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That First Sale - Guest Juliana Stone

October 30, 2009 | Deborah Cooke | Comments (11)

I first met Juliana Stone in July 2008 at Pearson, in the departure lounge for the non-stop Air Canada flight to San Francisco where the RWA National convention was to be held. As is often the case, there were a lot of writers headed to the conference on the same flight and we got to talking. Juliana caught wind of the conversation and came over to introduce herself - she was then a new RWA member and an unpublished author, very excited about going to her first national conference. The next time I met Juliana was when she came to my full day workshop at TRW in January 2009 - 6 months later, she had an agent and a two-book deal with Avon. (She just got her cover - have a peek!)

HisDarkestHunger mm Since markets are fluid and the only constant in publishing is change, I thought it would be more helpful for you to hear about Juliana's first sale than mine. Juliana and I talked in July - I'm sure a lot has happened to her and her perspectives since then, and she'll pop by today to answer questions.

My questions are marked DC and her answers JS.

DC - Welcome Juliana! Tell us about making your first sale. What did you do when you got The Call?

JS - The Call.  Love it!  For me the whole process of my first sale took about a week.  On September 4th, a Thursday, I came home from buying myself a laptop and there was a message on my answering machine from my agent, telling me to call her back as she had some news about my book.  I did so immediately and she said that one editor loved everything about the book, hated the ending and was open to a possible re-write.  She also said that a second editor had called back, loved the book and wanted to talk.  She told my agent she’d call me on the following Monday.  Which came and went with no call.  Tuesday she called and we really hit it off over the phone.  I was pumped but cautious.  This editor didn’t say to me, “oh yes, I’m buying your book!”

Wednesday came and went and I was afraid to call my agent.  Thursday, September 11th I was soaking in the tub when the phone rang.  I’d brought it in with me and thank god!  My agent had called to put me out of my misery and tell me that Avon had offered me a two book contract!  My book was sold and the emotions I felt were pretty much indescribable.  I called my husband, mom, friends…everyone!  It’s an amazing feeling to realize a dream and to live it!


DC - Tell us about your book. Is it the first romance novel you've written? How did you decide where to submit your book?

JS - His Darkest Hunger is my first book.  I’m the author others hate!  I’d decided to take a serious stab at writing in the fall of 2007.  This book I started in May of 2008.  I’d started it as a submission for a Nocturne contest on eHarlequin, and the editor asked for the full.  I wrote like the wind, finished in 7 weeks and sent it along.  I decided at that point to query agents and sent out approximately 8 queries.  Within a week I had offers from two.  The agent I signed with, Laura Bradford, was at the top of my list and it was an easy decision to make.  Together we lengthened the book from its category state and she pitched it in July, to seven different houses, and we sold to Avon/Harpercollins.

I’m in love with paranormal stories and this book has jaguar shifters, sorcerers, vampires, a heroine who can’t remember her past and a former lover who is intent on revenge.

DC - Do you have an agent? If so, how did you decide which agents to approach? If not, why did you decide to go alone?

JS - I am represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.  I decided early on that if I was going to pursue this goal of being published an agent would certainly help me get there. Especially if I was looking to sell in the Single Title Market and hit the New York publishing houses.  I researched my favourite authors to see who their agents were.  I checked out Predators and Editors, and Agent query.  I then made up my list and sent my queries out.

DC - Was there anything that surprised you about selling a book, or about the publisher's expectations from a new author? Anything that you found really exciting?

JS - I think the one thing that still surprises me, and quite frankly by now it shouldn’t, is how SLOW the pace of publishing is.  It gets very frustrating sometimes.  You feel like you’re always waiting on something.  I learned to always look ahead and keep writing. 

For me, because I’m such a newbie every stage has been exciting, however, of note….when I first saw my book up for pre-order on Amazon that was a moment and then the day after I returned from Nationals, my editor sent me a first peek at my cover!  That is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget!
 
DC - Have you started to promote your book yet? If so, how?

JS - I have not really dipped into concrete promotion yet.  I’ve created an online persona and there are various blogs I visit and partake it.  They help to get my name out there.  I’m taking part in a center page advert in the RT magazine next spring, but other than that not too much yet.  I’m still mulling over the best way for me to go, and I will be working closely with the publicity and marketing department at Avon.

DC - What's up next for you? Will you be writing more books in this series, or are you writing something different?

JS - This series is a planned 3 story arc for sure, with definite possibilities of a 4th and more.  I just turned in the second jaguar book, which will be available next fall and am about to write the option for the third.  God willing, I’ll snag another sale and continue the series. 

I’m also working on YA that I hope my agent will be shopping this fall, as well as a series of shorts for Samhain Publishing, that are romantic time travel.

DC - If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring romance author, what would it be?

JS - First off, write what you love.  Secondly, educate yourself about the business side of publishing.  Research the agents and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Lastly, please be aware that when you’re in an online forum, chat or blog, thousands of people can be reading your words.  Conduct yourself in a professional manner.  Be nice and never talk trash about other authors, it’s just not classy!

DC - Thanks Juliana for sharing your first sale story. I'm sure people will have lots of questions for you.

Juliana's website is HERE. Now, who has a question for Juliana, about that first sale or something else?

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Toronto Public Library's Romance Writer-In-Residence Deborah Cooke discusses writing and getting published in the romance genre.

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