Don't you love hearing about the success of others? Makes you believe you can still achieve your own dream. Sandra Elzie shares her own story. She is a member of Georgia Romance Writers and a lovely person.

That First Sale, or Doing The Snoopy Dance
By: Sandra Elzie

How many stories of first sales have you heard? Ten? Fifty? Even if you’re not the one telling that story, it’s interesting to hear how others reached their goals, even though there’s always a little bittersweet taste in your mouth that someone else “made” it and you’re still on the trail. All I can say is applaud the success of others because others will applaud for you when your day arrives. The great thing about publishing is that someone doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win. With perseverance you can both win.

My story started in 2001 when my husband threw down a gauntlet challenging me to give up half of the time I spent reading and watching television and spend that time writing that great novel that I had been telling everyone was rattling around in my head. He informed me that I didn’t have to be retired to write a book. At least he wasn’t mean when he told me to put up or shut up, but I suddenly realized that he was right…again. (Darn it!) He promised to support me in the quest of my dream and he has been faithful to his word.

Over the next seven years I wrote twelve manuscripts…although I must admit that some of the earlier ones will forever remain in my files and not on the shelves of bookstores in America. I can now laugh at all the mistakes I made in my first manuscript, but those mistakes were necessary. Each one was a step to bring me closer to the day “THE” call came.

In my case, I had received so many rejection letters that I decided to send in three of the four chapters I had written on my WIP and get the rejection letter process going. Eight days later I received a letter asking (for my first time) for a full manuscript. Actually, that would have also been a Snoopy Dance occasion, but I was at 14,000-words and had implied it was finished at 60,000. Yikes! For the next nine days my husband was a bachelor and on the morning of the ninth day, we drove to the post office and mailed it.

Two months later I got up, had my coffee and then Avalon Books changed my life with one little phone call. Believe me, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you. Ever heard that before? Believe it.

If you don’t give up and quit, one morning when you least expect it, the phone will ring and someone on the other end will praise your manuscript and tell you they want to publish it. That day will be etched in the granite of your memories for the rest of your life.

Here are a few tips that helped me and even if you’ve heard some or all of them before, it never hurts to be reminded.

* Set a goal and write it down
* Write or edit or outline…DO SOMETHING every day
* Participate in seminars, workshops, and training classes
* Be part of a team…it’s more fun. Get in a Critique group and learn as you help others and they help you.
* NEVER give up on your dream
* Occasionally put on your Pink Fuzzy Slippers and practice the Snoopy Dance so you’ll be ready when the phone rings and you make your first sale.

For unpublished writers, all I can say is hang in there and don’t give up. I know it’s a lot easier to say than to do, but take every bit of encouragement that your fellow writing partners give and keep writing and keep sending off chapters.

My first sale is The Diplomatic Tutor, coming in October 2009 from Avalon Books and I want to publicly thank my critique partner Debbie Kaufman and my faithful wonder-husband, Richard. As the saying goes, without them…

So, your writing assignment for today is to share with everyone about your journey toward your goal or maybe you’d be willing to share your first sale, your first mile marker, so-to-speak.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, time to share or ask questions!


  1. Debbie Kaufman // June 3, 2009 at 7:20 AM  

    Morning Sandy:
    Well, thanks for the kudos, but folks, Sandy is the most prolific, driven writer I know. I can't begin to keep up with her. Sandy, expecting to hear more about sales two, three, four...thirty-three, etc.!

  2. Sally Kilpatrick // June 3, 2009 at 8:22 AM  

    Thanks for the encouragement, Sandy. I think I've done almost all of those things--except practice the Snoopy dance. Maybe that's what I've been missing.

    Seriously, thanks for all of your help with my WIP. These are great reminders for us all.

  3. Edie Ramer // June 3, 2009 at 8:32 AM  

    I love to hear first sale stories! To me, it's not a jealous thing, but it's a "if it happens to her, it can happen to me, too" feeling.

    So congratulations! I'm still on my journey, but I guess my big milestone was hooking up with great CPs.

  4. Beth Trissel // June 3, 2009 at 8:45 AM  

    This is an inspiring post. :) Many will enjoy it and appreciate your encouragement. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  5. Judy // June 3, 2009 at 9:35 AM  

    Love the story...No matter where we are in our journeys, it's good for we writers to connect with other writers in a way that only we can really appreciate. Good luck with everything! I'm so happy for you!

  6. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 3, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

    Could not stand it any longer! Had to check in on the Fuzzies! Congrats Sandra!

    Scarlet--from the mediterranean sailing toward Mallorca. Will be home Saturday night!

  7. Sandy Elzie // June 3, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

    Debbie and Sally:

    Thanks for the kind words. Fortunately, I'm able to write like I talk, hense the prolific writing. (g)


    Like you, I love success stories. It means that yet another person got up one more time than he/she was knocked down. Or in our business, sent out one more query than we got rejection letters.

    Beth & Judy,
    I agree that we can...and an inspiration to each other. We should encourage each other and stretch out an offer of help (even if it's just listening) whenever possible. An encouraging word doesn't cost a cent but just might be worth it's weight in gold to someone about to toss in the towel. "NEVER GIVE UP" (Winston Churchill to the Brits during WWII)

    Ooooow, I am soooo jealous. I love to travel, especially on a cruise ship, so you're reminding me that it's been a little while and I need to start planning the next one!

    Thanks to everyone who has dropped by so far. I'll be checking back during the afternoon.


  8. Nightingale // June 3, 2009 at 1:17 PM  

    The call! The two words that strike happiness in a writer's heart. Congrats on your upcoming release and may you sell millions!

  9. Sandy Elzie // June 3, 2009 at 2:32 PM  


    From your keyboard to God's ears! (g)

    Thanks for the kind words.

  10. Ana Arag√≥n // June 3, 2009 at 4:34 PM  


    Even though I've heard the story, it still gives me chills! I remember your first GRW meeting and thought, "This is someone I could be friends with...!"

    Congratulations! I remember my call like it was yesterday...and trust me, that feeling is the same if it's your first book or your third...


  11. Sandy Elzie // June 3, 2009 at 7:03 PM  


    Thank you for the kind words! I believe you when you say it's a thrill regardless of whether it's the first book or the third, but I'm really looking forward to experiencing that first hand.

    Congratulations on your own success and when you get to number ten, let me know if the newness of the whole thing has worn off. (g)


  12. Mary Marvella // June 3, 2009 at 7:05 PM  

    Told you they'd love your story!

  13. Mona Risk // June 3, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

    Congratulations Sandy. Yes dreams eventually come true. Thanks for sharing you perseverance and success story.

  14. Mary Ricksen // June 3, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

    We all get there by a different route, but our obstacles are still the same.
    I think the best way to publish is to network. You just never know!
    I hope you sell tons and your career takes you exactly where you wanted to be.
    Great post!

  15. Sandy Elzie // June 3, 2009 at 9:18 PM  

    Hi Mary M. Thanks for inviting me to blog with PFSW's today. It has been fun.

    Mona, thank you for dropping by. If sharing my story encourages even one person to continue on the journey and to have faith that they too can suceed, then I'm happy.

    Mary R. I agree that it's important to network. If you get your name out there and people start to recognize it and then you publish, you're already several steps ahead in the game. Besides, those who you're networking with will encourage you along the journey and that's always a good thing.

    Thanks you all for commenting today and I hope someday soon to read your stories about "The Call". When your day comes, I'll be one of many standing on the sidelines applauding and doing the Happy Snoopy Dance.

    Sandy Elzie

  16. Joanne // June 5, 2009 at 12:55 PM  

    I'm chiming in late to offer my sincere congratulations! Such an inspiring post for those of us yet unpubbed.

  17. Dayana // June 6, 2009 at 6:38 PM  

    Wonderful story, Sandra. I remember many, many rejections and all but one were form letters. The one letter that wasn't true to form, LOL, was a couple of hand penned remarks on a form letter!

    I actually shelved my manuscript for a year before I pursued publishing again.

    For me, Snoopy dances are the norm:) Each new accomplishment I gain I dance. This week it's running #1 on the best selling lists for TWRP with my latest release. Hey, any small step is a great leap toward your dreams and goals.

    And I agree, anyone out there that is striving and working at breaking through to publication, DO NOT GIVE UP. I don't know about anyone else but nothing has ever been handed to me. It took hard work and persistence. If you keep it up it will come.