Recently, I wrote an article In Their Own Words: Authors Talk About First Sales and was struck by not only the enthusiastic response from so many authors who wanted to tell their story but also by the inspiration I gained from hearing those stories. An author may make many sales throughout a career, but the first sale stands out. Details of that event are engraved in a writer's memory.
Since I'd been thinking about adding a regular feature (hopefully something to appear at least once a month) to Sling Words, I thought stories about an author's first sale might be a good addition. In fact, I touted this as First Sale Stories. In thinking about it though, I decided War Stories was a more evocative--and more accurate--title for the series. Why? Oh, let's just say that we writers often feel as if we're engaged in a war. Each manuscript we write is a battle fought until The End signals a truce. With each submission we risk rejection, a war wound. I know a lot of writers who are so battle-scarred they should receive an Authorial Purple Heart! Yet, on and on we fight. So what better title for an article about someone who has fought the good fight and triumphed?
So, Sling Words welcomes you to War Stories.
Poor Pam Mellor--uh, that is--lucky Pam Mellor was asked to be my first victim--I mean guest. Fortunately, Pam, in the flush of victory, was more than gracious and charming and agreed to give it a go.
Pam: Okay, here goes.
Sling Words: When did you sell and how?
Pam: I signed with my agent, Sha-Shana Crichton of Crichton & Associates Literary Agency, after she'd emailed to ask if my trilogy of erotica novellas was still available. I said yes and was told she would get back to me very soon. A few days later, she called and offered representation. That afternoon, she called and said two big publishers were interested in the trilogy. One day less than three weeks after I'd signed with her, she called and told me we had a contract. But wait! The other publisher wanted us to wait to accept the contract until that Friday. When Friday passed with no word, I tried to be positive. Then Monday, June 27, my agent called and asked what I wanted to do. We decided to take the Kensington contract, with a few stipulations.
Sling Words: What's the title of your book, genre, pub date if you have one?
Pam: The title is Pleasure Beach, and it's actually three novellas in one spine--and they let me keep all of my original titles! Pleasure Beach was my title, as well. As for genre...it's a totally "new" genre--humorous erotica. One of my old critique partners said: "Leave it to you to create a new sub-sub genre!" I take no credit for the "creation." I suspect it has been lurking for years, and Kensington was just smart enough to see the viability of a market for it. BTW, the line has yet to be named, so therefore no actual pub date has been established. I've been told early 2006--January, February, or March most likely.
Sling Words: Okay, give us a comment about how you felt when you made the sale.
Pam: You know, that's interesting. I had a call back in October from an editor at Harlequin who loved my romantic comedy--two weeks after I'd mailed the requested manuscript to her, Harlequin announced the demise of their humor line...just my luck!--and didn't want to just send a rejection letter. She said she'd tried for something like a month and a half to find a line at Harlequin or Silhouette where it would fit and had even asked them to reinstate the humor line for my book (They refused.). After her call, I remember punching my fist in the air and having a permanent smile--all because I'd finally "hit" an editor who "got" my humor and loved my writing and wanted more. I felt somewhat like that after I signed with my agent. So...it was a shock to not feel that euphoria multiplied when my agent called and said we had a contract. I thought it was because we still did not know with whom. But even after she called me--yesterday, in WalMart, while I was reading vitamin labels--it didn't happen. All of my friends and critique partners were jumping up and down and amazed at how calm I was(okay, maybe I wasn't all that calm, since I went into a dialing frenzy). But I still wasn't "over the moon." Know what I mean? But...then my editor(MY editor! I actually have a real, live, editor! EEK!) called to introduce himself--suddenly it was real. We had a nice conversation--although I'm not totally sure what was said, but since I'm "the mouth of the South" I can converse on auto-pilot. Thankfully, years of education also clicked in and I seem to have taken notes--they're in my chicken scratch, so I can only assume I wrote them. BTW, I couldn't stop smiling all night long.
Sling Words: How long have you been writing?
Pam: Is that a trick question?(ha,ha) I always said since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Before that, if you count the tall tales I entertained everyone with--my cousins will swear to you to this day that I could read at 3 (I'd memorized the books and/or embellished with how I thought they should be written!) But for publication? Maybe 10 years. Seriously for publication? More like less than 5 years. Life kept getting in the way and then, just when I was really starting to ACTIVELY pursue publication, my father became ill, had a lengthy hospitalization and died. Mother sank into an abyss of depression and held pity parties for herself until she became ill, 2 years later and died. That was in February and for a while there, I felt as though I'd fallen into the grave with her or, at the very least, developed adult-onset ADD. She passed in February and I couldn't do more than walk in and check my email and walk out until about May. It was a horrible period in my life. I credit my wonderful agent for saving me. I mean it! Had she not called and offered representation and affirmation at a time when I so sorely needed it, I would still be attending my own pity parties. For that alone, I am forever grateful. Selling my book was icing on the cake!
Sling Words: What do you think led to this first sale?
Pam: My wonderful writing, of course!
Sling Words: Got any PR details you want readers to know, i.e., your one-sentence blurb, web site, blog URL, P.O. Box, or whatever?
Pam: Once you visit Pleasure Beach, you'll want to return again and again.
Sling Words: Hey, that's good! Anything else you'd like readers to know?
Pam: I hope they all will run out and buy Pleasure Beach as soon as it is available! And, no, alas, I did not do extensive research for the erotic scenes.
Sling Words: I didn't even think to ask about kinky sex research, darn it! Would you elaborate on something? What was the order of the selling manuscript--first, tenth, or what?
Pam: I say I have been pursuing publication for almost ten years--seriously pursuing it for less than half that amount of time. :) My selling manuscript was #8, #9 and #10...I think.
Sling Words: Thanks, Pam, for participating. Great answers. Do you have some way for readers to check back with you?
Pam: No web site yet--I have no idea as to when I will acquire one. Sigh. So much to do! Makes me tired, just thinking about it.
Sling Words: Thanks again, Pam. We here at Sling Words wish you great success with Pleasure Beach! (Sounds like a place we'd all like to visit. Wonder when the next boat leaves?)
Okay, Readers, there you have it. Next year when you're looking for a comic
erotica, remember Pam Mellor and Pleasure Beach.