It's been a while, and I'm delighted to bring you this success story in the author's words:
Contests are a little bit like the first day of school. You dress up your first page in its finest duds, hope the teacher (i.e., judge) likes it, and are scared beyond all get-out that you won’t make a single friend.
Or maybe that’s just what they were like for me.
When I entered the Baker’s Dozen in November 2012 with my hot-off-my fingertips YA Contemporary Fantasy, I had high hopes. Everyone who had heard the concept loved it. It was about a Jinn, aka a genie. Not many genie books were around at the time, and I thought I had a good shot at making it in the Baker’s Dozen.
And, well, I got schooled.
I didn’t make the cut. But the positive feedback I received on the generous K.T. Crowley’s Web site, which hosted loglines for critique, fueled me. The concept was solid, the writing was there (I hoped), but my first page needed work.
Turns out my first chapter needed work. As in a revamp. A rewrite. A retooling. I was fortunate to receive feedback from three published authors whose critiques I had bid on and won as part of charity auctions, including, coincidentally, Jodi Meadows, who had selected with Authoress the winning Baker’s Dozen entries.
I absorbed all the feedback and zeroed in on my opening, concentrating on making it the best it could be. The start of Chapter 3 became the start of Chapter 1. Reworking this was like throwing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in the air and trying to reassemble them into a picture that made sense. It wasn’t easy. But I did my homework, read books about opening pages, read more opening chapters than I can count, and I learned. At least I hoped I did.
When the January 2013 Secret Agent contest came along, I was lucky enough to have my number chosen. If it wasn’t, I’m not sure I’d be writing this today.
Because when I put my shiny, first page in its new outfit up there on its first day of school to meet the teacher, it had a great day. The best. Readers loved it. And, so did the teacher. The Secret Agent chose three winners and asked for the full manuscript. My first page was one of those winners.
I hadn’t even begun querying, and I had a full out. I had planned to start querying that week regardless of the contest outcome, and I continued with the plan, sending to a handful of agents.
One liked it. A lot. Asked for the full. Asked if anyone else had the full. I explained about the contest win (for which she offered huge congratulations) and told her about the Secret Agent.
She offered me representation within a couple of days. And that agent, Lucy Carson of The Friedrich Agency, sold my January Secret Agent winning entry BECOMING JINN and its sequel to Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends in May.
My agent and I worked on a revision before we went out on submission, but that first page, which I spent all that time honing for the Secret Agent contest, never changed. Through my agent’s reads, through my betas’ reads, the first page remained as it was. And, you know what’s pretty cool?
I recently received my line edit from my editor. The first page that won me the Secret Agent contest, that led to my offer of representation, well, my editor didn’t make a single mark.
I can’t wait to see that page in print. And for you to see it too.
Thank you Authoress for running your Secret Agent contests. I’m thrilled to have my success story start with you. If that weren’t enough, I also managed to make some friends on that contest day, one of which has become a beta and dear friend with her own contest success story (go Nat!).
The tentatively titled BECOMING JINN is scheduled to be released in Spring 2015. You can see a sneak peek and follow its journey at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com and follow me on Twitter at @loriagoldstein.