Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Call to Beat All Calls, by Sara Humphreys

I can't really tell my call story without telling you a bit about my publishing journey. It's slightly unorthodox, at least that's what they tell me.

Back in 2008 I had finished my very first manuscript and had the audacity to send it out...to everyone. Agents, publishers, editors--you name it. If they published romance I wanted them to take a look at my book. Clearly, I didn't have the vaguest notion about what I was doing. No agent. No RWA chapter because I was under the mistaken impression that you had to be published to be involved in RWA. Ummm no.

Let's face it. I had NO idea what I was doing.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I was rejected a lot and by just about everyone. Oh, I had several nibbles, requests for full manuscripts and so on but mostly they said, "No thank you."

By the summer of 2009 my book was available as an ebook and with some wrangling, print on demand. However, I realized pretty quickly that my book wasn't going to be on all the shelves in North America, or anywhere else for that matter, in that format... so I took a new approach.

I decided that I would put out this little ebook and market my ass off. I'd get some buzz going and use that to get the attention of an agent who would then sign me and help me sell my series to a major publisher....and ultimately that's what happened.

I had mustered up some decent buzz about The Amoveo Legacy. Since it was in print-on-demand, I hustled at the bookstores and organzied about 12 book signings throughout various Borders and BN's throughout the Northeast. This helped get my book floating around from CRM to CRM at the various stores. These CRM's were kind enough to tell the illustrious Sue Grimshaw about it and anyone who knows Sue, knows how incredibly supportive she is of authors!

Next step: I needed an agent.

Over the years, I've realized that you need balls-like-church-bells if you expect to get anywhere. No guts, no glory...and all that jazz.

That being said...I was at a charity event featuring Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, both of whom are signing books for the attendees. As I stood off to the side waiting for my friends, I noticed an opening with Carol. I said a small prayer that I wouldn't completely mortify myself, marched right up to her, introduced myself and told her my story as quickly as I could.

Basically it boiled down to, "I really need a good literary agent to help me take my series to the next level. Can you suggest anyone?"

To my utter shock she said, "Sure. Jeanne Dube of Forte Literary Management is great. Send her your work and tell her I told you to contact her. You can use my name."


As I wrote Jeanne's address down on a cocktail napkin, I muttered thankyouthankyouthankyou like some kind of savant and got out of the way so she could sign more books.

With fingers crossed, I sent my book and marketing plan to Jeanne. About six weeks later, my cellphone rang with an unfamiliar phone number from NYC...and it was Jeanne.

I'll never forget it.

I'd had a very long day at work and was walking down the street lugging various bags and bracing myself for the body slams/hugs from my four boys. The air was crisp, cold, clean and held the hint of wood burning in a fireplace from one of the houses nearby. When I realized who it was on the other end of the phone I dropped everything else in my hands onto the sidewalk and had my first chat with Jeanne outside on my street.

Long story short (too late) Jeanne agreed to sign me, I bought back the rights to my series and then she set out to sell it in mass market.

Imagine my delight when Jeanne called me and said, "Sara...I sold your books."

I cried, squealed and jumped up and down in my kitchen like a lunatic. We'd done it! Jeanne sold my Amoveo Legend series to Deb at Sourcebooks in a 5 book deal. It was more than I'd dreamed possible.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be with Sourcebooks because there's some serious girl power here. SB is full of smart, creative, fun, thoughtful, open-minded, and reader-centric people.
I've thanked Jeanne time and again for hooking me up with exactly the right publisher and editor for me. Deb Werksman? I mean come on! How did I get this lucky?

So that's it. That's my crazy and circuitous route to publishing.

However, the journey is really just beginning. Unleashed (Book# 1 in the series) has been completely rewritten and has undergone major editing (Thank you, Deb!) and is being released October 1, 2011.

Since I'm super excited about the upcoming release, I'm going to give away a signed ARC to one lucky person who leaves a comment here by 11:59 pm on 7/12/11. Just post a comment here on the blog about why you love romance and you'll be entered. Be sure to leave me your email so that we can follow up and I can send you your prize.

You can always find more info on my website http://www.sarahumphreys.com/

One more thing. When I was writing this, I couldn't help but remember this scene from "When Harry Met Sally". Enjoy!


  1. My dad has a saying, "You have to gnaw some things to DEATH," meaning proceed relentlessly in the direction of your goals. Yours is that kind of story, and when October gets here and that lovely cover is on the shelves, all your tenacity, ingenuity, and determination will have a wonderful result indeed.
    I'm off to post your giveaway at Barbara Vey's Beyond Her Book Party FB friends group. Abs like that deserve some appreciation.

    GREAT story.

  2. Hi Grace, Your dad must've hung out with my dad. LOL. Thank you for the lovely words of encouragement and for sharing the giveaway in cyberspace! I would have to agree that those are some delicious looking abs. All my girlfriends, and some of my guy friends, want his number. By the way, congrats on hitting the NYT list!
    Thanks again!

  3. Loved your story, Sara!!! Love your cover and it goes to show that you've got to pursue your dreams no matter how much others say no. My dad always said, since we're into famous dad quotes here, "You can do whatever your mind tells you that you can do." And I definitely believe in his sage advice. :)

  4. LOL! This reminds me of the way I went about getting published: Backwards! Congrats on the upcoming series! I hope it sells millions!

  5. Sara,
    I meet you at a Borders a couple of years ago in Watertown, NY. I thought you were such an incredible person in just the few minutes we talked. I bought one
    Of your books, read it and passed it to a friend who keeps asking when the next one is coming. Lol. After we read it I added it to the libraries collection (if you don't remember me I am a director for a small public library called Harrisville Free Library).
    I am so glad all of your hard work got you where you wanted to be. I believe strongly if you work hard and are persistent then you will eventually have the things in life that you desire. If something comes to easy sometimes we don't appreciate it the same way as something we worked so hard to get.
    I will be making sure I switch out the old copy with the new when it is published. I look forward to reading it and passing it along to the patrons of the library.
    Best Wishes,
    Nicole Spencer

  6. And that's the way it's done! Aren't you glad you jumped in there with both feet and kept after it?

  7. Wonderful story Sara. It goes to show that not all publishing journeys are the same. Kudos to you for having the guts to approach Carol Higgins Clark and ask for agent suggestions. And it worked out beautifully for you.

  8. HI Terry, Sounds like you're dad is a smart cookie too. I've always been a firm believer that persistence pays off!

  9. Hi Cheryl, It's nice to know I'm not the only one who did all of this in an unusual way. Thanks for the continued support and well wishes.

  10. Hi Nicole,
    I absolutely remember you!! I'm just tickled pink that you enjoyed the original version of my book and shared it with your friends and the library! Is the Borders in Watertown still there? I'd love to come back up there this fall and do another signing. Thanks so much for stopping by. I'll be sure to keep you posted and I really hope you enjoy "Unleashed"!

  11. Hi Carolyn,
    I'm very glad that I jumped in and did it this way but I don't know if I'd suggest it to anyone else. LOL

  12. Hi Anita,
    Thanks so much! Speaking with Carol was definitely a turning point. I saw her a few months ago at another signing event, reintroduced myself to her and thanked her in person. It was great to have the chance to tell her how it all worked out!

  13. Great story about your jourhey to getting published! Lol @ having balls the size of church bells...I think it's very true...I'll admit that I've never watched the movie When Harry Met Sally ...I must be one of the few that haven't...lol..PUtting "Unleashed" on my tbb list.


  14. Hi Maria,
    Thanks so much for swinging by and for adding "Unleashed" to your TBR list. That clip form WHMS always cracks me up. My favorite line is, "Or C...you're trapped under something heavy and unable to get to the phone."

  15. Great call story but it really was your perserverance. In the long run I think it's the most important part. Congratulations and I hope you write tons of books. Romance stories call to me because they give me hope - that there really can be a HEA for everyone! And awwww to the trailer.

  16. Hi Catslady :) Perseverence is definitely a key ingredient to success. I saw a great quote once that said, "The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author is perseverence." Thanks for coming by and I hope to write tons of books for you to enjoy because everyone needs a HEA.

  17. A fabulous story, Sara! I loved reading it. I don't think I've ever heard "balls like church bells" before, but it did have a fine ring to it! :-)
    Mega congrats!

  18. I'm glad you persevered and didn't give up. Your book sounds amazing and i can't wait to add it to by TBR shelf.

    Good reading ~ Escape by Fiction :)

  19. Hi Amelia, I know that saying about the church bells is a little crass...but it does make an impression. LOL. Thanks for coming by and for the well wishes!

  20. I love how proactively you were about getting your book out there and taking it up a notch by organizing your own advertising plans. Your dedication is definitely what put you on the right track, and the networking paid off and before you know it the rest is history. It's the sort of journey I could easily imagine myself. Congratulations on your upcoming release of Unleashed.

    What I love about romance is that it celebrates love all around, and with the journey I can safely invest my emotions in a story, love the characters and their world and believe they will all be left in a happy place in the end.


  21. @escape by fiction: Thank you so much for taking the time to come by and for adding "Unleashed" to your TBR list. I do hope you'll enjoy it!

  22. I love all of these "The Call" stories. Everyone's is different and special in it's own way. I can't imagine the relief, panic and shock a writer feels when they get the call. Congratulations on your new release Sara. That cover is beyond gorgeous.

    user1123 AT comcast DOT net

  23. @Na--You're right :) Networking was and still is a key ingredient. I'm also stubborn as a billy goat which helps too. You're absolutely right about the safe journey in a romance novel. Even in the most suspenseful moments, you know it's all going to be okay. Thanks so much for coming by today!

  24. @Stacie DM--Thanks for coming over today :) I must admit that I just adore the cover. The SB design department is second to none!

  25. Great story, Sara! I wish more aspiring writers realized how important it is to be persistent and keep trying. Of course, talent, energy, and a great personality help too - and you've got all those things going for you. Plus a hot, hot cover! I think Unleashed is bound to be a huge success.

  26. Hi Joanne, Thank you so much such a nice post. You're pretty fabulous yourself! I'm always amazed to be in such great company. ;)

  27. Sara,

    Currently the Borders in Watertown is still open. It wasn't on the to be closed list yet. Hopefully it doesn't because we don't have much up here in Northern New York in the way of book stores.
    I would love to see you again. Please keep in touch and let me know if and when you are heading up this way. harlib@ncls.org is the library's email address.

  28. That's a really great story. I love stories about people who would just not give up. Good for you!

  29. Wow, that is quite some call story. Am impressed with your journey to it.

    I have loved reading romance since I first discovered it in my early teens. Happy endings can be a draw but it was that sensation of falling in love that equally appeals. Now that I am a happily married woman, I can only relive the latter vicariously so romance books fill that particular craving.

  30. @Nicole-I'm so glad to hear that your Borders is still open! I'll keep in touch for sure but if it's closed by this Fall maybe we can schedule an author event at your library. Would that be something you're interested in?

  31. @Shana-Thanks. I don't give up easily and in this particular instance it sure paid off :)

  32. @Lil- I know just what you mean about that "falling in love" feeling. There's just something about the chase....

  33. Wow! Thanks for sharing! :-)
    I love romance because of the, well, romance, and the HEA :-)


  34. @ChelseaB- I love the HEA too. Thanks so much for coming by today!

  35. Your having "Balls as Big as church bells is what gave us unleashed and e putting it on my TRL. And now you can truly say "those bells are ringing for me and my friends". lol
    I love the HEA, the characters and reading about their journey to get their HEA. Thanks for sharing.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  36. Great story, Sara!

    My mother's favorite saying was, Nothing Ventured; Nothing gained.

    I've lived by that philosophy. Yes, sometimes I get my hand slapped, but it's better than letting life and opportunities pass you by.

  37. And the winner is...... @Na! Check your email :)

  38. @Ashlyn--You and your mom are absolutely right! If you don't try then you'll never know!

  39. Great story, Sara! I love the image of you dropping everything realizing who was on the phone.

    BTW, sorry to be posting so late...I'm on deadline and my brain is a lot like oatmeal right now. ;)

  40. Sara loved your post:) Your cover rocks too!