After The Contract — Guest Debra Sennefelder

The winner of the giveaway on Wednesday is: Booth Talks Books! Sherry has sent you an email.

Welcome, Debra Sennefelder! Debra and I haven’t met but a few weeks ago she left a comment on one of our blogs that she’d just signed a contract for a book! I was so happy she shared her news with us and when I had the idea for doing the After The Contract series, I hoped she’d be able to share her experiences!

I was so honored and thrilled when Sherry asked if I would write a post about my brand-spanking new contract. It took all of a nano-second to type my reply and here I am today.

debraheadshotv3“The call” came the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I was home just finishing up my lunch break from writing when the phone rang. The caller ID said it was my agent. Oh, boy. Either she had great news or bad news, like all the editors we’d sent the submission to passed on it and made the suggestion I should give up writing forever (I know, that seems extreme but it’s how a writer’s mind works). Since it was 50/50, I took a deep breath and answered the call. She gave me the news. Good news! Kensington Publishing had offered me a 3-book contract for my Food Blogger Mystery series. That phone call was about to change my life (maybe a little too dramatic?) but truly things were about to change.

I was speechless (rare). My dream publisher wanted to buy my book. Three books. I recovered and somehow managed to have a coherent conversation with my agent and then we said goodbye. I had a decision to make of whether or not to accept the offer. But first I needed to process what just had happened. I’d spent months writing the book that was now in my new editor’s hand. I’d spent years pursuing publication. I’d spent years learning the craft of writing. And now it was actually going to happen. I was going to become a published author. The hour following the call is a blur. Text messages and phone calls to family and close friends and my critique partner. Everyone was excited and I was still in shock.

Fast forward a few weeks when I shared the news with those beyond my inner circle and was overwhelmed with everyone’s reaction. Everybody was thrilled, excited and they had loads of questions. But at that time I had little information – 3-book contract, first book due out in early 2018. Title? I wasn’t sure if the publisher would keep the title I gave the book.  I have since learned that the publisher is keeping the title so the first book is called The Uninvited Corpse.

When I first got the call and shared my good news with fellow authors I received what seems to be a never ending list of things I will need to do. Social media. Newsletter. Blog tours. Excerpts. Graphics for social media. Goodreads. Amazon author page. Website. Promotional material. Write the next book. Write the third book. My head was spinning. I was told all that I had to do now but the truth was all I had to do at that moment of receiving “the call” was to enjoy the moment. Of course I expect to have many, many more calls about offers to publish future works (hope my editor is reading) but it will never be the first call again.  I needed to enjoy the moment.

The next thing I made sure to do is breathe. With what I had to do for my editor, granted it wasn’t a lot of work but it was very important work, and writing the second book and working a full-time job and life, I could have easily dropped the ball many times. But I chose to breathe and not let everything that I needed to do overwhelm me. I think I’ve been smart, at least I hope I have, and began a spreadsheet for all of my social media for the year, I’ve set up an accounting system, I’ve started a newsletter (best to get into the routine now and you’ll find the sign-up form on my website – see, I’m honing my blatant self-promotion skills), I’ve started using my Outlook calendar for dates of blog posts and I’m heavily relying my handy-dandy organizer for notes and keeping my daily schedule on track. To think that when I got the call I thought that early 2018 was so far away but now I’m thinking early 2018 is close. Amazing how our perspective changes over time.

For the rest of December and January I kept my head down working on the second book which is due in the fall of this year. But it still didn’t feel real to me. Maybe it was because I didn’t have anything tangible besides a signed contract and a telephone conversation with my editor. You would think that would be enough but it kinda wasn’t. Then came two things that needed to be done for my editor – an author Q&A needed to be completed and feedback on the cover of the book. A cover? Wow. My book was going to have a cover. Well, of course it was and I knew that but to think about what the cover would look like? It was getting real now. To make it more real, my editor wanted the outline for book 2 by a specific date. I now had a deadline and now it was real.

Let me wrap this post up with one final thought on being in-between the signing of the contract and the release of the book.  I knew that signing the contract meant I’d be faced with a boatload of work and I prepared myself for that. What I didn’t prepare for was how much I would truly enjoy everything that I’m being tasked with doing. What’s that old saying, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life? It’s true. I don’t believe I’ll ever have another work day again.

Thank you Wickeds for letting me share my contract experience with everyone. Before I go I’d like to remind everyone that dreams to come true. Believe and don’t give up.

Readers: What dreams have you refused to give up on?


32 Thoughts

  1. Debra, welcome and congratulations. I know I’ve seen your news on the Guppies list but as a Wicked Cozy I’ll say it here, too – three cheers! Kensington is an excellent publishing home – all six of us now have at least one multi-book contract there. And it sounds like you’re doing all the right things, including enjoying the ride. I started off with a full-tme job, too, and it’s tight sometimes, but totally worth it.

    Will you tell us a bit more about the series, the protagonist, and how you got the idea? I love the premise and can’t wait to read book one.

    1. Thank you, Edith. Everyone has been so kind and I appreciate it very much. It has been rough but you’re right, it’s so worth it. I got the idea for the series because at one point I stepped away from fiction writing and I began a food blog. I wrote the blog for a few years but missed writing fiction. It became clear, I was a fiction writer at heart. But I loved my food blog. Working full-time I couldn’t write a book, write a food blog and go to a job 40 hours a week, something had to give. I closed the blog and as I was brainstorming ideas for a cozy, it was obvious, Hope is a food blogger. I get to combine two things I love.

    1. Thanks, Gram. I hope you’ll enjoy it. The Uninvited Corpse will be available in April 2018. Have a great day!

  2. I’m happy to share more info about the series.

    While working as a magazine editor in NYC Hope Early began a food blog (Hope at Home) for fun and never intended it to be a full-time job. She had an opportunity to appear on a baking competition show and it’s after that her life started to unravel and she finds herself unemployed, divorced and restoring an antique farmhouse in her hometown of Jefferson, Connecticut. She thought her biggest problem was driving traffic to her blog, but discovering two dead bodies and clearing her sister of their murders have Hope trading her Google Analytics for amateur sleuthing. When there’s an attempt on her own life, Hope has no choice but to uncover the murderer before she becomes the next corpse du jour.

    I loved writing the first book and I’m having an even better time writing book two. I can’t wait to share Hope and all of her peeps with the world. And that will be in April 2018! I just found out my release date.

  3. Welcome to the crazy writers universe (the universe is crazy, but the jury’s still out on the writers). Kensington is a great house these days, and they do right by cozies. It sounds like you have a great support network. (One hint: don’t try to act on all the suggestions at once!)

  4. Congratulations on your book contract!! I look forward to reading The Uninvited Corpse even though I have to wait over a year! I enjoyed your blog and laughed at your comment about the cover of the book ~

    1. Thanks, Celia. I’m glad you had a chance to check out my blog. It’s so hard to have to wait until next April. I keep reminding myself, good things come to those who wait. 🙂 I guess this will be a practice of patience for me.

  5. I know that hands-too-shaky-to-text-properly-barely-able-to-dial-the-phone situation well, Debra. It’s one of my favorite memories of that day when I was too excited to even try to be cool or nonchalant. 🙂

    1. LOL! It’s a great memory to hold onto, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to so many more good memories. Have a great day!

  6. Thanks, Debra, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. For this non-writer, it’s nice to learn what goes on behind the scenes. It makes me appreciate all your work all the more. Congrats again on the contract.

    1. Hi Ginny, I’m so happy that I was able to share my experience with you. Behind the scenes can be a roller coaster for an author and it’s great to be able to share the great moments we have. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  7. Congrats, Debra! Looking forward to your book — and welcome to the Kensington family! Oh, and things will really start to snowball as your release date nears– be sure to keep breathing!

  8. Welcome to the posting side of the Wicked Cozy Authors blog, Debra! And hearty congratulations on your first mystery novel sale. That is so fantastic. Can’t wait to see that cover.

  9. Deb, I am so excited for you. You are right – it seems like 2018 will be here in no time. Your spreadsheet idea is great – I’m totally stealing😀

    1. Hi Shari, Definitely use the spreadsheet. I’ve been keeping track of my FB posts which are just a few so far but as I begin promoting the book as I get closer to release day I’m going to be glad that I set up the system to keep track. Spreadsheets are our friends. 🙂

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