February 2nd, 2009 by Alison Kent
My First Sale x 2

I actually have two first sale stories, one being the true first, and the second being the “first sale” everyone remembers. As with many aspiring authors who are members of RWA, I entered a lot of writing contests after joining. One of those was the 1992 North Texas RWA Great Expectations Contest. The final round judge in my category was Catherine Carpenter of Meteor Publishing. She picked my entry as the winner, and asked to see the full manuscript. I sent it, and she called to buy it six days later. It was #167 (released in August 1993 as PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS) out of the one-hundred sixty-eight books in the Kismet imprint. (Trivia: Suzanne Brockmann’s was #168 – the last.) Catherine took leave during the editing process, and handed over the manuscript to Kate Duffy – who has edited me during my time at Brava.

The second “first sale” – the fun story – came in July of 1995. There had been some buzz online (which at that time consisted of GEnie and CompuServe) about a television producer calling around, making inquiries into the industry. One day at work, my phone rang and I picked it up to find Don Dahler (who last I knew was on ABC’s GMA) on the line telling me that CBS 48 Hours was doing a show on romance novels and would like to talk to an aspiring author. Me. I explained about the above sale, but he said that was fine. I was still aspiring, yes? Well, yes. I was, and I agreed to his request for an initial interview. He came to the office to talk to me, called me a day or so later and said he wanted to bring a camera crew and reporter (Susan Spencer, still seen on CBS 48 Hours) to follow me around for, yeah, forty-eight hours. They wanted to visit to my critique group, my home, my office, etc. PANIC!

At the time, I was raising three teens on my own, working full-time, homeschooling one, and writing. The homeschooled one did most of the housework, but still. Ugh. No way was I letting the entire country into my house. I told Don he couldn’t come for a week. Then I attacked my house, including buying a new sofa, hanging crap on the bedroom walls, and cleaning out the bottom of my toaster – which remains a joke to this day between me and one of my BFF’s. The first “hour” of the 48, the crew met me at my office, and followed me and one of my critique partners to our meeting where we met our third, Jan Freed (who I paid tribute to on my blog). (Our group had previously included Jo Leigh and Kimberly Raye.)

The next day, the crew arrived at my house around seven a.m. to follow me to work. They wired me and my car (because at the time I dictated a lot of my pages) for the trip. During my lunch hour, I did an interview with Susan, and the whole bunch then came to my house that night after work. Susan read some of my work from my monitor (from the book that later sold to Kensington Bouquet and was released as LOVE IN BLOOM), and then my phone rang. On the other end of the line was Birgit Davis-Todd, editor for Harlequin Temptation, offering to buy my manuscript CALL ME. Being the sharp cookie that I am, heh, I asked her to please hold on a moment, and I turned to Don and Susan and said, “Y’all set this up, didn’t you?”

CBS had a crew in Toronto at the same time, and filmed Birgit’s end of the call, too. The show aired in October 1995, and CALL ME was released in July 1996. I have a (badly jpg’d) clip of my portion of the show on YouTube if anyone wants a good laugh. (It’s also embedded below.) BTW, Birgit and I both now have better glasses – and better hair. *g*

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34 comments to “My First Sale x 2”

  1. Sasha White
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 7:10 am · Link

    I love it!! That video must bring back some memories huh? As well as make you feel proud for how much you’ve done since then.

    PS:I remember CALL ME. It was one of the first romance books I ever read. 😀

  2. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 8:24 am · Link

    It makes me feel old, LOL!

  3. Emma Petersen
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 8:45 am · Link

    How awesome is it to have a part of your career on film? I love first sale stories and to be able to watch one was pretty cool. 😀

  4. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 9:19 am · Link

    What’s so funny is that I was only slightly nervous during the filming. I can see myself taking a calming breath at one point. But the night that showed aired in October ’95? I was a wreck! LOL!

  5. Amy Ruttan
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 9:39 am · Link

    That is so very cool Alison! :)

  6. ArkansasCyndi
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 9:40 am · Link

    I saw this! I ever put it together that this was you!

    Brave lady. I don’t think I could have done that!

  7. nightsmusic
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:01 am · Link

    I LOVED it!!! And I must be in some kind of mood because I found myself teary eyed at the end… *shakes head* what’s wrong with me?

    I have to ask though, are you always that calm? Or did you wait until the camera was turned off before jumping up and down and squeeing? 😉

  8. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:16 am · Link

    Always that calm, yes. I’ve never squeed (squee’ed?) over a sale or phone call from anyone in publishing. I am weird like that!

  9. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:17 am · Link

    I honestly had no idea it was a set up at the time, though I snapped pretty quickly once the phone call came. I never thought about being brave, LOL!

  10. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:18 am · Link

    Thanks, Amy. All these years later (almost 14!), I cringe, watching it, heh.

  11. nightsmusic
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:59 am · Link

    Yes, I suppose it would be squee’ed. Then again, who knows? 😉

    And if it’s any consolation, I had glasses similar to those, only the lenses were even bigger if you can imagine! You are not alone 😛

  12. Darlene Ryan
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 12:32 pm · Link

    I remember that interview. You have no idea how much inspiration I got from you. So thank you–14 years late. And by the way, your hair doesn’t look bad. Back then I had a mushroom cut. THAT was bad.

  13. Carrie Vaughn
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 12:57 pm · Link

    Oh, that was sweet. And actually a pretty good look at what it’s like working as a writer.

  14. Lori Borrill
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 1:02 pm · Link

    I think that’s the best first sale story I’ve ever read.

  15. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 1:46 pm · Link

    It’s just such mall hair on top there, LOL! The rest is okay, but the top makes me giggle. Glad to be of inspiration!

  16. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 1:47 pm · Link

    You mean having no life? 😉

  17. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 1:47 pm · Link

    Glad you enjoyed it. But, ugh, it was SO long ago. I am old.

  18. Fedora
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 2:06 pm · Link

    That’s awesome, Alison! Thanks for sharing :)

  19. Maria
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 5:25 pm · Link

    What a terrific story! You are an inspiration, woman! You made all of us proud that day.

    Good on you.

  20. Dee Carney
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 6:19 pm · Link

    That was awesome!! It gives me just the teeniest bit of hope for my writing…One day! One day!!

  21. Victoria W
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 8:37 pm · Link

    Wow that’s crazy. Most first sale stories I’ve had to read. It was pretty awesome to watch one. Is it surreal to see it now? And I would be freaking out if I got a sale call. Like those crazy chicks on reality shows! 😀

  22. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:36 pm · Link

    It’s weird to see it. I cringe, thinking I sound so stupid, LOL! That phone call I made was to one of my co-workers. I had first tried to call one of my crit partners but got her answering machine.

  23. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:36 pm · Link

    Hang in there! And then once you sell, hang in there, LOL!

  24. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:37 pm · Link

    Ah, thank you!

  25. Alison Kent
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:37 pm · Link

    You’re very welcome! The husband transferred it from our VHS copy (yes, this was before DVDs) and it’s really bad quality, but we just wanted it where we could access it.

  26. Lynn
     · February 2nd, 2009 at 11:18 pm · Link

    I have to agree with Lori — you have the best first sale story I’ve ever heard. I’ll get my kid to download the video onto the TV for me, so I can watch you like it’s 1995 all over again. :)

  27. Alison Kent
     · February 3rd, 2009 at 10:39 am · Link

    I would only do that if you don’t value your set. 😉

  28. JulieLeto
     · February 3rd, 2009 at 3:02 pm · Link

    Mica, I think I still have this episode on videotape somewhere! I remember watching it and I also remember the first time we met at the RWA conference in Orlando three years later. You were such a rock star to me! I’m so glad that we’re now friends!

  29. Alison Kent
     · February 3rd, 2009 at 6:46 pm · Link

    That was in . . . 1997, right? I brought the not-yet-husband to the conference that year. Wait, we got married in 1997 . . . yeah, I think that’s when it was. We got married in December of that year.

  30. Laurie K
     · February 4th, 2009 at 5:12 pm · Link

    I remember that episode…OMG. that’s great.

  31. Alison Kent
     · February 4th, 2009 at 6:02 pm · Link

    Glad you enjoyed the nostalgic moment, Laurie!

  32. JulieLeto
     · February 5th, 2009 at 5:41 pm · Link

    Yes, it was 1997 because I was preggers and had my daughter on the first of 1998. I think I even met Walt then, too!

  33. Alison Kent
     · February 5th, 2009 at 7:19 pm · Link

    You did. I distinctly remember talking to you with him outside of a workshop. You were HUGE, heh. 😉

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