Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Driver's Seat

I've talked a lot about how an author should act professionally, the downside of exclusives, and mistakes I've seen authors make. Well, very recently I worked with an author who did everything right, and since I like to be positive every once in a while and occasionally share some good news, I asked Christine Wells permission to tell her story, or at least my side of it. To read more about Christine's work, check out her blog at

Recently Christine Wells came to me because she'd received an offer from a major publishing house. Her historical romance had finaled in a number of contests (including the very prestigious Golden Heart), and because of her contest entries she had received at least three requests for the full manuscript from editors. An aside here: While I caution against submitting blindly to publishing houses (for fear you'll burn your chances by submitting to the wrong editors), when you get specific requests from contests or conferences you should most definitely send it along.

Because I'm so far behind in my reading, I had Christine's proposal under consideration for quite some time but hadn't had the chance to read it. Smart woman that she is, however, soon after receiving the offer (hours, not days), Christine contacted me and, I presume, all the other agents who were also reviewing her work, to let them know of the offer. Rather than negotiate on her own, she made the decision to bring in an agent. Immediately upon receiving Christine's email I grabbed the proposal (dropping everything else) and started reading. It was good, very good. So I asked her to email the entire manuscript. On my train ride to lunch that day I continued to read. It didn't take long for me to realize that not only was this a very well-written book, but it was written by an author I'd love to represent. Another aside: Just because an author has an offer doesn't guarantee that I'll take her on. Since I'm hoping we're going to be in this for the long haul, I need to love the work and feel passionate about the author.

So I offered representation. And Christine accepted. I'm hoping she'll comment on how things went from her end, but I know that Christine was talking with other agents and I'm sure I'm not the only agent who loved her writing. So far things are going swimmingly. I feel very lucky to have added another talented author to my list. Especially one I'm enjoying working with so much.

Read on tomorrow and I'll share the rest of the story.



Christine Wells said...

Oh, I love that title--'The Driver's Seat'. It certainly didn't seem that way at the time! I feel like I've told my 'call story' so often lately, it's become a legend in my own mind, but if anyone's interested, I wrote an article about it on my blog on Tuesday, August 8.

Here, I'll just say that although I used to be a lawyer, it never entered my head to negotiate my own publishing contract. As soon as I received that initial offer, I emailed updated query letters to a number of agents. I had already done a lot of research on the top agents representing romance so I had no trouble deciding which agents to target. I had been impressed with Jessica because she provided a very insightful critique of a full manuscript a friend of mine submitted to her. That favorable impression was confirmed by her response to my query. Her strategy for handling the sale of my manuscript exactly tallied with what I had hoped for and she has been responsive and supportive ever since, far exceeding my expectations. So thank you, Jessica!

Kate Douglas said...

Congratulations, Christine! Jessica "was" THE CALL for me--she negotiated my entire deal from the very beginning and is the one who called to tell me my story had been accepted. Not only would I not want to negotiate my own contract, I know for a fact I would not be published in NY without my agent...rather than being in the driver's seat, I feel more like a grateful passenger.

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, congratulations on your wonderful sale. I can't wait to see your book in print. And it sounds like you were so lucky with Jessica, a match made in heaven.

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Kate and Anna, for your congratulations! I feel very lucky to have Jessica. Although I brought an offer to her, she negotiated a much better deal than I could have done on my own. And that's quite apart from everything she has done for me since. Agents do so much more than negotiate the publishing contract. And besides all the business side of it, Jessica remembers all those little touches that make us needy writers feel a little special:) Well above the call of duty!

Anne said...

Congratulations, Christine.

Your book sale is an excellent story.

I look forward to seeing your book on shelves.

Thank you for sharing this story, Jessica.

Denise Rossetti said...

Congratulations to both Jessica and Christine on a great new professional and personal relationship. I, for one, am expecting great things from you both - not that I want you to feel any pressure, mind! LOL