Please welcome Margo Kelly! Her debut release WHO R U REALLY? was just published a week ago - on September 18 - by Merit Press. Congrats and Happy Book Birthday!!
In addition to a really cool ripped-from-the-headlines novel, she has a great personal story of perseverance. I can't wait to read this one!
My Path to Publication, by Margo Kelly
January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten
dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet
Evanovich's HOW I WRITE and Writer's Digest's GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I
began my research into the industry.
months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending
out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew
rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over
the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was
back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.
also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of
writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my
skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two
great critique partners that I met through online communities.
year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION
OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and
fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I
paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story
and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, "The main
character is too naive" another said, "The main character sounds too
adult." I revised none-the-less.
a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first
writer's conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an
absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript,
and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract.
Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to
hear from the agents.
than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the
conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood,
I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense).
But I was demoralized. I couldn't seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out
MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and
improving it until I found my writing mojo again.
months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to
shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the
summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the
delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn't
excite her enough to offer me representation.
tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this
publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of
my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was
nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and
my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend
it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and
as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.
On November 11, 2011,
I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education
of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day
(it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a
phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions,
and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she'd
offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on
fire! I sent her the revised manuscript
about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I'm
telling you: I was ON FIRE!!).
She read it right away and requested
more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process,
and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the "vision" of
my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and
mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her
on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I
contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told
me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.
December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling
ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.
there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the
manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main
character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young
adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw
the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more
revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, will finally be published on September
I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The
publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future
is so exciting.
* * *
is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing
her love of writing. Who R U Really?
is her first novel. Margo
welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book
Follow her online:
26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho
About the Book:
Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to
play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose
smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting
her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be
together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless
to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared
most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life
spins out of control.
has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in
something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” --
School Library Journal