Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guest Blogger - Diane O'Brien Kelly

I first met Diane when I attended a fabulous workshop about writers and taxes she presented at the RWA national conference. Then she graciously agreed to let us use some of her tax articles on the Playground website. When I got her newsletter last week and found out... well, I'll let her tell you what I found out. Please welcome Diane O'Brien Kelly to the Writing Playground blog!

Sneaking in the Back Door

I did it. I beat the odds. I sold to a major New York publisher and I did it without an agent. Maybe you can, too!

After winning or placing in two dozen RWA chapter contests and taking home the Golden Heart in 2009 for my manuscript “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure,” I felt confident. Not only did the contest wins prove that my manuscripts had broad appeal, but I’d had two requests for fulls from editors who’d judged my work in contests. I was sure agents would engage in hand-to-hand combat for the right to represent me.

That’s not quite what happened.

Several agents I queried asked for fulls and one even approached me unsolicited with a request to see my Golden Heart manuscript. One of the agents worked with me for several months on revisions. Unfortunately, even after the revisions, she still wasn’t convinced I had a marketable project and didn’t offer representation.

There were no takers.

Was I devastated? Of course! I thought that, without an agent, the chances of being taken seriously by a big house were about the same as the odds of winning the Powerball. After all, the submissions guidelines for many houses state that only agented submissions will be considered.

Since the contest requests had given me an “in” through the back door, I sent the manuscript directly to the editors who’d requested it. And I kept hustling. I attended yet another conference and pitched my work directly to an editor at St. Martin’s, who requested a full.

Months later, with yet another round of requested submissions sitting in agents’ in-boxes, I got the call. In fact, I got two calls. The first was a two-book deal based on two completed manuscripts the editor had judged in a contest. The other deal, which was the one I decided to take, would be a three-book series beginning with my Golden Heart book. The editor who made the offer was the one I’d pitched to in person at the conference.

Yep, I’d snuck in the back door and got a deal on my own.

What did I learn from this experience? To take advantage of any and all opportunities to get your work in front of editors. Agents are not the only way. Enter contests. A lot of contests! Attend conferences. Lots of conferences! And, above all else, believe in yourself and your work.

For right now, you can see more about Diane at her website, which will soon be changing. And because her book won't be out until next year, she's graciously agreed to give one lucky commenter copies of her critique partners' books, "Operation Afterlife" by Angela Cavener and "Do Over" by Celya Bowers


Sheila Turner said...

I was in that tax workshop too! I still don't understand how to do a tax return, but my accountant doesn't understand the difference between show versus tell either. I just save every receipt and let him sort through them all. LOL!

I love your post and how you ended up with your sale. Congratulations!

Laurie said...

Congrats on your 3 book deal!

It's always interesting to hear about an author's journey to a published book. Thanks for sharing!

johnslake at usa dot com

vicki batman said...

Diane just rocks. I'm so happy for her and thank you for having her story on the Playground!

Playground Monitor said...

Thanks again, Diane, for blogging with us. I love your sale story. It'll be an inspiration for many who feel they've hit the wall.

Minna said...

Congrats on your book deal!

robertsonreads said...

Welcome Diane,
Many congratulations! I am not a writer myself but I love to read. I will look forward to your books. And what an interesting story on how you got published. And yes, you definitely have to believe in yourself, no matter what profession you are in, to have success.

word verification - heallin
That scratch is heallin on up.

chey said...

Hi Diane,
Congratulations on your book deal!
I enjoyed your post.

Diane Kelly said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by the read my guest blog! I'm glad you found it to be inspiring! Funny about the tax preparer not knowing the difference between show versus tell. : )

Problem Child said...

Yay, Diane! Way to go!

Be sure to come back when the books are out and we'll throw you a launch party!

You're proof there's no one way to sell a book, and your story is probably inspiring lots of folks even as we speak!