How BOT WARS sold

Friday, September 16, 2011

I announced Wednesday night on Twitter that my awesome ninja agent, Joanna, sold my middle grade novel, BOT WARS. So I thought I’d share a little more about how it came to be.

After ALTERED sold and before the editorial letter arrived, I wanted to work on something new. I wrote some pages of a YA fantasy. Then I wrote thirty pages that were loosely based on the life of one of the ALTERED villains.

But then, one night, in the mood for something totally different, I dug up an old Word document named Robot Wars.

I had written a paragraph of this story over a year ago. Long before ALTERED was ever an idea. But that’s as far as I got. One paragraph was all I had. I didn’t even know what was supposed to happen in the story, or who the characters really were, or what caused the Robot Wars in the first place.

I had always loved the voice of the main character, Trout, and I knew someday I wanted to tell his story. So I started playing around with it, and before I knew it, I had close to 40 pages.

I sent an email to one of my good writer friends, Deena, saying, “Can you read some of this MG I’m working on and tell me whether or not it sucks?” Thankfully, Deena not only read the pages, she was also extremely encouraging and kind with her words. So I emailed Joanna and asked if she’d take a look. I think I might have said something like, “I have this MG I’m working on and I don’t know if it’s any good or not, so would you be willing to read to tell me if I’m crazy?”

We already had a scheduled phone call the next night for something ALTERED related, and during that phone call, Jo told me she wanted to shop BOT WARS. I worked on the submission package and we officially went out with it in June. Eight days later, I had a phone chat with Kate Harrison at Dial where I rambled about my ideas for Book #2.

That Friday, we had an offer. In that same phone conversation, I also found out about the German offer for ALTERED. It was a crazy amazing day. I will never, ever forget it. My boss told me to go home early, and while her reason was simply that she was happy for me, I think she worried I could not be trusted to accurately count money.

Jo and I talked deal points that night and we agreed that Dial was a fantastic place to be and that Kate was an amazing editor to work with. So I think I squeeed and said, “YAAAYYYY! I accept! I accept!”

The following Tuesday, it was official. BOT WARS was going to be a Dial/Penguin book!

And just a few weeks later, I put in my notice at the day job. My last day at the bank was July 18th.

If you had told me a year ago that I’d be writing full-time, that I’d have five books under contract, I would have laughed and said, “That’s crazy. You’re crazy. Those are pipe dreams, my friend.”

But I am here and I am doing those things. So if you’re still writing, if you’re unagented, unpublished, whatever stage you’re at, remember so much can change in such a short amount of time. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have, consider what may come in the next week, the next month, the next year. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating---If you quit today, you’ll never find out if tomorrow is the day everything will change.

25 comments on "How BOT WARS sold"
  1. I smiled the entire time I read this. I'm so happy for you! It sounds like all your dreams are coming true. I'm so happy that your hard work and perseverance are paying off.

    Here's to five years turning into ten into a lifetime!

  2. I LOVE this!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Awesome. Awesome. Congrats.

  3. Awesome story! There are days when I feel like giving up, but then I read stories like this and it gives me so much hope. Thanks, Jenn!!! :)

  4. I know I've been away for a while, but I wanted to reemerge and say:


    I can't wait to see your name and book on the NY Times. ^_^


  5. This is AMAZING. (With more amazingness sure to follow, I bet.) Congrats, Jen! It's so inspiring to see your writing journey unfold like this after all this time. :)

  6. WAY! TO! GO! (Coming over from the blueboards...)

  7. This is the MOST INCREDIBLY WONDERFUL NEWS!!!!! Thanks for my smile today!



    Yes, this! Thanks for the reminder!
    "If you quit today, you’ll never find out if tomorrow is the day everything will change."

  9. Amity---Thank you so much! And thanks for reading. :D

    Martha---YAY! Thanks!

    Jaime---NEVER give up! If it's something you love, keep pushing. :D

  10. Tyson---You know how to make a girl smile, ya know? NY Times? I hope you're right! Thanks for reemerging!

    Heather---Thank you so much! Certainly seems like it took a long time to get here, and now things are happening like whoa. So grateful for everything, and everyone who's been there along the way. Including you, missy! :D

  11. Samantha---WHOO! Thanks! :P

    Hardygirl---Thank you! I love hearing that my post made someone smile. That makes me smile. :)

    Christina---Thank you for reading and stopping by! :P

  12. WOW *runs around in happy circles*
    Congratulations Jenn! Wow, that's amazing.

  13. I just finished reading the article you linked to on the right and I found it really touching. I just recently turned 16 in May. I felt tears in my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing! And just thought I should say your son is really adorable.

  14. Oh this is such wonderful news!
    Congratulations on your all five books, writing full time and most of all for finding a voice you loved and running with it!

    WAY to go!!!

  15. What a fantastic, inspiring story! Congrats to you.

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  17. Oh my gosh, so much wonderful!!! Yay, congrats!!!!!

  18. Ezmirelda---Thank you so much! And thank you for reading my Dear Teen Me post. It was so hard writing it, but so glad I shared it. I've heard from so many wonderful people about it.

    And my son thanks you for that comment! :D

  19. Angela---Thank you!! So much has happened this year. It's still hard to believe!

    Ron---Thank you so much! :P

    Krisin---Thank you! Thanks for reading! :D

    Heather---YAY! Thanks! :D So excited to share after sitting on the news for so long.

  20. I can't believe I missed this on twitter, but Marty told me about it at critique today. Congratulations! I can't wait to read it.

  21. This is so awesome. Can't wait to read both Altered and Bot Wars!

  22. Vonna --- Thanks!! I was pretty excited to share with Marty! :)

    Elizabeth --- Thanks so much! I can't wait for the books to be out there in the world. :)