It’s Official… I Did It!

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement, fear, anxiety, angst, and overwhelming joy all rolled into one enormous feeling of upheaval. Why? Because I landed a publishing deal for my novel MARRED!!!

happydance

Now that the legal issues are out-of-the-way, the contract signed and sent back, I can finally share the news. MARRED will be released this fall.

And it terrifies me.

The world will see my words, experience my story.

What if no one likes it? What if readers shred me in reviews? What if it doesn’t sell?

These are real fears, albeit probably foolish ones. I have to wonder if other authors feel this way, too. Not many talk about this aspect of publishing. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want potential readers to know. Whatever the reason, I believe admitting that I’m human with real fears about failure is just being honest. How can that be a bad thing? Actually, I feel a little better saying it out loud writing it.

victims

When I started taking my writing seriously I had one specific goal in mind, to find an agent and get traditionally published by a large house. I stuck to that goal until it blinded me. Because when you have your heart set on one specific way to get published you tend to shut out other opportunities. Looking back, I realize how one-sided this line of thinking was. In today’s publishing world there are many ways to turn your dreams into reality. Don’t be like me and waste years on only one path. Branch out, consider your options.

Which is exactly what I did this year. Instead of querying agents I decided to go direct to publishers, a frightening venture indeed. I sent my manuscript to four publishers. If you decide to go this route here’s what you need to keep in mind: agents do NOT want a manuscript that’s been “shopped around”. Meaning, if you send your manuscript to every small and medium press and then get rejected, you’ve effectively tied their hands. Very few debuts get picked up by one of the Big Five. I think the statistics show 1% out of 100. You have a better shot of winning the lottery. Which is why agents look at these small to medium presses as great alternatives.

Does this mean you shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. Just don’t close your eyes to other options, like I did.

I sent my manuscript to my top three choices and to one imprint I’d never heard of (still don’t know who they are). And then — BAM, an offer. By email. As I read and reread the email I kept waiting for the word “unfortunately” to pop up, certain I had missed it along the way.

Hearing about a team of editors who LOVED my story nearly knocked me off my chair.

I glanced up at my husband, Bob, who was on his way upstairs. “Honey, I think I just scored a publishing deal.”

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He twirled back to me. “What? How?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Remember when I told you I was sending out a few submissions to test the waters? Well, one of them already wrote back. They said they loved my story. A whole team of editors loved my story.”

“What do we do? Ask for a contract?”

“It’s here. Now. Along with all kinds of other stuff, including a sheet for the Cover Art Department asking me for my input; how I want the cover to look.”

Bob didn’t move, shock registering on his face. A pause. And then his brow furrowed with confusion. “But I thought you’d get a call.”

“Me too. And fireworks, a marching band, a plane skywriting the news above our house.”

“Maybe you should read the contract before we get too excited.”

He was right. And so I did.

Moments later, an unintentional shriek escaped from somewhere deep inside me. “It’s true! I’m officially a published author!”

Hooping and hollering ensued.

Next, came the writing of emails to ask advice from other authors I respect who’ve been through this process, followed by running outside to tell the neighbors (we live on a mountain with two other houses so we’re all extremely close).

I then buckled down, went over all the material my new publisher sent and wrote letters to the other houses thanking them for their time. I was now committed. This was it. My dream was becoming a reality right before my eyes.

Sue Coletta, Published Author.

It seemed too good to be true. Something must be wrong… that little bugger self-doubt creeping in, again.

Now came the hard part… I couldn’t tell anyone. Not until I had signed the contract, the deal official. Although, if someone happened to cross paths with me during that period, virtually or in person, I felt compelled to share my news, but swore them to secrecy. A few friends who’d been fighting along with me, down this road called “the traditional path into publishing”, got an email too.

awesome

A release this fall is extremely quick, even for a small press. For some reason, that I am trying very hard not to question, the publisher had a few spots open for their fall release and want to include MARRED. To complete everything in time will be a lot of hard work, but hey, that’s nothing new. I worked three straight years without ever taking time off, even a half-day. That’s how focused I was in achieving my dream; it meant everything to me. Still does.

Without missing a beat, I set a new goal, a new dream, one I will work just as hard for, if not harder. In my opinion, this is one of the many aspects that’s so great about this whole writing gig. You never know everything; there’s always more to learn, strive for, look forward to, a focal point to zero in on. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it a gazillion more times. Set a goal and then rejoice when you accomplish it. The more small goals you achieve along the way to your big dream the more confidence you build. In theory.

This is a huge win for me. Now it’s time to work toward my next goal, and the next, and the next. It’s a never-ending cycle that ebbs and flows as your craft reaches new heights.

No other business that I’m aware of can say that, just as no other group is as supportive as the writing community. Without all of you, I could never have made it this far. You’ve been my rock when rejections stung, my cheering section when I achieved small successes, and my inspiration when I felt like I should hang up my keyboard. Writers are the most caring, generous people in the world, and I feel blessed to be part of this community.

brill

Before I let you go enjoy the rest of your weekend, I wanted to also let you know that I bought a new domain for this site: www.suecoletta.com. Crimewriterblog.com will still work too. I’ve heard horror stories about successful authors who couldn’t buy their own name because others bought all the sites to profit on their success, writing posts, selling books, basically posing as that author. So before I ever sell one book I wanted to make sure this could never happen to me.

I’m sure I’ll share what I learn as I work with the editors, artists, etc., and show you my cover once it’s available. This is such an exciting time in my life. I never thought I’d be so happy to do the little things, like updating my PayPal to a business account to sell books at signings, conferences, and the like. If you haven’t experienced it yet — it’s awesome!

I’m riding this high for as long as possible. I even took most of the day off yesterday. It felt so weird being away from my keyboard.

happy ny

Ready or not, here I come!

112 Comments

  1. WOOHOO!!! Congrats, Sue! This is so well deserved!!!
    -Adam

  2. That is absolutely brilliant, Sue. Great news. Congratulations!

  3. Brilliant news! Congratulations, Sue, on what I’m sure is just the beginning of a wonderful writing career. Cheers!

  4. Big Congrats! What an amazing feeling! 🙂

  5. Sue, This is wonderful news. Congratulation! I know you worked hard for this day. Couldn’t happen to a nicer author. : ) I’m so happy for you.

    • Thank you, Robin! It’s such an exciting time. And this community… they’ve absolutely blown me away with the comments. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by such awesome people, yourself included. I received two emails from my new publisher today, welcoming me aboard, folding me into their family, and I’ll tell you, between that and the responses I’ve gotten from other writers and friends, it’s made my entire day, week, month, year… fill in the blank.

  6. Robin Adair | Life Coaching

    Oh sweet Suzy-Q! I just read your post (and all the supportive loving comments) and it all made my eyes watery! I am beyond thrilled for you, but I am even more insanely PROUD of YOU! (Please excuse my caps – but I am excited!) 😉 You set your goals, aimed high, never looked back, and through all of your hard work and dedication – YOU made it happen! “Sue Coletta, Published Author” – yes, it certainly has an amazing ring to it! Now if I can just stop being such a scardey-cat, maybe I’ll be able to get you to sign my copy after I buy it! So excited for you, Bob, and the fur-babies – much to celebrate! Looking forward to the continued updates. Love you! Big MUAH! P.S. Your Mum and Jacqui would be SO proud, I know they are both looking down smiling at you! <3 ~ Rob

    • Thanks, Rob! It’s been quite an amazing ride, and the comments bring tears to my eyes too. In this book the murder scenes might give you nightmares, but you’ll probably enjoy the psychology in the MO. They don’t call it a psychological thriller for nothing. 🙂 Now the main character’s inner struggle — that’s right up your alley.

      I do wish Mom and Jacqui were here, that’s one of the first things I told Bob. As you say, I’m sure they’re smiling down on me. <3 Love you too, Rob!

  7. Congrats, Sue. Exciting indeed! I am sure you are soaring on Cloud Nine! 🙂

  8. I was reading this, and thought of you. I hope you end up with the keys to the city in no time, though 🙂

    http://alanamunroauthor.com/2015/06/07/guest-post-im-a-published-author-but-no-one-in-my-family-cares/

  9. Congratulations! I hope it all goes smoothly for you.

  10. Congratulations! I’m really happy for you! 🙂

  11. Congratulations, Sue!!! You deserve this more than any writer I know, and I can’t wait to help spread the word about Marred. I’m doing cartwheels for you here in Colorado!

  12. Congratulations, Sue! Such wonderful, inspiring news!!

  13. Wow! Congratulations, this is great news, you must be so excited! Enjoy your success, you sound like a hard working person who has earned it!

  14. Woo hoo – Thanks for sharing your exciting, wonderful news!
    As for your “probably foolish ones” comment, I’ve read Marred excerpts, so I can tell you for sure they’re definitely foolish fears 😀

    • Aww, thanks, Nicholas! Always the sweet one, you are. I’m blown away by the response to this post; so many people want to read it. And that, feels really, really good.

  15. Super congrats!
    Deserved by the sounds of the time and effort and creativity you’ve put into it.

    I’m halfway down the path. I have an agent and my second novel a thriller set in Florida named Half Moon Road goes online next month. Rest hopefully will follow. Who knows?
    Have to thing it’s just a matter of time or would be asphyxiated by frustration!
    Meantime I create cartoon concepts for children’s TV to keep a modicum of sanity( not too much I hope!)

  16. Congratulations to you. Sounds like all your hard work has paid off. This post gives me hope. Thank you for that.

    • Thank you, Her Headache (cute pseudonym!). That is exactly why I wanted to share this will my awesome community. If I can do it, you can too. Nothing gives hope quite like one of our own finally being able to say, “I did it!” Best of luck to you! Be sure to let me know WHEN (not IF) it happens so I can celebrate with you.

  17. Reblogged this on Entertaining Stories and commented:
    This is very exciting news for my friend, Sue. She’s worked hard to accomplish this, and we should all celebrate a bit for her.

  18. Wonderful news, congratulations!

  19. Yay!
    Well done 😀 😀 😀

  20. Yay!
    Well done! 😀 😀 😀

  21. Awesome news, Sue. Very happy for you. It could not have happened to a nicer person. Congratulations!!

  22. heatherjacksonwrites

    Congratulations, Sue! This is such fantastic news! Can’t wait to read your book this fall. 🙂

  23. Truly sincere congratulations, Sue. You are a tremendously gifted writer who has earned this badge of distinction like no one I know. Your talent, drive, and persistence has opened your door to success and you’re an inspiration to all in the writing community. I know Marred will be the first of many books from Sue Coletta, Published Author!

    • Oh, Garry. *wipes tears away* That is SO sweet of you! Backatcha, buddy. Tell me, were you nervous when your first book hit the shelves?

      • I was like a rookie cop giving evidence in court for the first time – probably worse 🙂 But practice makes perfect… and I have a pile of practice to do.

        • Testifying in court… yup, that’s definitely worse. I can’t even fathom standing in front of a group of people and reading from my book. Just thinking about it makes me queasy. But I better get over it quick; I’ve already been asked to join another author in a dual signing days after it comes out. Dear Lord, give me strength!

  24. Fantastic!!! Cheers! There are not enough words to exclaim how happy I am for you. 😀 I’ve learned so much from your writing journey and so grateful you’ve been willing to share. You deserve a night, a week, a month….out on the town or a nice vacation resort. Come on down, I’ll call the cabana boys. 😉

    • That’s sounds delightful, especially if the cabana boys do massage. 🙂 Thanks so much, Sue. It’s been quite a ride. Now, the hard part… selling the darn thing. We’re you nervous when your first book hit the world?

      • Shy, nervous, anxious, even embarrassed. I felt like I had been stripped naked on the stage of the Mormon Tabernacle. When the positive reviews started coming in, I was thrilled. When a couple of critical ones popped up, I was devastated, going to unpublish and never write again. Hahaha! It’s all good.

  25. Donna Noble got it right – that’s brilliant! I am so thrilled to hear a success story of traditional publishing, Sue! Many, many congratulations, I have a small inkling of how hard you must have worked to get to this pinnacle and I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for you. Now… pass the wine – I want to help you celebrate! 😀

    • You’ve got it, Wendy. Grab a glass! It did take a lot of hard work, but secretly, I loved every minute of it. As I’ve said, I’ve turned into a structure-holic. I think that’s got a lot to do with it. I just made a new discovery too. A new craft book — it’s awesome! And unlike any other I’ve ever read. Next post, I’ll tell you all about it. You will love it!

      • Fantastic, thanks! I’m reading up on all the structure that I can right now.

        • You’ve got Story Engineering, right? Other good ones are Blake Synder’s Save The Cat! and Syd Field’s Screenwriting (it’s an old book, 1979). It’s still relevant today, though. Matter of fact, he’s the original who started other authors down the structure path.

          Getting into structure was my smartest move yet. One of the comments from the editing team was “very well plotted”, so I know they look at that as a deciding factor. Which is why I always share what I know, to help other writers so we have more success stories. Happy reading/writing, Wendy!

          • Thanks so much for those leads, Sue. I actually did discover Larry Brooks’ blog and took copious notes from his structure series and even spent a couple of days transferring much of the info into a Word template to make life easier. I also read Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell; this one also has some excellent points in it and helped to simplify important concepts in my mind. Then I read ‘The First Five Pages’ by Noah Lukeman; also very useful.

            Just ordered Save the Cat and Screenplay. Hehehe… happy reading to me, indeed!

            • James Scott Bell is excellent too. And, yes, Noah Lukeman. He also has a few other great books: “How To Land (and keep) A Literary Agent” and “How To Write A Great Query Letter”, both of which helped me a lot. There’s so many craft books out there. It’s so hard to know which ones are worth the money. Sounds to me like we have the same taste. 🙂 Happy reading!

              • I’ll definitely put these on my ‘want to read’ list for when I can buy them as well. Structure was something that I really missed out on. Even though I read everything I could get my hands on all my life and wrote countless poems and short stories, English classes never got in depth about novel writing and I did my degrees in areas that I thought would get me careers that would make money. Ah… hindsight! If I could go back I’d concentrate on English and would have started writing books far earlier. I can’t make my life back then any different, but I sure as heck can make it different from now on. 😀

                • Hindsight, indeed! I wish I got into structure much earlier than I did too. Live and learn. Now, however, every time I see a post or an article on the topic I stop to see what else I can learn. It’s like a well that never runs dry. Awesome!

                  • I finished ‘Save the Cat’ in record time – and can quite honestly say that I never had so many OMG!OMG!OMG! moments. 😀 This one’s a game changer for me! Now I have to read it again. Slowly. With a pad and pen by my side.

                    Quick question for you, Sue… in your opinion, does the structure outlined in this fabulous book line up perfectly with writing a novel too? Do you simply expand the word count? Is there another book, maybe, that covers this for novels?

                    So many questions! 😀 After I reread ‘Save the Cat,’ armed with the aforementioned pad and pen, I’ll read ‘Screenwriting,’ which is winking at me from my desk.

                    • He uses different words. Such as “inciting incident” instead of “fist plot point”. Novelists use “inciting incident” too, only if you follow Larry Brooks’ teachings, like I do, then your Inciting Incident can come anywhere in the first quartile, whereas your first plot point MUST come at 20-25% mark. So, yes, there are different terms, but the structure is basically the same. The reason I like Save The Cat! is because it delves deeper into the midpoint and later scenes and gives you more milestones to avoid a soggy middle. Like, Dark Side Of The Moon and All Is Lost (which Larry advocates for too). Once you read it slower you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’m like you, when I get a book I love I devour it, and then have to go back and reread certain chapters. I’m glad you liked it. I’m still not done with Screenwriting yet. I got sidetracked with a new craft book (posted about it today).

                    • Missed some of your questions, sorry. Is there another book that covers this for novels? Well, not exactly, because the author created that formula and wording. But you can easily put Story Engineering next to it and see how it lines up. As far as word count goes, stick to your genre instead of paying attention to his recommendations. If I remember correctly he used a really short word count, right? So just use percentiles rather than words or pages. If he says, say, 10 pages into a 100 page screenplay. Then you want 10% of your novel. See? But listen, I still swear by Story Engineering for overall structure, which is based on screenwriting tips. Larry studied screenwriting for years and converted the practices for novelists. Which is why that’s the first book I always recommend. That and Story Physics. Then, once you have the structure down… veer into the screenwriting books to delve deeper. That’s what I do, anyway. Happy reading!

  26. Awesome post and congrats!

  27. Oh mu God, Sue, I’m so excited!!!!! I want to do like the woman in your first gif!!!!

    I’m so, so happy for you. And you know? For me too. Yes, because this means it can be done. I always read about how self-publishing is the only way to manage your writing career in today’s world. See, it isn’t the only way. I knew.

    But enough of thi. Hey, I usually don’t drink, but what about a glass of wine to celebrate? 🙂

    • I don’t usually drink either. So, why not! *clinks glasses* Cheers!

    • Oh, and self-publishing is NOT the only way. We’re a lot alike in that respect. We have a clear dream in mind. Although, it is definitely a good option for many. Ideally, I’d like to be hybrid. But I always wanted traditional first. If you want to know the publishers that I submitted to, shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help any way I can.

  28. That is outstanding! Listen outside, you can probably hear me cheering in Idaho. You’ve worked really hard for this, and totally deserve it. So excited for you, and promise to get my copy this fall.

  29. Fantastic news! Congratulations, Sue 🙂

  30. YAY!!! Congratulations, Sue!! I’m so excited for you! So well deserved. I can’t wait to read MARRED!!!

  31. Congratulations Sue – delightful news and it just goes to show that following your dream can work – you’re an inspiration!

  32. Congratulations, Sue – much success!!

  33. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Some FABULOUS news from Sue Coletta! I know you all join me in congratulating her, and wishing her the very best of luck on her new journey. Hopefully, she’ll share some insights with us now and then. See, Sue…I TOLD you YOU ROCK! 🙂

  34. FABULOUS News, Sue! I’m so excited for you. Reblogging this right now, on The Write Stuff, and I hope you’ll keep us in the loop as your progress on this wonderful journey. This is just the BEST thing, ever!!! Huge congratulations for you, and great admiration for your unbelievable tenacity and focus!

  35. Congratulations, Sue! This is awesome – I can’t wait to read your book!

  36. So very happy for your news! It’s even better news for all of us who will now get to read MARRED. Best wishes to you!

  37. Can you hear me applauding from here, Sue?? I can’t tell you how happy I am for you!!! This is fabulous!! I can’t wait to read your book!!

    • Thank you, Margot! It’s been so hard keeping this quiet. Especially because I’ve missed so many great posts, or been late in responding. What a relief that’s now it’s out.

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