My Call: The Journey

I sold to Love Inspired Historical!!! Here's how it happened:

"You should write a book. You'd make more money doing that."

In 2006 my editor at the newspaper I freelanced for told me this. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head. Write for money? Sure, I'd written stories all my life, but to actually write a book and be paid for it was a concept that had never occurred to me.

That same year, I started a historical romance. Why historical? Because Love Inspired was launching a historical line in 2007 and I was aiming for that. I also love reading historical romances.

"The characters should be talking by now."

So said agent Steve Laube at my first writer's conference in 2007. He'd gotten to page 7 and my heroine was still thinking of backstory. I made every newbie mistake with that first manuscript. So I read articles and did my best to make the manuscript shine. Then I submitted it to agents. Form rejections. I decided to submit it to Love Inspired Historical. Weeks later, the rejection came back. "Your writing is not strong enough." Granted, I'd only sent a very poor synopsis, but that editor was right and though it stung, I knew I needed help.

"To conclude, I want to stress that you have written a beautiful and intriguing novel."

I decided to send my historical to Harlequin's Critique Service. While it was there, I started a new book. As I wrote, I realized how bad my first story was. I determined that I'd probably have to shelve it. That was okay, because my new story was so exciting! I was sure it would be the one. Finally the historical critique came back. It rocked! The line above is the one reason I decided to keep submitting the story. I put the historical away for a while though because I'd finaled with my contemporary and it was not until 2008 that I began querying the historical again.

"Project Under Consideration"

An agent was interested! I sent it to the agent and continued writing and querying. After many other agent rejections, this same agent still had the story. Finally, a year and a half later, the agent rejected the full, citing some slowness at the beginning (it was slow). A little disheartened, I decided to move onto the publisher and resubmit (remember I first subbed it in 2007). Thanks to the contest I'd finaled in with my second story, I'd developed a preference for a specific editor at Love Inspired. I sent a query and synopsis to her. And waited.

This is where my call becomes very typical but no less exciting. She requested a partial. Then revisions and a full. Then revisions again and a resubmit. And then.....THE E-MAIL. :-)

I was at work all day when it came so I didn't see it until that night. I'm still wavering between shock and joy!

I learned a lot from this journey.

1. Don't be afraid to revise.
2. Be persistent. If you don't submit, you can't move forward.
3. Develop relationships. It was through finaling and submitting that I discovered an editor who found promise in my writing.
4. Never give up.

If you give up, then nothing will ever happen.

So there it is, a very long post about my five year journey to publication. The book is slotted to come out in April 2012.

How do you think you'll react when you get the call? Are you submitting yet? Any questions?


Wow, what a road!

I didn't know that was how it unraveled for you.


And when I get the call I have no idea how I'll react. Hoping I don't lose my bladder. ;)

Another huge Congratulations!
~ Wendy
Linda Kage said…
WOW!!!! Happy squeals!! This is majorly exciting. Congratulations.

I love following a blogger and reading their "THE CALL" story. Best posts ever.

Seems like it's always that book you debate on whether to shelve away in storage that makes the first exciting sell.

CONGRATS. So very happy for you. Now I'm all eager to hear more about your story. I've been on a historical romance reading kick lately.
Lisa Jordan said…
WOOO HOOO!!! Congratulations, Jessica! I absolutely love being a part of the Love Inspired family. I'm sure you will too! I loved reading your call story.
AWESOME!! So excited for you! I love reading journey stories, they're so inspiring. Congratulations, looking forward to reading your book. :)
Angie Muresan said…
I am glad to hear you weren't discouraged from going on, Jessica. I can't wait to read your book!
Jessica Nelson said…
Thanks Wendy! Yep, this was the first thing I wrote so it's been through a lot. :-)

LOL Linda! Thanks for the enthusiasm. I love historical romances too.

Thanks Lisa! LI seems incredibly supportive.
Jessica Nelson said…
Thanks Jessica. :-)

Angie, LOL, I'm a stubborn person who doesn't like being told what I can't do. That helps I think, with not getting discouraged. :-) That and I knew I had more stories so I was determined to keep going until something happened with something. Heeheee.
Karen Lange said…
What a journey, so glad you shared it with us! I'm so excited for you! :D Can't wait to read it!
Unknown said…
Congratulations, Jessica! The suspense was killing me as I read this. Wow, what a journey. :D
Jessica Bell said…
Yay! Congrats, Jessica! Such wonderful news!!!
WOOHOO, Jessie!! Do you know how rare it is for people to ever sell their first book??? So don't ever say anything about this is typical because you totally broke the mold, baby! With five years of hard work, you got that book on a shelf. Say that a few times out loud. It'll make you feel pretty doggone special. As you are. :)

And how will I feel when I get the call??? I think you know the answer to that. Oh yes, you do. HEH.

Oh, and my blog post for that call will probably take about a month to write. I'll have to post it in weekly installments. I'm totally not joking, and you know that, too. HA!


This is well earned, and I'm very proud of you!
Laila Knight said…
That is awesome!!! Good for you. Now you're living every writer's dream. Way to hang in there for the long haul.
Susan Sleeman said…
Thanks for sharing your story, Jessica! so happy you kept after it and will soon be a published author! Congrats, again!!!!
Loree Huebner said…
Congrats to you! It's a journey for sure.
Jill Kemerer said…
Huge, huge, HUGE congrats, Jessica!!! I was nodding through your journey. Mine has been bumpy and long, too. I'm so proud of you--and can't wait to read your book in April!!
Patti said…
That is so exciting. Just goes to show that hard work does pay off. Congratulations.
Katie Ganshert said…
So happy for you Jessica! So much fun to read your journey!!
Chazley Dotson said…
Congratulations! I love reading about other writers' journeys!
Unknown said…
Congrats! I'm so excited for you!!!
Heather Sunseri said…
Oh, huge congrats, Jessica!! I love hearing others' inspirational stories to publication. Thanks for sharing yours.
Jessica Nelson said…
You guys are so wonderful and supportive! Thank you for all your congrats and sweet words!!! It's awesome to be able to share my happiness and have you all encourage me like this!
Tana said…
Yay Jessica! I'm so thrilled for you! And your pub date is only a year away!!!
Jaime Wright said…
YES!!! YES YES YES YES!!! *Jaime doing a happy dance - be glad you can't see it*
I've been waiting to see this post, Jessica!!!


Your journey sounds like a roller coaster with lots of twists in it. Can't wait to hold your book in my hands!


Oh, and PS, I used your Blogger "fix" today and it worked perfectly. Thanks for sharing!
Jessica Nelson said…
Tana, I KNOW!!! I can't believe it. LOL
Thanks for the reminder to Never Give Up!!!

So happy for you, Jessica, and Congratulations again!!!
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Jaime, I'll join in! Trust me, I can bustamove like you've never seen before (imagine uncoordinated, hyped-up, jerky movements...). But all that matters is that we'll be laughing. :-)

Eileen, awesome!!! I just popped by your blog actually. So far it's worked like a charm for me. :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
Thank you Cheryl! I don't know what I would do without my wonderful critters!
Sarah Forgrave said…
What a great story, Jessica! Will I get to congratulate you in person at ACFW this year? :)
Jessica Nelson said…
Yes, I'll be there! Can't wait to meet you, Sarah!
Warren Baldwin said…
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !!!!!
Diane said…
I knew it was coming!!! So happy for and proud of you!!! :O)
Susanne Dietze said…
CONGRATULATIONS! I can't wait to hear more about the story--better yet, I can't wait to hold it in my hands.

Thanks for sharing your journey!
Indie Newbie said…
Congratulations Jessica! That is so exciting!!! I will be looking for your book. :)
Anonymous said…
That's awesome! Thanks for sharing your journey.
Stephanie Faris said…
YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. I love reading stories like this. My journey to publication is 16 years and counting, but we won't talk about that!
PatriciaW said…
Congratulations, Jessica!
Oh Wow!!! Jessica!!!
That is soooo awesome. I am sooo thrilled for you :) yeah!
I am doing the happy dance for you!
I knew it would come and I knew it would be a fantastic publisher too!
Congratulations! And celebrate big, you deserve it!
Marie-Claude :)
Fresh Garden said…
Wow! You're a stubborn person and you love historical romances? Cool!
You and I have more in common than I thought. ;)
I think it is wonderful news for you. My journey is very similar to yours and my partial is with an agent at the moment.

I wish you all the luck in the world with your new path to follow.
Julie Dao said…
Jessica, CONGRATULATIONS. It couldn't have happened to a sweeter or more talented person. I love the story and the lesson: perseverance pays off! Can't wait to see your book on the shelves. ♥
Jennifer Shirk said…
I LOVED LOVED LOVED hearing your call story!
I cannot wait to read your book!!
Dara said…
That's an amazing story and wonderful news! So happy for you--you definitely HAVE to keep us updated so I can buy your book :)
Jessica Nelson said…
Thanks Warren!

Diane, you should've given me a heads up, since you knew. *grin*

You're so sweet, Susanne! Thank you. :-)

Thanks, K. Victoria! :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Lynn, thanks for popping by and reading my post. :-)

Stephanie, your story will be very, very inspirational! Your blog has such a strong voice that I can't wait to read one of your books!

Thanks Patricia!

Hey Marie-Claude!! How are you? Heeheee, love doing the happy dance! Thanks so much for the congrats!
Jessica Nelson said…
Hahaaa, Fresh Garden, maybe we do. :-) Thanks for commenting!

Woohoo Glynis! And best wishes to you also with your partial. :-)

Julie, perseverance does pay off. I truly believe it and have no doubt I'll be seeing your books on the shelves one day too. *grin*
Jessica Nelson said…
Jennifer, all your Loveds make me smile. ;-)

Dara, I'll keep you updated. How are you feeling? I'm about to pop by your blog and see what kind of updates YOU have. *grin*
Jessica Nelson said…
Fresh Garden, just in case you pop by again, the comments on your blog are disabled so no one can leave any. :-)
Laila Knight said…
Hi Jessica, just an FYI. I have been given an irresistibly sweet blog award and have chosen you as one of the five I'm forwarding it to. I'll be posting on Monday so whenever you happen by please help yourself to it. Have a great day!
I am soooooo happy for you, and proud of yiou, Jessie. I'm glad you persisted on this journey.

Yes, my agent is submitting my proposals, and has been for almost two years now. I'm working on a book on prayer in addition to my humorous devotional.

Can't wait for your book to come out!

Linda Glaz said…
Beyond excited for you, Jess. You deserve the kudos!
Unknown said…
OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm so excited for you!!!
You, me, and Meg have to get together to celebrate! :)

Big celebratory hugs to you.
CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so excited for you. It was so fun to read about your journey, and you've inspired me to keep going.

ali cross said…
Congratulations Jessica! So happy for you!
Anonymous said…
Hi Jessica!

Came over after hearing about you on Laila's blog, and certainly glad I did!
I LOVED this post. As a struggling writer working his way towards publication, it is always nice to have a road map to follow. Not to mention extremely encouraging!

Consider me a follower.
Lauren F. Boyd said…
Many congratulations on a wonderful end result to your five-year journey! I really enjoyed reading about how it happened for you. What a great example of how we as writers must persevere and not give up - because the end result is SO worth it! :)
Woohoo! So happy for you, Jess! You've worked hard, and I'm glad someone recognized your talent.

Susan :)
Deb Shucka said…
Big congratulations to you! I'm so happy for you, and look forward to holding your book in my hand. Such an inspiring story.
Keli Gwyn said…
OK, I'm terribly late the party due to pre-conference prep, the conference, and a post-conference cold, but I'm adding a comment anyhow.

I was thrilled when I heard the news, Jessie. Mega congratulations!

Your point about being willing to revise is spot on. I wouldn't be contracted today if I hadn't heeded my awesome agent's advice, ditched the 75K words that didn't work, and rewritten the final 3/4ths of my story. A willingness to revise is essential if we want to make it in this business.
Indie Newbie said…

I can't believe I never responded to this! Congrats on your contract!!!! I'll be looking for you book and I hope to run into you at the ACFW conference.

Indie Newbie said…
Oh wait I did respond! LOL :)
Janet, said…
Congratulations, this is so exciting. The road to publication is so long and complicated. I haven't gotten the call yet, but I will keep submitting and maybe someday I will get the 'call' or 'email,' too.
Congratulations Jessica! I am so happy for you! Can't wait to see your book on the shelves!
Jessica Nelson said…
Thank you everyone! It's been really exciting. :-)I appreciate your support and love too!
Linda Glaz said…
Excellent advice Jess for writers to NEVER give up!

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