If you read my blog post on How I Got My Agent, you know that journey was a long one, but it led me to signing with Kim Lionetti from BookEnds Literary, so it was worth every soul-sucking second.
My journey to finding a publisher was the complete opposite experience (if you are an author looking for an agent, particularly a YA author, Kim Lionetti NEEDS to be on the top of your query list). I signed my contract with Kim on September 13, 2015, and after some light revisions, we went on submission on September 28th. Within two days, everyone that Kim pitched to had requested the book.
I happy danced my way through Halloween and Thanksgiving, knowing that some of the biggest publishers in the country were reading my book. Given my experience finding an agent, and the holiday season, I didn’t expect to hear much until the new year. So I finished another book I’d been working on and starting revising the one I’d written before that. Then, a week before Christmas, Kim let me know that we’d gotten what I’ll call a nibble, a very promising nibble. More dancing from me all through Christmas and New Year’s, but again, I was still expecting things to move slowly.
On January 19th, while I was at Walmart, Kim called.
Whenever your agent calls, it’s exciting, but I was expecting maybe a submission update or possibly some feedback that needed to be shared over the phone. And yes, a teeny tiny part of me thought maybe it’s more, maybe it’s THE CALL…
I will never forget the moment Kim said that HarlequinTEEN wanted to publish my book. I screamed so loud that I most likely did permanent damage my agent’s hearing. I spun donuts in the aisle and told completely bewildered strangers that I just sold my book (shout out to the kind older gentleman who smiled and said “isn’t that splendid?”)!
I started working on IF I FIX YOU before I knew anything about publishing or had any real idea of how to get an agent, much less a book deal. I had zero connections with anyone in the YA industry and no clue about how to make them. What I did have were characters and a story I was compelled to tell. I also had a resiliency and determination that would not let me give up. So I wrote the best book I could (and rewrote it, and rewrote it, and rewrote it…) until it caught the attention of a BOSS agent who in turn got my book into the hands of a LEGENDARY editor at a DREAM publisher.
Signing my contract with HarlequinTEEN!
It’s not a far off dream anymore. I wrote a book that is going to be published. I signed contracts. It will be in bookstores. My name is going to be on the cover. People I have never met are going to read it.
After my car accident, I didn’t think about the future for a long time. I didn’t want to. At the age of seventeen, my life derailed in ways I never could have imagined. I stopped worrying about which college to go to, instead I worried about whether or not I’d be able to breathe again without a machine or communicate without blinking at an alphabet board. One. Word. At. A. Time.
That’s a much bigger story. I hope to write it one day.
I’m writing this post today because I do think about the future now, and it’s amazing. My spinal cord injury means I’ll always be in a wheelchair (but it let’s me do awesome things like spin donuts in the aisle of Walmart when the occasion demands it). But the alphabet board is gone and my lungs rallied like a champ, allowing me to ditch the machines for good. Do I wish my hands worked better? Yes, but the fact that I can type with them, drive with them, and even create a respectable cat eye with them (a fete even with able-bodied hands) isn’t something I’ll ever take for granted.
I more than survived breaking my neck, which isn’t usually the case. I finished high school and went to college. I discovered that I wanted to be an author, regardless of whether I was sitting or standing, and nothing else. And that’s my future. It’s happening right now.
Well, technically, HarlequinTEEN is publishing IF I FIX YOU on October 25, 2016, but who’s counting?
…And here is the official description!
Readers of Sarah Dessen, Cammie McGovern and Morgan Matson will adore this thought-provoking, complex and romantic contemporary novel from debut author Abigail Johnson, about finding the strength to put yourself back together when everything you know has fallen apart.
When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out-with a sticky note as a goodbye-only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.
Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things-cars, relationships, romances, people-is all broken up. It used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even talk.
With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars-on the inside and out-that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. But over one long, hot Arizona summer, she realizes she can’t fix anyone’s life until she fixes her own. And she knows just where to start…