The Long, Long Road

Last week I announced that Curiosity Quills Press will be publishing GYRE, my New Adult fantasy novel.
Publishing. My. New Adult fantasy novel.

PM DEAL POSTING

Typing those words means more than I can ever convey, although I’m going to try because GYRE has been a three-year journey so far, and I know it’s really just beginning. But getting to this point has been a rollercoaster, and I think it’s time I shared that story.
So, here is the long, long road GYRE took to get to a pub deal.
I drafted GYRE during NaNoWriMo 2012, which resulted in a 62,000-word hot mess of a manuscript. I spent the next couple of months rewriting and revising alongside a writing group where I met two of my four CPs (say hi to Talynn L. and Rene Gilley everybody!). By the summer of 2013, I had a new draft but it still didn’t feel right. So, I started another revision and met my third critique partner, Jennifer Blackwood. I revised and revised and revised, and then in December of 2013, I was selected as an alternate on Julie Sondra Decker’s Pitch Wars team. I also was paired to swap chapters with another entrant, who became my fourth CP. Hi Cheyenne! With both Julie and Cheyenne’s utterly amazing guidance and feedback, I rewrote the first half of my manuscript and queried a few agents. All I got in return were crickets. Then my Pitch Wars entry tanked.
It was around then that my CP Cheyenne shared an image with me during a particularly low period.
 You never know how close
After seeing that, how could I stop?
In the summer of 2014 I went to the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans, where I met a group of great YA and NA writers. I spent the week hanging out with Twitter friends, two of my CPs, and others who just got it.
RT 2014 NOLA
I learned this is a powerful thing, to be with other writers for a length of time. It’s not that people who don’t write don’t get the highs and lows of writing, revising, and querying a book. It’s that other writers do. And I think being surrounded by people at all walks of their writing careers opened my eyes a lot.
Renewed with inspiration and an idea of how to fix GYRE, I rewrote it over three months, sending it off in acts to my CPs for their approval. I was pretty sure they’d be tired of the story by now, but every time I set out to write something new, I found I couldn’t let GYRE go. GYRE was the story I wanted to write, but I knew this whole thing didn’t have much mileage left. So, after recruiting beta readers and sending the manuscript off, I promised myself and my CPs that if nothing became of querying agents and small presses this time around, I’d shelve GYRE indefinitely. And believe me when I say I was nearing that point when the unbelievable happened.
I sent off my first round of queries in November, and a second wave between Thanksgiving and Christmas. About 20 in all, and all to agents. Then I settled in for the long haul. Twitter pitch contests came and went, and given that GYRE had already been through them a few times, I pitched sparingly. Over NaNoWriMo 2014, I wrote a new manuscript set in a new world with new characters, and, at the start of January, I was ready to begin revising that manuscript.
Then the #SecretShop Twitter pitch event happened, and Vicki Merkiel at Curiosity Quills Press favorited my pitch. FAVORITED MY PITCH. I was over the moon. I’d looked at CQ on the first day I made my “to query” list for small presses back in 2013. I’d followed them since then, and they were the first press on my list to query if nothing became of my agents list. So I sent it off without hesitation and settled in for a long wait. I’d already been rejected by my top agents, and wasn’t sure what I would do if I got rejected by my top small press.

Tweet

Only three days had passed when Vicki requested my full. I can’t even remember now who I told about it because I’d kept my whole querying process on the DL this time. At this point, I was pretty convinced GYRE would never sell to agents because, if nothing else, it was NA spec fic. And I knew that even if I found an agent, it would probably end up at a small press, and that was more than okay with me. Still, I worried that the age category and genre would do me in. I was losing hope, guys. Big time. The entire time Vicki had my full, I was making plot notes on how I could turn GYRE into a YA fantasy and try to sell it that way.
Then something crazy happened. At around 11PM on a Thursday night, aka way past my bedtime, I checked my phone before bed. I saw Vicki had followed me, and then I read Vicki’s tweets to maybe get some clue as to why she’d suddenly done so. I saw she tweeted about an “amazing manuscript” she’d just finished, and I pretty much decided I wasn’t sleeping that night. I sent an amazingly excited freak-out text to the only CP I was sure was awake at that time, and we virtually jumped in excitement, though accepted that maybe it wasn’t me Vicki was referring to.
Eventually I fell asleep, thus starting the longest day of my life. I was sure I’d hear one way or the other about my manuscript that Friday. But by that afternoon, when I hadn’t heard anything, I started to think my initial reaction was right: it wasn’t me. And I accepted it. Sort of.
At around 9PM that night, I received THE EMAIL. The one from Vicki saying she loved GYRE and that she and CQ wanted to acquire it. I was on Skype with my boyfriend at the time and shared my screen to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Someone wanted to publish my book? They wanted to publish GYRE? I was beside myself, and apparently made unintelligible happy noises. But I collected myself long enough to send my CP, the one who’d received my freak-out texts the night before, the good news. She responded:

Rene's Text

And she was right. At that moment, I realized I’d never given up. Not even when I was down and resigned to shelving GYRE. I had never actually gotten to the point of totally giving up. I wanted to believe I could sell a NA speculative fiction story, because those stories are important, too. Because I’d grown up on them. Not only that, but until that day, I’d done a lot of things halfway. I’d either given up or just not finished a lot of things in my life. Writing books was even one of those things.
But GYRE wasn’t. GYRE was one of the few things that has stayed consistent since November 2012, and receiving that email felt like the ultimate reassurance from the world.

Success

I promptly told the rest of my critique partners and my alpha reader the good news. Then I settled in for a long week while I waited to hear if anyone else with a full also wanted to offer. No one did, but there was never any contest. Curiosity Quills has been my Number One choice from the start.
Now I’m happy to say that I’m an author with Curiosity Quills. A New Adult speculative fiction author with Curiosity Quills. And I have to say, I think I’ve found the best home for GYRE that there is. Vicki and the whole team at CQ couldn’t have been more welcoming or excited, and I cannot wait to start this next leg of the journey with them.
I just want to say thank you to my critique partners and alpha reader. You five never let me give up, and you never gave up on GYRE, either. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible. Without you, I probably would have given up months ago. So, thank you. I love you all <3.

 

And if anyone’s wondering, here are my stats:
Queries sent to agents: 19
Queries sent to small presses: 2
No response: 7
Rejections: 11
Full requests: 3 (1 to an agent, 2 to small presses)
Publication offer: 1, from CQ <3

Jessica Gunn
Jessica Gunn is a New Adult fantasy and sci-fi author with Curiosity Quills Press.

12 Comments

  1. I’m SO SO SO proud of and excited for you and all that is to come!! GYRE grabbed me from the start, and it was incredible to see you polishing it along the way. Chelsea’s story is so fresh and so intriguing, and the voices are so real and relatable. I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I’m so glad we met in the middle of all this!! <3 xxx CONGRATULATIONS again!! 🙂

  2. What?! Wow! That’s incredible. 😀 I can’t believe this finally happened for you!!! So happy I could play a small part in helping you fiddle this baby into shape and get it to its perfect home! You rock. 🙂

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