Next in our publishing origin stories is C.L. Polk’s journey. Be sure to check out Robin Lovett’s story from earlier!
Did twitter get me a book deal? Well, not exactly. But it helped…
Step one: I wrote a book.
Seriously, this is step one. You cannot use twitter to help you until you’ve done this part. I wrote a book. I revised the book. I edited the book. It took a little over a year to do this step, because I interrupted my process by writing a book length fanfic for the fun of it. And then I was ready for…
Step two: I put it out there on twitter.
I got a querying buddy, @alexisdaria, and we made a pact to start querying at the same time. We shared a goal – query 50 agents for our books. We did our research, made a list, and sent our queries, sample pages, and synopses. I did my querying gradually. I started with just three agents, and then submitted another query about once a week.
Next, I designed twitter-sized pitches and participated in pitch parties. Here is the pitch that caught the interest of Caitlin McDonald, now my agent, back in March’s #pitmad party: “Sherlock Holmes meets Fullmetal Alchemist when an ex army doctor teams up with a magician to solve his patient’s murder.”
I entered Twitter-based mentoring contests–and I got in one! @michellehazen helped me develop the story from 76k to 83k in an incredibly fun month of developmental edits. She saw things that I couldn’t see, had super suggestions, and I really loved the whole process of bringing more depth to the story.
Step three: I weathered rejection.
Lest anyone think I just sent a query and everything came up roses, I got plenty of form rejections. I waited a long time on partial responses, only to get rejections. I didn’t get into the first (or the second! Or the third!) mentor contest I entered. I submitted my pitch to pitch parties and didn’t get a single bite of interest. I drowned my sorrows in artisinal sorbet, wrote a draft of a contemporary romance, and kept on trying.
I was closing in on my 50 queries goal in September and pondering what my next step was going to be. But then everything happened so fast. I wound up with exactly who I was hoping for – Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary, and the publisher I hoped for: Tor.com.
Twitter definitely helped me meet my goals through pitch parties, mentor contests, and the interconnectedness of friends talking to each other. But none of it could have happened without a finished book.
C. L. Polk wrote her first story in grade school and still hasn’t learned any better. After spending years in strange occupations and wandering western Canada, she settled in southern Alberta with her rescue dog Otis. She has a fondness for knitting and spends too much time on twitter at @clpolk.