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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Getting Your First Book Deal

Don’t deny it: if you keep working on and finish your novel, and if you keep submitting it to publishers and agents, it’s going to happen. Your book will be published. You will be a novelist, for good. Unassuming strangers will see your book and flip through the pages, and if you’re lucky they’ll buy it. You might find yourself selling more and more copies, earning money for the many hours that you’ve already poured into it while hearing stories of people falling in love with the characters your created.

I have had three novels accepted by publishers at this point. The first two didn’t pull through for different reasons. The third happened only a few days ago, and I’m just starting to come out of the initial daze of seeing my book available on someone else’s site. It’s my NaNoWriMo novel, the one I wrote just last month: The Automaton of Miss Ada Stirling. JukePop, the company that agreed to publish it, publishes stories one chapter at a time in serial format. That means that you only need to submit the first chapter before they decide if they want you or not. So most of the first two weeks after NaNo I spent working on that first chapter, using the editing tools I mentioned earlier and revising it until I was sick of it. Then I submitted it.

I’ve given up on expecting anything from publishers at this point. For the three stories that I’ve had accepted, many more have been rejected. As an acting wannabe, dancer and violinist I’ve also had my share of auditions and audition rejections. It’s just a part of the performing industry: you either have what they want or you don’t. It’s not personal. It’s subjective. So the best thing you can do is put on your best show and have fun while it lasts, and then prepare for the next audition while you await the rejection letter. And yes, those letters do hurt. I get tears in my eyes every time I see an email with the word “sorry” on the first line. I wonder why I keep doing this to myself, sentencing myself to the same biting pain over and over again. But I can’t stop. And on those few occasions when something’s accepted, I feel like I won the lottery.

But getting a book published is much easier to do than winning the lottery. There are more books published every day than anyone can keep up with, more new authors and debuts than there probably should be. If you’ve gotten rejected, that just means that you’re not done submitting. Keep at it, and one day that email will say “congratulations” instead of “sorry,” and you’ll have a book on someone else’s shelf. It’s real. It happens. And you might be next. Happy submitting!

P.S. It seems my best auditions were the ones where I didn’t think I had a shot, where I decided just to go crazy with them because there was no way I’d get in. So feel free to mess around and not be perfect–you never know.



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