The Heartless Timeline: Steps to Selling a New Project

Posted on: 30th Sep 2013  /   Categorized: Heartless

IT’S OFFICIAL!! The Heartless sale was announced in PW today. Here it is:


Feiwel Re-ups Meyer

For Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends imprint, Jean Feiwel and Liz Szabla took world English rights to two new YA novels by bestseller Marissa Meyer (the Lunar Chronicles series) from agent Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary. The first book in the deal, Heartless, set for fall 2015, will be a prequel to Alice in Wonderland and, per the publisher, will deliver the “untold story” of the Queen of Hearts. The second book is set for fall 2016.




In the interest of sharing the behind-the-scenes life of a writer (which I guess is kind of the mission statement for this blog?), I thought I’d break down the process for selling my first non-Lunar Chronicles title.



1. July 2012: Pitching ideas to my agent.

When I realized that I was far enough ahead on my deadlines for Cress and Winter and that I wanted to use NaNoWriMo to draft something brand new, the first thing I did was talk to my agent about some ideas I was excited about. I pitched her three ideas that I’d been toying with, and we both agreed that Heartless was the one to focus on (largely because it was the one I was most excited for). I drafted up a quick “query” for her to take to my publisher.


2. July 2012 cont.: Agent and editor discuss.

With a two-paragraph summary in hand, my agent pitched the idea to my editor and publisher. Hallelujah – they loved it! Although they wanted to wait to negotiate a contract until we had a full year of sales information on Cinder, I was given the green light to start working on Heartless with confidence that it would be picked up for publication.


3. November 2012: I wrote the first draft.

NaNoWriMo, woot! End word count: 67,259.


4. January 2013: On submission.

Come January, it was time for my agent to approach my publisher again and start the negotiating process. In preparation, I cleaned up the first 50 pages of the draft I’d written during NaNo, making it as squeaky-clean as I could, and also wrote a six-page synopsis. Then my agent worked her magic, and . . .


5. February 2013: Sold!

My publisher made an offer for Heartless and one to-be-determined title, and we accepted with cheers and champagne toasting! I love Feiwel & Friends and everyone at Macmillan Children’s, so I’m beyond thrilled that I get to keep working with them.


6. June 2013: Signing the contract.

A whole five months later the contract arrived. (I don’t know why they take so long, but this is not uncommon.)


7. September 2013: FINALLY – the deal is announced!

My publisher wanted to be strategic with the announcement, tying it in with the Fierce Reads tour and the building publicity for Cress, not to mention this new Once Upon a Time in Wonderland show that’ll be starting up soon. Smart cookies, those publishing folks!



So that’s how it all went down. Now to have a mad tea party to celebrate!


  1. Shay commented on:

    thanks for posting this, it’s really cool to see all the steps that go into setting up a book deal!

  2. Melody commented on:

    That is awesome that you shared this with us. Now all we must do is wait and build up the excitement with everyone. So exited for all your future novels.

  3. Chloe Buck commented on:

    Wow, I didn’t know it took so long to make a book. I thought a writer just got an idea and then put it in writing, I really appreciate you going through all that trouble so we can get a bigger and better picture of what happens if we take some stories that we already have and mold them to our future generations.

  4. Christine Monson commented on:

    Congratulations, Marissa! Yay! I can’t wait to read it. =D

  5. Celine commented on:

    This is so exciting!!! I’m a huge fan of the Lunar Chronichles and cannot wait to read Heartless!!!

  6. Vyki @ On The Shelf commented on:

    Congratulations on the new book deal! This is very exciting and I can’t wait for them to come out. It is also really cool to get an inside look at the steps of the book deal. I still find it amazing how much you write during NaNo.

  7. Adele commented on:

    OMG! I can’t wait to read this! It sounds even better than the AWESOME Lunar Chronicles. This is going to be sooooo good. I don’t think I can wait till it comes out. It sounds that good! Have you guys watched that alice in wonderland twist movie with jonny dept as the mad hatter! I love that movie! This has inspired me to write my own alice in wonderland twist. Any idea’s anyone? Please comment/reply with idea’s! Thanks. By the way, Celine, I so agree with you!

  8. Emma commented on:

    Hey, adele, why not make it like alice in wonderland has a sister in wonderland and that Alice is a teenager, and maybe the white queen is alice’s mother or something?? I don’t know if this would help but that’s the best I can do! When your finished why don’t you post it on, for us to read?

  9. Adele commented on:

    Thanks Emma! That’s great idea’s! You helped a lot. Anymore idea’s please anyone? I don’t know if I will post it on but I might! Thanks again Emma!

  10. Haley commented on:

    Heartless looks good! You’re a great author, Marissa!

  11. Adele commented on:

    Marissa, when will the cover for winter and heartless be revealed?

    • Marissa commented on:

      Hi Adele, the cover for Winter will be released next summer some time. Heartless… probably not until the spring or so of 2015.

  12. adele commented on:

    Bummer. I cannot wait to see the covers for Winter and Heartless. I’m sure they’ll be awesome!~:)

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