How I was (traditionally) published…

Sunday morning view of Pikes Peak

It seems kind of silly to outline my book’s success on a day such as this, so I’ll explain what’s happening…

On Saturday, my family was put under mandatory evacuation from our home in Colorado Springs. Watching the hillside, I watched as fire consumed trees from base to top (appropriately termed “torching”). As such, I felt scared for the firefighters that were beginning to attack it. This picture shows my view from a hotel near my home on Sunday. Since then, officials have rescinded the order to leave my neighborhood, but I am a mile north of the current evac area.  What’s more, is that my husband is a CSFD firefighter in the wild land team; he will spend the next 48 hours fighting wildfire in record high temperatures.

However, one can’t put a hold on life. And so I want to respond to a letter that asked how my WWII historical fiction novel Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me?? was published.

When I was a child, my grandmother, Honey, would tell me stories about her early life. When I was 26, Honey gave me two large scrapbooks full of chronologically ordered letters from WWII. It later occurred to me that if I taped interviews with Honey, I could write an accurate narrative from both perspectives. It was an awesome experience for me.

Here’s the timeline:

April  – August 2009 I documented letters from Don to Honey (note: these are not “hi, how are you?” letters…they are 5 pages of “this is my heart on paper” letters).

August 2009 – I interviewed Honey and her two siblings for a week

September 2009 – September 2010 – I wrote Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me?? in my free time (between 8pm and 1 am most nights). My editor, Mark Graham, helped me to edit the work continuously throughout this time.

September – December 2010 – I edited the manuscript and wrote my query letter (this one letter took about a month to write!) Mark went through the 2nd draft and I wrote the 3rd draft. Because the completion of my manuscript coincided with the end of the year, I felt that it would be best to wait a few weeks to query agents and publishers after the new year.

January – July 2011 – I entered the query process. I received a couple requests for the entire manuscript but never received replies. Mostly, the rejection letters I received said things like, “I liked it…but I didn’t LOVE it” or “If I like it, I’ll let you know.”

February 12, 2011 – I sent a synopsis and small query (more of an introduction) to the Sunbury Press in Camp Hill, PA. They asked for my manuscript on Valentine’s Day.

August 1, 2011 – The Sunbury Press offered to publish my novel.

January 4, 2012 – Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me?? was made available in print.

February 27 2012 – The novel was made available on eBook.

May 28 – June 1 2012 – My novel was offered as a Memorial Day promotion on Kindle and there were 34,000 downloads, making it the 3rd most downloaded Kindle book for the week.

So now, after 3 years, I’m 30, chasing around 2 crazy kids (and a crazy husband) and about to complete my second work EMPIRE and I hope to have it ready to query by Labor Day! If you are looking for ideas about how to budget time while writing your manuscript, you can see my post on that here. Thank you for reading.

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10 thoughts on “How I was (traditionally) published…

  1. Carrie. Wonderful story and I hope your family stays safe, given these awful forest fires. I was taken slightly aback reading your post because my own grandmother’s nickname was Honey. Her husband called her this, her children and eventually her grandchildren. We never called her “grandma.” I hadn’t heard anyone ever say they called their grandmother, Honey. So nice to hear you did! 🙂

    • Hehe, everyone has called her Honey since she was 6. If you called her by her first name, I don’t think she’d respond! That’s awesome that your grandmother shared that name too. I love how that’s part of Southern culture.

      • I have a whole suitcase full. It is overwhelming My father started writing to my mom in 1937. He went in the army in 1940. He has been training since then. I am now in 1943 and I have written 20 chapters, and I am only, well almost a quarter of the way through. Blogging about it is the best way I have found to keep me motivated when I get overwhelmed.

  2. What a great story! Love that it was based on your grandmother’s past. And congrats on its success. 34k, holy crap! That’s awesome 🙂 Also interesting that you went around the agents.

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