Further chat with author and teacher Deborah Bouziden…
Your first book, Texas Wildflower, how long did it take you to write it? What were the obstacles to publication? How did you meet or get your editor?
SW: Texas Wildflower was the third book I wrote, the first to sell. I submitted the partial manuscript on my own–unsolicited, over the transom–and received the usual round of rejections (which never really daunted me), and then a phone call from an editor–Wendy McCurdy who at the time (1986) worked at Kensington Books. She requested the full manuscript, which I proceeded to finish–ON A TYPEWRITER. IN TWO WEEKS–and send in. All 650 pages of it. A few weeks later, we had a deal. It was a very bad deal on my part. Without an agent or network of writers to tap into, I agreed to substandard terms. But on the upside, my first book was published, and doors started to open for me.
Wendy McCurdy has worked for several publishers and for Doubleday Book Club. I’ll always be grateful to her for giving me a shot with that first sale.
The sequel to this story is that John Scognamiglio, another editor I like a lot, is now in charge of my books at Kensington (Texas Wildflower and two anthologies). He has twice reissued a revised edition of the book and very kindly adjusted my royalty percentage to a much more standard rate, and sales are good!
Moral of the story–from that very first sale, be good to the people you work with and take nothing for granted. Every book matters. Oh, and take a close look at the reversion clause in your contract before signing. Make sure there’s a clock so the moment the non-digital version of the book goes out of print, you get the rights back. And–hugely important–join the Authors Guild as soon as you are offered a deal from a publisher.