How I Got My Book Deal

Let me just get this out of the way:

*deep breath*

*dances around the room, dabbing and screaming silently so neighbors don’t complain*

*another deep breath*

Ahem. Yes. Let’s get back to it, shall we?

It’s been nearly eight months since I wrote about the start of my writing journey. Eight months since I nearly lost hope someone would love my heart book as much as I did. Eight months since I got THE call from my amazing agent Jess offering me representation. Eight months since we went on sub with When Snow Meets Crane.

It’s felt like an eternity.

I’m going to be honest. I was hoping to experience the phenomenal success stories of some of my writer friends. I knew ones who sold their book within weeks of going on sub. Quite a few sold at auction for eye-popping figures. I’m a perfectionist and highly competitive, and I’d convinced myself if I did not do the same, I was still a failure. So, as soon as I went on sub, the mental clock in my brain started to count down.

A week went by. Then two, three, then six.

We got some early feedback – great writing, important themes, emotionally impactful. There were even a couple of reluctant passes. Nonetheless, no offers. I was crushed, but not ready to give up. Until we heard back from everyone, I was determined to keep writing. Having already finished a second manuscript (AHP), I began drafting a fantasy romcom I’d been plotting for weeks. I needed something light after spending months with the deeply personal WSMC.

In December, I put a hold on Fantasy Romcom to revise WSMC based on some editorial feedback. We sent out a second round in January. Within weeks, we got the same feedback from about half the editors. They didn’t connect with the voice, or didn’t feel strongly enough. It hit me hard…so much so I couldn’t put down a single word on ANYTHING.

In February, Jess called me at work during my lunch hour. We’d gotten two direct requests for AHP, a crossover fantasy. After talking it over, I agreed to send it out. The waiting was now two-fold.

Within a couple of weeks, I started to feel antsy. Work kept me busy during the day, but the evenings and weekends were filled with sub anxiety. I was still completely blocked on Fantasy Romcom. So, with Jess’s support, I started brainstorming a new project. I’d been wanting to retell one of my favorite books, Pride & Prejudice. I just hadn’t figured out how to make it my own.

Then, fate intervened. A tweet popped up on my timeline, linking an article about an unusual college campus bulletin. It warned about an older woman approaching students and asking them to look at pictures of her son. Lightning struck. That was it!

The story came together within hours, and I was drafting the first chapter by that evening. For weeks after that, all I did was go to work, come home, eat dinner, and write. I averaged about 5 hours of sleep a night, terrified of losing momentum on this book.

Thirty days later, I was finished.

I reached out to my favorite people, the Magic Sprinting Squad, for critique partners. They didn’t disappoint. Within a week and a half, all six of my CPs returned their thoughts to me for revision. I hunkered down and spent the next days working to finalize the manuscript. Then, I emailed it to Jess and crossed my fingers.

She LOVED it.

On Thursday, April 11th, we went out on sub. I was stunned at the early enthusiasm from all our editors. Within days, everyone had requested the manuscript to read. Still, I knew it was important to be cautiously optimistic.

Seven days later, my phone went off while I was at work. It was Jess. One of the editors  wanted to set up a call for the next day.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a few minutes.

When I pulled myself together, Jess helped me to set up the call, and I spent the next twenty-four hours in a state of semi-panic. What if I say something wrong? What if we don’t see eye-to-eye editorially? What if this was my only chance and I ruin it?

The time came. Jess conferenced me in with Editor A. We talked for almost an hour. She loved the book, but also *got* the book. The importance of family, the sense of obligation, the desire for independence. All of it. Her edits made perfect sense, and I knew we could work well together. Before we ended the call, the editor told us she’d get back to us early next week. I spent all weekend in a daze.

On Monday, eleven days after we went on sub, I received my first offer. That afternoon, we got another editor call request. I spoke with Editor B that evening. She also loved and understood the book, particularly because we shared similar cultural backgrounds. Her edits, though slightly different in focus, would also make my book incredibly strong. This was going to be a tough decision.

The next morning, we received our second offer. Jess reached out to the remaining editors. A couple bowed out because they worked for imprints of Editor A’s publisher. A few passed. Several others were reading and enjoying the book, but needed more time to consider it.

Jess asked me how I wanted to proceed. I thought long and hard about it. Both editors were amazing people with great track records in publishing. Both were passionate about bringing diversity to readers and loved my voice. Each of their editorial visions made my book stronger. It was impossible to choose. In addition, I also had interest from the editors still reading the book.

In the end, I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture. I considered the path I wanted to take in my writing career. With that in mind, one choice stood out. I called Jess and we talked it over. She agreed with my decision and passed it along.

On April 23rd, 2019, I accepted the offer from Editor A, Jessica Harriton at Razorbill (Penguin Random House). I am ridiculously excited to work with her! Team Jess Squared for the win!

A TASTE FOR LOVE is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice meets the Great British Bake-Off, with an all-Asian leading cast. It’s stuffed with delicious food, witty banter, and of course, a swoon-worthy romance! It follows high school senior Liza as she foils her tiger mom’s matchmaking schemes, fights to step out of perfect sister Jeannie’s shadow, and pursues her dream of a baking career. Just don’t be surprised if you end up with a boba tea addiction by the end!

I want to finish by saying this:

Don’t model your journey on that of another. It might sound cliche, but it’s the truth. I did that during this process, and almost gave up because I put so much pressure on myself. If I had called it quits at any point before going on sub with ATFL, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s taken me months and multiple books to achieve success, but in the end, I will debut with a book that is quintessentially me.

(Not to mention I now have two other books I can go back and sub when the time is right!)

Many paths lead to the same destination. Some are shorter, others are winding, and even more are fraught with obstacles. While you can’t choose which one you must take, you can decide if you reach your destination. Keep your eyes forward, remember why you started, and take one step at a time.

Oh, and please don’t forget to breathe!

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