The Serendipitous Path to a Publisher (Part 1)

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I now have a publisher! Booktrope will be re-issuing “High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery” and publishing new books in the Glass Bead Mystery series. And while this is exciting news, at least for me, the story behind how I ended up with a publisher is the stuff that good tales are made of: fear, dumb luck, bravery, and ultimately, a happy ending.

In January I sat in a cafe drinking coffee with my friend Kim. The San Francisco Writers Conference was coming up in a month and I told Kim I was thinking about going, but that I was nervous about it.  I was worried that I was not a real writer, even though I had self-published a book the previous year, and that I wasn’t professional enough to attend a conference for authors.  I hadn’t been writing for long and was worried that someone would find out that I was an impostor or that I’d embarrass myself by being such a newbie.

Kim told me to go and just “breathe the air” at the conference. She encouraged me by saying that I didn’t need to do anything but be there and absorb what information I could.  The next day I sat at my computer, shut my eyes, and I clicked the Submit button on the registration form for the conference. I was going.  And I was nervous.

A month later I stood outside the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, ready to dive in.

I can do this.

I had arrived ridiculously early, so I sat in the lobby chatting with a couple from out of town, giving them sightseeing advice. When it was time for the first session, I filed into a large conference room with the rest of the attendees. The first thing that the moderator did was ask anyone who had brought a book with them that they had written to hold it above their head. I held up my empty hand and told to the moderator in my strongest voice that I had sold the book I brought to the tourists in the lobby.  Maybe the weekend was going to be okay after all.

I hadn’t signed up to do the the Pitch-a-Thon, that was over-the-top intimidating to me. For the uninitiated, a pitch-o-thon is like speed-dating with agents and publishers, instead of potential mates. Authors move from table to table pitching their story in 4 minute segments with the hope that an agent or publisher will be interested in seeing a full manuscript. The prospect of pitching my book scared the hell out of me, so instead I went and sat on a bench in the park across from the hotel, soaking in the sun during the pitching session. I had breathed enough conference air for the day.

Janice with High Strung manuscript

Here I am at the San Francisco Writers Conference with my manuscript. Note the nervous smile.

In the final hours of the conference, I sat at a round table in a ballroom with many other attendees. I’d learned a lot about book marketing and I’d found other new authors like me who were there to learn and to meet people who had a love of words, books, and stories. I was feeling good. Maybe I wasn’t an impostor after all.

There was a raffle and I won a prize—a free pass to go to a Pitch-o-Rama hosted by the Women’s National Book Association in San Francisco. Ugh! Of all the prizes, this was the one that I didn’t want. I was going to have to pitch my book to publishers and agents.  And I was scared as hell all over again.

Emboldened by my success at the writers conference, I decided I would go and pitch.

I can do this.

Here’s Part 2:


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