“The Call” story

FIRST OFFICIAL: Sale 🙂

So many people have asked for more details, so I’ll share them here.

My publisher is Sourcebooks and my editor is Deb Werksman. Deb and I met at the 2007 National Conference when she had been a Golden Heart judge and LOVED my friend Robin Kaye’s finalling manuscript, Romeo, Romeo. She offered Robin a contract AT National. Robin and I, not knowing a whole heck of a lot about Sourcebooks, went to their Spotlight and were blown away by Dominique Raccah’s (publisher) and Deb’s enthusiasm and publishing history. Robin was thrilled to accept the contract and I was thrilled for her!

What does Robin’s sale have to do with mine? Well, I’ll tell you. Deb hung out with us a lot during National. I got to know her; she got to know me. I had already submitted a time travel to her so that was sitting in her queue. She got to it a few weeks after National, sadly, rejecting it. But that was okay.

Flash forward to October 2007 at the New Jersey Conference. Deb was there. We chatted. She sat at my table for lunch and I proceeded to drag pitches from everyone at our table b/c I knew Deb wanted to hear them (this is why you need to work on that “elevator pitch”/high concept thing so you can do it at a lunch setting). I happened to mention that In Over Her Head was probably going to end up in the Top 5 of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Contest. Deb wanted to know why I hadn’t submitted it to her and I said I couldn’t, according to the rules of the contest, but if it didn’t make it to the Top 5, I’d send it along. It made it to the Top 5.

Life got hectic when it was in the Top 5. I worked that final into agent interest, garnering multiple agent offers (the winner of the contest was guaranteed to be published), and accepting the offer from Jennifer Schober of Spencerhill Associates.

Something to note: one of the final judges for the contest was Sue Grimshaw, Romance Buyer for Borders. I introduced myself to her at a conference after the contest was over (and I hadn’t won) and Sue proceeded to give my story such praise that it stunned me into silence. (If you know me, you’ll know that this feat doesn’t happen all that often. Maybe twice before in my life. Seriously.) She gave me some advice to make the book marketable and I made the change.

I also saw Deb at the Long Island Luncheon where we, again, sat next to each other and I dragged pitches from everyone at the table for her. I also mentioned to someone at the table that I had two partials of the next two Mer stories ready and waiting. Deb jumped – “It’s a trilogy?”

Now, you know, we all hear to only pitch one book. Will an editor really take a chance on three books by a debut author? Here I had an editor asking me about all three when she already had book 1 in her queue. The books are stand-alones, but contain characters that you hear about in the other books, so I mentioned it. She wanted the partials.

My agent sent everything out, and Deb jumped. I remember her words to me were, “Frankly, I’m surprised this hadn’t sold yet.” That makes a writer feel good, let me tell you!

Deb called on Monday that she was taking it into Editorial on Tuesday. I got an email from her IN the Editorial meeting that they wanted it and to have my agent call her, my agent did her agenting thing where it was on submission elsewhere (thank God I had an agent!), and on Thursday, July 17, we accepted the offer.

However, the offer wasn’t just for In Over Her Head. Deb also wanted the rest of the trilogy AND gave me release dates that I only dreamed about.

Now I’m hard at work polishing those other two stories so they sparkle like In Over Her Head. Look for all three books next summer: June, August and October – the perfect beach read since they, ya know, take place at/in the ocean.

In Over Her Head

Whale of a Tail

Catch of a Lifetime

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12 Responses

  1. Can’t wait to read your books! I’m thrilled for you! Thanks for sharing your interesting story about the (long, hard) road to publication.

    Best–Adele Dubois

  2. Judi, there can be no greater thrill than getting that first call. Congrats on your hard work becoming such a success. And three books! Couldn’t get much better. Can’t wait to read all three Mer stories.

  3. Judi, I am so very thrilled for you! And thrilled for myself as well, since I’ll finally be able to hold these wonderful books in my own two hands! Congratualtions! This is so exciting!!

  4. What a great story, Judi! Shows the importance of networking, persistence, and oh yeah, talent.

    Congratulations!

  5. Wow, Judi! You really do know a lot of people in the genre, and it’s paid off for you splendidly. Being a great writer doesn’t hurt, of course. Congrats, again!

  6. Congratulations on your three-book deal. I look forward to reading your books, and I look forward to seeing your name on the bestseller lists!

  7. Wow! Three books? Very cool, Judi, I mean, “Author – Judi Finnel”

    Sincerely – Paul Allen Leoncini

  8. Woohoo!

    Thanks for the details, what a whirlwind romance of your own. It might have taken a bit of time, but wow! YAY!

    I need autographed copies.

  9. Woohoo. Once again. Way to go. Much success. 🙂

  10. Judi,

    Thanks for adding the color to the story about the “call”. These details about all the behind the scenes networking are fascinating and make it clear that getting a 3 book deal didn’t just happen out of the blue.

    I’m very excited for you and look forward to seeing the books on the shelves at our local bookstores.

  11. Judi,
    I’m a little late but I still wanted to wish you, again, congratulations on watching your dreams come true. After all that hard work, effort and focus, you’re going to be an “overnight” sensation! Enjoy! Nothing but good times ahead! 🙂
    Carla

  12. Judi,

    I’m thrilled for you. Validation always feels good and when accompanied with dollars it feels even better.

    You have always stressed networking and I can see why. Knowing various publisher, agents and whatnot doesn’t always end in publication, true, as you showed with the first book being rejected, but it sure helps. I can see why you’re *browbeating* us to join RWA, lololol!

    I wish you the best, my friend!

    ~Sia~

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