The Heartless Timeline: Steps to Selling a New Project

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!