My First Time is a regular feature in which writers talk about virgin experiences in their writing and publishing careers, ranging from their first rejection to the moment of holding their first published book in their hands. Today’s guest is Valerie Joan Connors, the author of the novels Shadow of a Smile, In Her Keeping and Give Me Liberty. She is the current President of the Atlanta Writers Club, an organization with more than 600 active members and a 100-year history in the Atlanta area. Valerie has a B.S. in Business from Portland State University. During business hours, she’s the CFO of an architecture, engineering and interior design firm. Valerie lives in Atlanta with her husband and two dogs. Click here to visit her website.
My First Publishing Contract
After submitting to twelve agents and one editor, I decided to try a smaller publishing house. Their submission guidelines said they wanted a full manuscript, a synopsis and a query letter, and they accepted un-agented work. I put together the materials, sent them off electronically, and promptly forgot all about it.
I made the requested change and began the story in a slightly different place. A week later I signed my first traditional publishing contract. I had struggled for months with the right beginning for the story, and my editor, Deborah Smith, found it immediately. Not only was Deborah an amazing editor, she also mentored me through the entire publishing process, and patiently answered all my questions. I told her that in spite of having spent thirty-five years in the business world, with publishing I felt like a kid on the first day of school, not knowing where the bathroom is. In Her Keeping, will always hold a special place in my heart, not only because of the little tiger cub that inspired the story, but because it was the first time that I felt comfortable saying, without hesitation, that I was a writer.
Author photo by Patrick Connors