How Not Querying Got Me An Offer

Posted February 23, 2013 by elizatilton in Uncategorized / 44 Comments

Everyone loves a ‘this is how I got my contract story’. I figured it was time to share mine.

Back in May 2011, I decided to finish my YA Contemporary Romance and submit it to the YAlitchat submissions panel. For those of you who aren’t familiar with YAlitchat submissions panel, I’ll give you a quick explanation.

YAlitChat has teamed up with editors and agents, good ones too, to make YAlitChat members bypass the slushpile. If you’re a premier member, you can submit your query and first 500 words which will then be selected by YAlitchat and sent to the panel.

Around August, I submitted my work. Not only was my sub chosen to go onto the agent panel, it was the sub of the month! The subs of the month are published in the YAlitChat newsletter which gets sent out to hundreds of people. I was PSYCHED!

Then I got one full request from an agent and a partial request from the acquisitions editor at Curiosity Quills Press who at the time was Jessa Russo.

Up until that moment working with a small press NEVER crossed my mind. I had the big dream. Agent>Big Six (or five?)>Major Deal.

The partial request turned into a full, and the agent had ended up passing. During this time, I started researching small presses and Curiosity Quills Press.

A few weeks later I get a response from Jessa. She LOVED my book, but unfortunately it didn’t fit with the press who dealt mainly in speculative fiction.

An here’s where one thought changed everything.

I admit, I was heartbroken BUT Jessa had loved my story and it touched her in a personal way–isn’t that what writing is all about? We chatted back and forth and on a whim, I asked “You mentioned Curiosity Quills is mainly paranormal and SF. Do you take
on any fantasy? If yes, I’d love for you to take a peek at my 70,000
word Ya Fantasy BROKEN FOREST.”

Now, I actually THOUGHT about not mentioning the fantasy. See I had made the classic newbie mistake with BROKEN FOREST and queried wayyyy too early. Even though I had done a massive re-write, I hadn’t thought of querying it again. Jessa had been so sweet that I decided to take a chance.

Her response “I’d love to”.

I do one more pass on my fantasy, send it off, and then have a baby. Literally.

A month after my daughter was born, I get the email–Curiosity Quills Press is very interested in publishing BROKEN FOREST. We’d like to offer you a contract for publication.  

I think I screamed, jumped up and down, then screamed again. 

I took a few days to really think about it. Did I want to go with a small press? What did publishing with a small press mean? Is this the right way to go?

Saying yes was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. 

We all have conceptions about how to break into the industry. My story goes to show that things don’t always happen the way you want them to, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

I’ll continue to share my publishing journey. I know I would’ve loved to read someone’s experience with a small press. I hope by sharing my experience, it will help others see that there really is a great alternative to the big houses.

And if it wasn’t for the awesome YAlitchat submissions box, none of this would be happening.

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44 responses to “How Not Querying Got Me An Offer

  1. Great story! When I signed with Spencer Hill Press, they were still considered small. This year, they officially became a mid-sized publisherβ€”the year my book came out! Great presses grow and we grow with them. πŸ™‚

  2. Great story – so proud of you! You've clearly got the tenacious spirit to work with a small press and be an even bigger part of your own (pwn?) success.

  3. Eliza, my story starts very similar. I also wanted to start right at the top – who doesn't? But I too, found my way to Curiosity Quills through YALitChat – in a round-about way πŸ™‚

    So welcome aboard. I'll be seeing you around the CQ water cooler!

    And congrats!