Guest blog: Liz Selvig

26 Aug
Guest blog: Liz Selvig
Congratulations to Amy Hahn, winner of today’s $10 gift certificate from B&N or Amazon. Liz will be contacting you about your prize.
Our guest blogger today is Liz Selvig. Liz lives in Minnesota with her cradle-robbing hubby of 37 years and a Border Collie named Magic who was the model for Dug “Squirrel” the Dog in the movie UP. A member of RWA, Midwest Fiction Writers in Minnesota, and Alaska RWA, she writes contemporary romance and was the 2010 Golden Heart® winner in the Single Title Contemporary category. That book, “Songbird” was recently sold to Avon Impulse and should be available shortly after Christmas 2011.  One lucky commenter will win a $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Botching The Call

I want to thank Clarissa for inviting me today. You have a wonderful blog site—so full of awesome information and enthusiasm. It’s fun to be here. I’d like to share my Call story with you and, at the risk of looking like Dr. Doofenschmirtz (anyone else a Phineas and Ferb fan?), I’ll be as brutally honest as I can in hopes of helping others avoid my silliness.

Every writer dreams of Getting The Call.  For every published author, the time, date and place is etched in permanent memory. For every not-yet-published author, her (or his) imagination runs wild imagining how exciting the moment will be. I totally planned to throw the biggest party ever the day I sold a book. But, I’m here to tell you even the biggest dreamer can botch it. Yup. Talking about botching The Call.

Let me start in the present and tell you I did sell my book, and I’m thrilled beyond words. And very, very excited! Mind you, I don’t have a release date yet so the anticipation is nerve-wracking, and thinking about promo and sales gives me a stomach ache, but I’m drumming up promotion plans every day.  And I’m proud of myself for achieving this goal.

I just didn’t start that way.

I’ve wanted to sell a book ever since I wrote my own versions of The Black Stallion novels when I was a kid. You know: write, sell in a small bidding war :-), see the book on the shelves, follow that with signings. I did all the right things: joined RWA; entered contests; learned to take critiques learned to take rejections.  Then I entered the RWA Golden Heart® in 2010 and, to my shock and honor, won the single title contemporary category.

Soon afterward I was approached by the smart, savvy Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein of McIntosh & Otis, who became my agent. The moment I signed with her I figured my dream was a slam-dunk.

Three rejections later, she told me not to worry—today’s market is fickle.  Two more rejections garnered more “don’t worries.”   At last the moment came when she called me without setting up a phone meeting! I was painting a room at the time and I knew I’d better get away from the brushes because this was going to be great news and I didn’t want to make a disastrous mess with my jubilant dancing.

The offer was from Avon’s brand new digital platform line, Impulse.  An e-book. Huh? This wasn’t the three-book print contract of my dreams. This would be settling for second best. I was honored an editor liked my story but c’mon.

See the start of my botch job? I still had a bias against e-books. Weren’t they just for those who couldn’t make it in print? (And all my incredibly talented e-pubbed friends are, at this moment, simultaneously cursing me and singing nanny-nanny-boo-boo.)

My agent assured me this was a great offer. She wasn’t done querying her list of print houses yet, and she would mention I had someone else interested, but this was a wonderful position to be in. Tiny feelings of pride trickled in, but I’d be hard-pressed to deny that I held out a LOT of hope for the four queries still in the hands of print editors.

I got one more call. “So-and-so, from Such-and-Such is really interested. Have you ever considered a series for this book?”  “Why, yes. Yes, indeed I have.” “Great. I’ll let you know.” Here was my real offer!

Need you ask what happened? So-and-So, the last of the print editors, passed on my book. I’d failed to make the Varsity team.  My editor said the words.  “I think we should take the Avon offer. They’re really excited about the book.”

“Great!” I replied. Great. I’ve made the B-Squad.

See how badly I botched it?  I’m the only person I know who wept when I got my sale.


Before you wonderful e-published authors start running to the kitchen for rotten tomatoes, let me make my pitiful case.  I’m not older than dirt, but I am very much old enough to have grown up with only one idea of what a book should be. I had no experience with e-books, didn’t own an e-reader, didn’t see the appeal.

It took me many days to stop explaining my “second-best” offer and begin to really look at how the electronic market is booming and the print market is shrinking. I started extolling the positives of being on the cutting edge with a house like Avon. I got a wonderful note from my new editor, Tessa Woodward, and then I met her at RWA Nationals. Guess what?  My giddy, whooping, I-Sold-My-Novel moment happened in spades when Tessa looked me in the eye and said, “I Loooove your book!”  Can I just say, an in person Call totally trumps a phone Call!

So, what’s my lesson for you? If you do things right, your dreams have wings – the problem is, things with wings sometimes fly in erratic ways. You have to let them. My imagined dream took a flight path I didn’t expect. I pouted at first because, well, I’m Dr. Doofenschmirtz.  But I’m thrilled now.  And I have a book coming out after Christmas!

There’s one more lesson. If you haven’t yet embraced the new world book order, do it! Don’t be stubborn like I was. I have a brand new Nook and I love it. I’ve been reading e-books, and I love them. I will never give up my paper books, but thanks to my experience I’ve made room in my heart for the new technology. And if I sell a second book to Impulse, you can bet I won’t be botching THAT Call!!

Tell me what your dream Call was like or what you imagine it will be like. Do you have the same prejudices I did or have you been on the cutting edge all along?  I’d love to hear! And I’d love to invite you all to visit the new Avon Impulse site – there are already some awesome writers for you to discover.


Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Guest Blog


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29 responses to “Guest blog: Liz Selvig

  1. Jody Vitek

    August 26, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    First of all, great post Liz! Second, congratulations! I’m so happy for you. I haven’t gotten my Call yet. Usually, when I imagine something happening, it never goes the way I pictured it. But I don’t let that stop me from thinking about how I’d react to receiving The Call. I would definitely cry and then yell, jump, scream, all after I’m off the phone. Or for some, done reading the email.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      Hey Jods,
      I have NO doubt your Call will come and I hope you’ll call me while you’re still screeching! I’m learning more and more that nothing ever goes the way we plan it. It’s taking a while to let go of all my old dreams and embrace new ones, but the roller coaster ride is sure fun! Thanks for coming by to support me — love ya!

  2. Janis McCurry

    August 26, 2011 at 7:38 AM


    What a great story of development and clear thinking. Thanks so much for visiting Gem State Writers today. Dreams are what writers are made of and no matter how they evolve, they remain a goal.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 9:28 AM

      Hi Janis,
      Thanks so very much for inviting me to come and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. I have to laugh–not many people “accuse” me of clear thinking–but I definitely thought my way through this journey. It’s been a great trip, though. And you’re so right — if we gave up on dreams just because they change on us, we’d all be sadder people!

  3. Meredith Conner

    August 26, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    Ah – a fellow Dr. Doofenschmirtz fan! He’s my all time favorite villain. Thanks for sharing your story Liz. Excellent things to mull over – have to admit I’m a bit of a paper book snob myself even though I own a Kindle. Will look for your book in December – congratulations!!

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 9:35 AM

      Hi Meredith,
      Oh, I’m so happy to meet a fellow Doofenschmirtzer! Isn’t he awesome? A villain with reasonable dreams. Taking over the Tri-State area is so much more sensible than having visions of grandeur. Now if I could just get him to create a “Book Finisher-inator” 🙂 Glad I gave you something to think about — believe me, I’m still thinking about the same things. I’ll never give up the dream of seeing a book of mine on the front table at B&N, but I’m honestly learning that that is only one of many ways to sell a novel. I’ll be sure and let you all know the exact release date for mine! Thanks so very much for hosting me today!

  4. Alison Henderson

    August 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Hi Liz,
    I shouldn’t admit it, but I understand your reaction better than one might think. I struggled through a little bit of that myself when I sold my first book. In the intervening couple of years, I’ve watched the rise of e-books with amazement and finally acceptance that this is indeed a tidal wave in the publishing world. Riding along with it is not such a bad thing! Although, with two published books now, I’m STILL waiting for THE CALL. I have to settle for THE EMAIL.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      Hey Alison,
      I think it’s because of my fellow writers like you, who’ve shown me that e-pub is absolutely nothing to sneeze at, that I’m so thrilled with where I am. I’m so impressed with how you’ve handled your releases and I love your books (shameless plug: “Harvest of Dreams” and “A Man Like That”) — I’m in very, very good company. Thanks for the vote of solidarity–it’s so nice to be sharing the writing life with you!

  5. Carley Ash

    August 26, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Thanks Liz. I think things are changing for e-books, and this was a good reminder to keep our ideas of success open.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      Hi Carly!
      Thanks so much for coming by — thanks for the chance to share my story on your blog! I agree — I’m learning so much about the future of this business and it’s exhilarating as well as a little scary for a newbie like me. I have no idea what “success” will look like even in the near future–guess we’ll all find out together!! Thanks again.

  6. Amy Hahn

    August 26, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Oh Girl…you know how proud of you “us chapter-mates” are! But i hear you…until i started using my own Nook, i really didn’t get it. Now I’d actually RATHER read from the Nook, instead of real books…and remember…I’m the gal who shipped 60 pounds of books home from national? yep…tides are turning. HUGS!!

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Oh Amy,
      If I needed any more convincing, I think your wonderful comment just pushed me over the happy edge. I’ve barely started using my Nook and I’m totally hooked too. I’m having just as much fun stocking the virtual shelves as I do the real ones overflowing in my office. But your words are so exciting — I think there might just be a future in these here e-books 😀 And thanks for coming by and for the sweet words. It was a lucky day when you hopped on over to MFW!!

  7. Maxine Mansfield

    August 26, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    I know exactly how you feel, when The Wild Rosw Press said yes to Touched BY Magic, I don’t think my feet hit the floor for two days. but there was that tiny twinge that it wasn’t a big time NY print house.. but I don’t care, and I love my publisher, and can’t wait to see my book as a finished product. 🙂 As you well know, you are my very Favoriite contempory author, and I can’t wait to be able to brag and say I own a Lizbeth Selvig BOOK!

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      Maxine you fabulous thing, you! Thanks for your never-ending, uplifting cheerleading. But what the fickle-fingered, two-toed, pimply horns on a Barbarian’s tushie are you thinking? I’M just as big a fan of your Adult Fairy Tales and can’t wait to see them in my hot little hands. (For those of you reading this — that’s just some of the fun and funny language-along with an awesome love story- you’ll read in Maxine’s incredibly amazing book coming from The Wild Rose Press soon.) Aren’t you glad we didn’t stomp our feet and hold out for what we thought we wanted? This is so cool.. Thanks again!

  8. Mary Vine

    August 26, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    My first sell (with a small pub) was surreal, the second sell was after many revisions and I thought it was coming and used to the idea. The most exciting was the 3rd call because it was offered right off the bat. I think I screamed or nearly. Congrats on your deal with Avon!! Avon totally is big time. Perhaps what people didn’t tell you when you were thinking about the Avon deal was that you’ll write other books and here was a definite, good, foot in the door toward paper.Thanks!

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      Hi Mary!
      I love your Call stories — and I’m thrilled to know the excitement doesn’t dim. Congratulations on your own success! And thanks for letting me visit today and for the reaffirmation and reminder that I’m in a very lucky, happy place. Good to meet you here!

  9. Liz Fredericks

    August 26, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    Congratulations, Liz! Savor your accomplishment and I’ll definitely be checking the Avon site for your work.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      Thanks so much, Liz! (It’s always wonderful to meet another Liz!) I hope to find out very soon the actual release date and I’ll share it. It’s exciting to think people will be watching for it.

  10. Tam Linsey

    August 26, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Thank you for grounding us, Liz. This makes me want to rush out and by an ereader (actually, I’ve wanted one for a while, but I keep waiting for the format to standardize.) Guess I’ll just have to pick one and go with it 🙂
    I’m super excited for your book release!

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      Tam! Hi my wonderful friend! Believe me, you were one who heard me grouse about e-readers and vow never to abandon my beloved paper books! Well, I won’t abandoned them, I love them! But I certainly have fallen in love with my new toy. I have the actual Nook and I have a Kindle app for my phone. They’re both cool. So, if I can be convinced, anyone can! And, I’m looking forward to your book being sold — it’s an amazing read! Everyone should watch for your name! Thanks for stopping by — it means a lot.

      • Liz Selvig

        August 26, 2011 at 2:48 PM

        PS-Holy exclamation marks. 😀

  11. Peggy Staggs

    August 26, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    It’s amazing how we perceive things. Publishing is changing so much right now it’s hard to know what’s a step up and what isn’t. Thanks for your blog.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 11:05 PM

      Sorry to be slow in thanking you, Peggy. It’s State Fair time in Minnesota and I was out watching my daughter ride in the fair’s horse show! I think what’s changed my mind about my book sale is exactly what you said — we don’t know what’s coming for sure, but it seems to be pretty clear. I’m very excited to be riding the new wave — it can’t be anything but positive!

  12. Clarissa Southwick

    August 26, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    What an insightful and honest blog. As the lucky one who got to sit next to you when you won your Golden Heart, I was thrilled to hear about your sale. I can’t wait to read your debut novel. Thanks so much for guest blogging for us today.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 11:08 PM

      Hi Clarissa,
      I remember how much fun it was sitting with YOU at the ceremonies in Orlando — what an awesome group we had! I think I’ll remember that night my whole life. I hope my “honesty” (which is really more a product of me being the kind of person who wears her heart on her sleeve no matter what) will help change peoples’ minds about the future of book authoring. I’m a slow learner, but even I can be taught!!! Thank you so much for inviting me here today–I really appreciate it, and I’ve had fun.

  13. Laramie Sasseville

    August 26, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Great post, Liz! I’ve been rooting for you all the way, and while I grew up with print books as my one idea of ‘real books,’ I’m also a technophile and have a lot of faith in the future of ebooks, and certainly have faith in the quality of yours.

    • Liz Selvig

      August 26, 2011 at 11:11 PM

      Ah my awesome CP! You are one of the reasons I’ve come so far in my attitude. I love yours and learn from it all the time. Thanks for your faith and your help! You’re going to be in this publishing “mess” very soon too — can’t wait. Thanks for coming by and supporting me.

  14. Marsha R. West

    August 27, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Congrats, on selling, Liz. Awesome accomplishment. Think of all those out there who’ve written but never sold. Jeez, think of all those who’ve never even written. I’m not published, still hoping to experience that call or hey email is okay, too. As an older reader/writer, I dragged my feet on the e-readers. I mean, that’s not what a book is! But I had chapter mates selling their books in e-format and I wanted to be supportive of their efforts. Both my CPs had e-readers. I followed the discussions on various loops about the pros and cons of each and decided everyone likes the one they have. Period. One of the CPs had been given a Nook for her birthday, so that’s what I got. Being a little technologically challenged, as all in my chapter will attest, I was worried, but I can puchase and down load the books. So probably anyone can learn the steps. (Now if I could figure how to get my picture with all of my blog posts. LOL )My book cases are happy about this turn of events–though I will always buy a “real” book–there is now hope of not having to add on a separate room just to house all of those. 🙂 The other thing I love about e-readers is not having to strain to read the tiny print of those “real” books. Great post and I love y’all’s blog.

  15. Liz Selvig

    August 27, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Marsha, hi! I hope you get to see this response. I’ve been gone all day and just read your comment for the first time. Thank you so much for visiting and taking time to read the blog. I think your observation that everyone likes her own e-reader best is spot on. That’s true for all my friends too. I’m glad you’re liking your Nook. That’s what I have and I do like it a lot, even though it’s dangerous having immediate access to so many books. I may hear about it when the AmEx bill comes! I, too, will continue to buy paper books — they’re treasures. But it’s been fun to learn! I wish you so, so much luck in your journey toward publication. I know you’ll get there! Thanks again.


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