I cannot believe how fast time has been going lately. When you first sell a book, the one and a half to three years before publication feels like FOREVER! But just like last time, the last six months zoom by!
Today it is only four more months until NEVER ENOUGH hits the shelves! To celebrate, I'm here to share another secret about the book.
If you're a writer and you've written more than a couple of books, I would be surprised if you haven't come across a book that's so similar to yours that it makes you physically sick. It happens it all of us. It happened to me. With this book.
So I'm here to tell you, there is hope!
I started writing NEVER ENOUGH about seven years ago. At the time, it had a different title, but the basic premise was close to what it is now. It's about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family. The main character is a photographer. It's a story of grief and healing and finding your place in the world.
I finished the book, had it critiqued, revised it, sent it out to agents, the whole shebang. When it didn't get any bites, I went back to the drawing board, rewriting it pretty much from scratch. It still ended up being the same characters with the same basic premise though.
I queried again. Meanwhile I was writing LOSING FAITH and revising NEVER ENOUGH every time I received feedback from agents - and the feedback was getting more encouraging and specific. Finally I got an agent! Yayyyyy! And not only did she love LOSING FAITH and want to get it up for sale quickly, she loved the premise of NEVER ENOUGH. Double yayyyyy!! I was in the middle of another revision, so I said I'd forward it to her when it was done.
So, as you can see, by this time I had put A LOT of work into this manuscript. It had been written from scratch at least a couple of times, and had been revised more times than I could count on my fingers and toes. But the story and the characters were important to me. I believed in them. So I kept at it.
Finally I sent NEVER ENOUGH to my agent. While I was waiting for her feedback, my critique partner send me an email with something like "Um, have you seen this?" in the subject line. She proceeded to share with me a synopsis of a new book coming out. Guess what it was about? Two sisters and the eating disorder that was tearing their family apart. And, yes, the main character was a photographer, plus, as far as I could tell, many of the other themes matched up. It was SO similar, in fact, that my critique partner asked me if the author had ever critiqued for me. She hadn't, of course.
Oh, and did I mention that the author of this replica of my book was also a former soap opera star and therefore already had a platform as an author? Yeah, it wasn't going to just fade away.
So, yes, I got sick about it for a few weeks. I entered contests until I won an early copy of the book. The author signed a nice note in the front of the book for me, and was so friendly it made it difficult to be angry with her. But I had to be angry with somebody, didn't I? I mean, I had spent HUNDREDS of hours on this manuscript! And now I was just supposed to trash it?
No, I wasn't. As usual, my agent was able to talk me down from the ledge. She encouraged me to read the book first. Then we would talk about it. I did. The first thing I realized is that even though there were a lot of similarities, her book was intended for a younger audience. But also, no matter how similar a premise, my characters were just not her characters. Each set had their own depth.
And...as you know, this story has a happy ending. After taking some time to tweak the manuscript with the help of my agent, we were able to sell NEVER ENOUGH only a year after the other book came out! This story and these characters are still so very important to me, and I'm so glad I didn't give up when this (or other things) threatened to kill my enthusiasm for it.
I've heard from many a writer about the book that they had to shelve because of something too similar releasing (and breaking their heart), so I just wanted to share my experience to let you know there still is hope :-)