Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting the Call: T.W. Fendley

More proof that there are plenty of ways to achieve success for writers. T.W. Findley has agreed to share her journey through the publishing world. Here’s  a case where meeting the right people at a writer’s conference can make your dreams come true.  Teresa’s  novel, Zero Time, is at the top of my to be read list.

This month is a perfect time for me to talk about getting "The Call" because in April 2010, I met Linda Houle, one of the publishers from L&L Dreamspell, at the Missouri Writers Guild (MWG) conference. That's where things started going right for me.

It was my first pitch session and I was plenty nervous. But instead of doing a five-minute pitch to just one agent, when I arrived that morning I learned I could pitch to all three of my top choices--two agents and a small press publisher. Fortunately, I'd done my homework. I knew why my book was a good fit for each of them and had practiced (and practiced!) my elevator pitch in front of the bathroom mirror. 

I was hopeful, but afraid to be too optimistic. I'd been there before. You see, I sent off my first query letter for ZERO TIME on Sept. 12, 2008, and immediately got a request for a partial. Elated, I submitted my chapters, now certain I would easily land an agent and a book deal. That didn't happen. I revised my query letter a few times over the next eighteen months and used QueryTracker to target and submit it to thirteen more agents. And to track the rejections.

Then came the MWG conference, and a chance to deliver my query in person. All requested a partial, ending the long dry spell. Then something unprecedented happened--within a month, one agent and the small press asked for a full manuscript!   

"The Call" came 26 days after I emailed the full manuscript to the small press. On May 31, 2010, Lisa Smith--the other "L" in L&L Dreamspell--sent me an email that said simply: "Teresa,  I am interested in offering you a contract for ZERO TIME. I'd like to see your marketing plan, and we will go from there! Thanks."

My first reaction? After I quit shrieking, I emailed my critique buddies. They'd been with me through two revisions of the book. Together we did a virtual happy dance. Later, my husband and I toasted margaritas at our local Mexican restaurant.

I went to work drafting a marketing plan after I read my publisher's book, The Naked Truth About Book Publishing, and checked out some online resources. On June 2, Lisa accepted my plan and offered a contract for both print and ebook formats.

In the meantime, I also emailed the agent who requested the full to let her know of the small press offer. Although she loved the premise, she decided to pass. I reviewed the contract and on June 7, 2010, mailed the signed copies. My debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was published in October 2011-- three years after I sent my first query letter. With its connection to the end of the Maya Long Count calendar, I wanted the book out before December 2012. I'm grateful to L&L Dreamspell for making it happen.

After that experience, I've been reluctant to get back into the query game. For my next novel, I'm going to pitch first. That's why I was at the 2012 MWG conference last weekend, pitching my young adult contemporary fantasy, THE LABYRINTH OF TIME. And I got a request from a super agent for the full manuscript!  

If you're interested in ZERO TIME, it's available in paperback or ebook through Amazon and Barnes & Noble (or ask your local librarian to carry it). I'm excited to report it earned a Walter Williams Major Work Award in the 2012 President's Contest at the MWG conference! 

You can find me at: 
Authors website:


  1. That is awesome Teresa! I'm really enjoying reading these success stories. It's good to know that hard work pays off and I wish you the best of luck in your career. I'm going to be checking out your book. Maya Calendar? I'm so there! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thanks so much, Ree! I appreciate the chance to tell my story. When you're starting out, most of us think book deals "just happen" because our book is so different or exciting--and it is--but usually it takes a lot of work, too. I wish you great success in your writing. and I hope you enjoy the journey to Zero Time.



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