Friday, January 17, 2014

Darkly Delicious Details About How Kendall Kulper Sold Her Book

When I was getting SALT & STORM ready for submission in March of 2013, I felt surprisingly zen-like through the whole process. Maybe it was that it took me two years to get an agent and I had low expectations, maybe it was that I personally didn’t have to email editors—whatever the reason, when SALT & STORM went out, I wasn’t nervous or excited or anything. Cautiously detached would probably describe it best. I trusted Sara, my agent, to reach out to editors, I knew getting an editor was typically even longer and more trying than getting an agent, and so I forgot about SALT & STORM, kept my head down, and kept working.

Everything was going well for the first couple of days—a few editors were interested, a few passed, a few hadn’t responded. I twiddled my fingers.

For spring break, the husband and I traveled around Arizona as a research trip for the Western I was working on. The night we landed I got an email from Sara. She’d met an editor who had mentioned she was a fan of Westerns and thought she might be a good fit for SALT & STORM. Would I mind putting together a little blurb describing the Western’s plot also, to see what she thought?

Hmm. Yes. The Western. The Western that had characters and rough ideas and a logline, but no actual plot yet…

Undaunted, I emailed back that yes, I could definitely write something, and then I spent a few hours wracking my brain. With the husband giving thumbs up or down, I wrote a query-style summary of the Western, sent it out, and crossed my fingers.

Radio silence! Again.

A few days later, Sara emailed me to tell me to hang tight, there might be news coming… I cautiously high-fived the husband.

And then, the email every writer wants to see from their agent: “Are you free to talk on the phone?” Yes. Always yes.

Sara told me the news, that Little, Brown was interested and that the editor there wanted to talk to me. I made the mistake of standing up during that phone call and had to literally grip the edge of the table to keep from falling. I should also note that during this time, I was pretty strung out on Nyquil, fighting a cold, and the minute I hung up the phone I thought “Oh please don’t let that have been a fever dream.”

We set up a call with the editor, during which the time was repeated to me, several times, but because I was fever-ridden and dumb, I completely messed up the “different time zones” thing and assumed the call was not one but two hours later than it really was and then because I am even dumber, I had my ringer turned off. Yes, brilliant. No bigs, just one of the most important phone calls of my life…

Luckily, I managed to figure out time and call the editor right back, apologizing profusely for the terrible combination of nerves, math, and Nyquil. And she was wonderful! Within the first five minutes, we were sharing stories about the neighborhood where we both lived and gushing about books we loved. She was like a brilliant, funny friend who is also incredibly smart and editorially gifted. I loved her attitude towards editing and her enthusiasm for SALT & STORM, and I hung up the phone practically buzzing.

And! Then! More! Waiting!

The next few days were a blur, checking my email while Sara did her wonder-agent thing. ASIDE PLUG FOR AGENTS: I feel incredibly lucky to have had Sara on my side. I watch enough Shark Tank to know I am terrible when it comes to pitching and selling something, especially when that something is myself. But while I was teetering on the edge of a panic attack, Sara was amazing: calm, professional, explaining the situation and assuring me that things would go well. She was like the horse whisperer for frantic debut authors.

In the end, we had a few different options but Little, Brown always stood out. I mean, it’s the publisher of Little Women! Catcher in the Rye! David Sedaris! They have an amazing catalogue and a fantastic roster of YA books (I Hunt Killers, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Diviners, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown, etc etc etc). A lot of my favorite books are LB books, and I knew they were beautifully edited and packaged, from covers to promotion. From my conversation with the editor (the always-amazing Bethany Strout), I knew my book would be in fabulous hands from the first draft to the final copy. I knew SALT & STORM had the best possible home, and so I was thrilled to say YES.

For more information on Kendall and her books, click here.


  1. What a great story. The waiting is always so hard, but when it ends the way your story does it is well worth it. Thanks for sharing. =)

  2. Agreed--a great story, with a great ending!

  3. Aww, Kendall, this is such a great story! I absolutely love the circumstances that brought you where you are now - Nyquil and fever included. That is so awesome! I'm happy how things worked out for you. And Little, Brown is a fabulous publishing company! I wish you much success with your upcoming debut! Which, as a blogger/reviewer/reader, I cannot WAIT to read :D

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  4. Thanks guys! And Alyssa, I can't wait for you to read it! :)

  5. What an amazingly fantastic story! Also, I love that it has such a happy ending :-) I can't wait to read Salt & Storm.

  6. Congratulations! Every writer's dream. Thanks for including the part about missing the call. It's good to know one can still recover (even while on Nyquil). ;)