If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I love me an inspirational success story. Which is why I asked Mandy Hubbard, YA author extraordinaire, to do a guest blog today. I do not represent Mandy, she has a wonderful agent all of her own, but I am beyond lucky and blessed to have Mandy as an intern at the Bent Agency. Her energy and knowledge and good cheer astound me, and the story of her path to publication amazes me.
At TBA, we do an intern conference call every other week. Many of our interns are writers at various stages in their careers and sometimes we discuss the trials and tribulations of getting published and offer each other advice and encouragement. Mandy told us how she’d happened to get published and I thought it was such a great story that I asked her to tell it here.
This is what I hope you’ll get from it:
Mandy never gave up.
Her superagent never gave up (I’m very impressed!)
See what happens when you never give up?
Okay, over to Mandy…..
And thank you, to Jenny, for having me. 🙂
My name is Mandy, and I’m an author. (Why do I suddenly feel like I’m in AA?) My debut, Prada & Prejudice (Razorbill/Penguin) came out in June. I also have four more projects in the works with Harlequin, Razorbill, and Llewellyn Flux. You can learn more about my books at my website (www.mandyhubbard.com)
Eighteen months ago, life was different for me. I was lucky enough to have an agent, but after two years, the phrase “my agent” had lost some of its novelty. My first project didn’t fare well and had been retired, and Prada & Prejudice had racked up over 20 rejections, from every major house in NYC. Every day, I feared the email from my agent saying it was time to give up and move on.
In February of 2008, when Prada & Prejudice was in its 8th draft, I received my third revision request. Except it was really a rewrite request, because all they liked was the concept. And the title. But the rest? It had to go.
Even while I was still hitting my head against my desk, I emailed my agent and told her I’d do it. I opened a blank word document and started over. I never once opened the old book, never copied a single word. I spent six weeks writing and polishing the first hundred pages of the 9th draft of Prada & Prejudice. We sent it back to the editor, and then I crossed my fingers.
Two weeks later I was rejected.
My agent, undaunted, told me she’d give it another shot. After all my work, it was practically a brand-new book. So we put our heads together and came up with a list of six or seven publishers. I knew in my heart that it was the last hurrah. If it didn’t sell, it never would.
In May, it went out. Two weeks later, we received not one, but two offers. When I got the news, it was like a freight train was roaring in one ear and out the other. I couldn’t hear a thing, and I was convinced my heart might actually break one of my ribs, it was beating so hard.
The final tally? Twenty-six rejections, almost two years on submission, and nine drafts. What’s more? The editor who purchased PRADA & PREJUDICE rejected it twice before offering it. Since P&P has been published, it’s received positive reviews from SLJ and Publishers Weekly, been featured in TIME magazine (why yes, I bought 5 copies, why do you ask?), and is now in its 5th printing.
There were many, many times I wanted to rip my hair out, one strand at a time. I remember the angst, the frustration, the longing. I’ve never wanted something so fiercely as I wanted to be published. And yet it’s one of the most difficult things to achieve, because it’s a dream that relies on someone else granting it.
A few months ago, I went into my blog and unlocked the posts dealing with rejection, despair, frustration—the ones most people don’t seem to want to share. My hope is that some authors will find in encouragement and realize that there is a happy ending, if only you work at it. They can be found here: http://mandywriter.livejournal.com/tag/the+road+to+publication
All I can say is: It’s worth it. It’s worth every second of the blood, sweat, and tears it takes.
The difference between a published author and an unpublished one is one day. It only takes one day, one moment, for your whole world to shift. I firmly believe that if you work hard at improving your craft and you simply do not give up, your day will come.
The question is: will you quit before then?