTED ROOT) last year, but was not able to commit the time to get very far into the draft. In January, I decided to really dive in, and by the end of February, I had a draft. I entered Utah's RWA Great Beginnings contest and became a finalist. Everything about this project felt alive, and I admit, I was very hopeful. I spent a few months revising and sending to CPs, and then began querying in May. And it was crazy. At that time, I had about a 75% request rate. I even had an agent call me late at night to discuss the book. Crazy, I know! So yeah, hope skyrocketed to sureness.

Big mistake.

That draft was not even close to ready. I started receiving rejection after rejection, all personalized, many with invitations to see it again or my next work. So in June/July I stopped querying and dove back into the MS, completely rewriting it from scratch. Nothing stayed except the first chapter. I loved the new version, but felt sure it was still lacking something. I sent it off to my CPs, received glowing responses, and submitted the shiny, revised full to the 9 agents waiting to receive it. Yes, 9.

(Coffee break time)

Okay, are you back? Great, thanks. But here’s the thing, something else happened during this process that changed how I wanted to proceed. (Warning -- this is that personal stuff that makes some of you uncomfortable. Feel free to skip if needed.) I found out my father had/has Cancer. My father is my first reader. He is the reason I started writing, and he is the reason I completed the first draft of GRAVITY. He would call or text me daily, requesting word counts until I completed the book. Everything suddenly felt intense for me. I had to get published. I had to. Not for me, not for the money or glory or whatever, but for him.

I started querying harder and had lots of fulls out. But then I stumbled across something else, something I hadn't really considered -- Entangled Publishing, a new, small press that had an amazing vibe. Take into account I am a businessperson. I know business, and as I work for a printer (and previously for a publisher), I also know quite a bit about publishing. I know something good when I see it and felt in my gut that getting in with Entangled would be getting on at the start of something big.

Stay tuned for the rest of my journey. Is Wednesday fast enough? If not I’ll double post today. :o)



  1. Wow, what an incredible journey so far! Since we have the (wonderful) spoiler about your 3-book deal, I first want to say congratulations! But I'm also looking forward to reading the rest of the journey. :-)

  2. Congratulations! I love hearing NaNo success stories! I look forward to hearing more about your journey! :0)

  3. Thank you for sharing this. The story-behind-the-story is interesting for fellow travelers. We know the road.

  4. Congrats! I'm excited to read this story and have had Entangled on my radar, so looking forward to part two of your THE SALE story :)

  5. Kip -- Thanks! I couldn't help but give the spoiler up front. :)

    C.R. -- Thanks! I love NaNo and wish I could participate again this year. Unfortunately I'm in revisions now.

    Mirka -- Thank you! I love reading these sorts of posts too.

    Hannah -- Thanks! Entangled is so amazing as you'll see in my Part 2 post. :)

  6. URGH! Dying to read the rest of your story! I'm so happy for you -- and this is a thrilling tale in itself. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. :)

  7. Thanks, Nikki! I really would never have gotten this far without the BB's! Love Verla's! And Part 2 is up now. :)

  8. Congrats on your sale! That is an amazing journey. That's how I felt about my first book that I ever wrote. Both of my parents helped me write it, and their ideas were in it throughout. So, I felt like I should publish it for them.

    It's a great feeling to get it published!