I’m so excited to have Jason Nelson here to day during the release week of his novel, FREE AGENT. I couldn’t be more proud to say I’ve watched his journey from Pitch Wars mentee to published author. Scroll down to read about his Pitch Wars experience and how he got his agent and book deal. And don’t forget to check out his amazing novel and grab a copy today!
When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…
Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.
Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.
Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…
From Blog to Book: A Pitchwars Experience
By Jason Nelson
Rewind time, if you have a tardis handy (and if you do, there’s going to be a Dalek invasion last Thursday unless someone prevents it), and go back two years. This would be the era of the first Pitchwars. And there you would find me, wondering if I could enter it.
I had a manuscript, a book I called “Free Agent.” I had a pitch which I felt was clever and which gathered a number of requests. What I didn’t have was any idea of how much work was still to come, or how important the connections I’d make would be.
It’s important to note that when I applied to pitchwars, I wasn’t selected to work with a mentor, but Tina Moss selected me as one of her alternates. Tina is a ninja in both the figurative and near literal sense. She’s a great writer and she could kill me with a piece of spaghetti. She helped me hone my pitch (which in hindsight wasn’t exactly the best) and gave me tips for interacting.
And right here, I want you to notice something: Those interactions are extremely important. I joined twitter. I learned those newfangled hash-tags, which had nothing to do with illegal drugs or fried potatoes. And I began talking with people.
I began making friends. Making contacts. Networking.
I’m two years down the line and I swear if I had it to do over again, I’d have started this phase earlier. You need writer friends. You need them for so many reasons it’s not even funny.
• You need them to say “This is crap” when it’s crap.
• You need them to say “Keep at it” when they’ve just told you crap is crap.
• You need them to give you virtual hugs or very real vodka when you are on your fiftieth rejection for the story you absolutely love.
It’s never too early to cheer other authors on. To comment on their blog posts, link to their cover reveals, or retweet their good news. Never too early to like their facebook pages, interact with them on social media, and generally speaking, join the community.
Because you’ll need them later too. Those friends you helped when you had three views a week on your blog? They’ll help you when you get to do your great cover reveal. They’ll cheer your agent announcement, your book deal, or your self-published success. Whatever’s the right path for you, there’s someone on it too.
And please remember this is not a zero sum game. I’ve never lost a book deal for being happy someone else got one.
Now, back to the story.
Of all the requests I got during Pitchwars, one of them was from Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, agent extraordinaire. I can finally confess something that deeply embarrassed me. I had no idea which of those names was her last name. After addressing my submission as Dear Ms. Van, Ms. Vlieg, and Ms. Hylckama, I finally started my submission with the following line:
“In keeping with your pitchwars submission request…”
Don’t be like me.
Get your agent’s name right! (For the record, Ms. van Hylckama Vlieg would have been right, pronounced “van Hill-comma vleeg”). A week later we had a call where I think I asked every question imaginable. She told me she loved Free Agent. I pretty much mumbled something like “thanks”, because I had no idea what to say. Do you say “I know, it’s great?” Do you say “Nah, it’s not really all that good?” I hope I said thank you, but I really can’t remember.
The key thing is, I knew from that call we’d work well together. We both laugh at things that would get us thrown out of respectable establishments. We’re both on the short train to hell. And Pam brought a sharp knowledge of the business side of things to the table, something I (still to this day) lack. A week later I accepted Pam’s offer of representation. Three months later, I had a three book deal to bring the Grimm Agency series to life with Ace books.
It seemed like forever at the time. Late summer of 2014? That would never come. Guess what? It did. Tuesday, July 29th of 2014, my first book, “Free Agent,” released. This was the culmination of a dream I’d had for years. Heck, for most of my life. My book, shaped like a book, on shelves for other people to read and hopefully love.
This year, I’m participating in pitchwars again, but this time it’s as a mentor. I love the editing process. I love taking a good story through the pain it takes to become great. I love the hard feedback that helps me grow. This year, I’m looking forward to being able to work with someone else to do this. My critique partners and those I’ve done beta reads for can testify: I am not always pleasant, but I am always dedicated to helping you tell the best story possible.
Finally, I want to point something out: You will grow, even if you don’t get selected. Your manuscript will become sharper if you take the lessons from preparing those first pages and apply them to the whole story. Most importantly, you’ll meet friends and allies and contacts to cheer you through the highs and lows, and get the chance to do the same.
I’m looking forward to it. See you at contest time, #pitchwarriors.
A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.