Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How I Sold to Harlequin by Melinda Curtis

You’ve probably heard it said that when an editor buys your work, they also buy you.  Well, I really took that to heart.  I decided to target Harlequin Superromance before I was published, then watched for their editorial staff to be listed as attendees at various writer conferences.  That’s right.  I was an editor stalker.

And when I say stalker, I mean it only in the nicest sense.  I submitted work months in advance of the small conferences and then a few weeks prior to the event, I’d drop them notes referencing my submitted material and mentioning I looked forward to seeing them at the conference.  After a year, my stalking paid off and I received a revision letter on one of my stories.  I completed revisions and sent the manuscript back.

One weekday morning, as I was in the shower, my husband burst into the bathroom, yanked open the shower door, and held up a towel.  Now, some of you might expect a sexy come-on, but what I got was, “Paula is on the phone.  Get out now.”  Paula being Paula Eykelhof, senior editor at Harlequin.
Dripping, I scribed my next set of revision notes on several small sheets from our phone notepad.  I made the revisions and sent the manuscript back.  Months later, Paula left a message on my answering machine, asking me if I was attending a conference in Phoenix.  I hadn’t planned on it, but I immediately signed up.  

A few days before conference, Paula asked me to meet with her after the conference sessions were over for the day.  She was late.  I was pacing.  When she finally showed up, she took me into the bar, bought me a glass of champagne, and told me she was buying my book.  I’ll always be grateful to Paula for creating such a special memory for me.

During the course of our drink, I told her I was relieved, because I thought she was going to ask me for another revision.  She laughed and told me I still had revisions to do.  She later gave me an 11-page, single spaced revision letter.  It took me eight hours just to make the revisions on the first chapter!
Have you ever gone a little nutty trying to achieve your dream?
As usual, both writers and readers are welcome to comment, but only readers are eligible to win an ebook of their choice from my backlist.

Melinda Curtis is a USA Today bestseller. Her April Heartwarming release is A Man of Influence.

P.S. Roz, do you remember this? It was at Desert Dreams and afterward we went to Tara's house.

22 comments:

  1. I love this, Melinda! Does Paula know that when you had that telephone discussion with her you were wearing only a towel and likely dripping wet! :-)

    This post is timely, since Harlequin is running a contest right now to find a new Heartwarming author: http://bit.ly/1Rx4tlX No editor stalking necessary!

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    1. Haha. I may have admitted this to Paula before

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  2. What a great story! So it's okay to stalk editors? I don't get to attend very many conferences, but I do shamelessly stalk them on twitter and instagram. At nationals last year, one of the editors recognized me from twitter...not sure if that was a good thing or not, lol.
    I just finished my first ever request for revisions and I was so excited about it....then I read where some people finish 3 or more sets of revisions only to get a rejection. But it wasn't a flat out no from the beginning, so I'll take it. :)
    I've been watching for the Heartwarming pitch opportunity since it was mentioned in Dana Grimaldi's post at the beginning of this month. I was excited to see it posted on SYTYCW yesterday. Yeah! No stalking!

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    1. I'm crossing my fingers hoping you get good news soon, LeAnne

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  3. Love this story, Melinda! Looks like all that stalking paid off nicely. :)

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  4. Oh, Melinda...how I identify. I think I had 269 comments to revise on a 300 page submission... Love your story!

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  5. Oh, I love this story, Melinda! I'm curious, was this the first book you'd ever written? I was thrilled to see the contest announcement yesterday. Harlequin is so generous with their contests.

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  6. Mel, I love that you made me laugh and inspired me in one short post. It's clear that you are as talented a stalker as you are a writer(:

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  7. What a great story!! Perseverance really did pay off for you. I liked how enthusiastic your husband was when you received the call. That was so cute. You're a very smart, talented lady. I have the same question as Jill, was it the first book you'd ever written?

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    1. I had tried to write a blaze and desire previously, Laurie

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  8. I love this story. :) I remember when you sold! I had just joined SVR and you were such an inspiration. You still are . Thanks for sharing. You've come a long way, baby!!

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  9. Champagne! How perfect! I got my call while working at a book store and as I recall, when I hung up, I was told to put out the garbage. Amazingly, it's probably as precious to me as a memory as yours is to you. Sounds like you approached the whole thing like the business woman you are.

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  10. Mel, I love your story, and I do remember the conference and going to Tara's house for pizza. I remember you were walking on clouds, but worried too about more revisions. I laugh about you having to get out of the shower. I got my call from Paula at work when I had 3 unhappy college students standing at my desk demanding to see the dean I worked for. Hey, we'll have to have a toast in San Diego just to celebrate where we are now.

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  11. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. Love the shower scene.

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  12. Melinda, you have such an inspiring story. It shows your determination to make your dream come true and your editor giving you a chance to do it. It is such an inspiration to others who would love to write for Harlequin.

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    1. Congratulations Sean! You are my winner! Please email me at melinda @ melindacurtis.net with what book from my backlist you would like. You can find a list here: http://www.amazon.com/Melinda-Curtis/e/B001HCZ1D6/

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  13. I, too, am grateful for Paula’s help. I’d talked with her at many conferences. She remembered one of my stories and suggested I submit it to the new Heartwarming series. That’s how my first – Just Like Em – came into being.

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