Illegal by Bettina Restrepo – The Publication Journey

Many have been curious about the publication journey for my novel, Illegal.bettina-restrepo-writer-ya

I received word on my “big” book deal on Friday from HarperCollins in December 2009 – but the book wouldn’t be published until March  2011.

The big publishing companies are not Kinko’s, agreeing to something today, and pushing it out overnight.  It’s more like an elephant’s pregnancy.  Something expectant and huge.  But how long did it take to write my book?  On and off, six years.  I rewrote the book so many times I lost count.

The first draft came in a flurry in 2003 when I was a very inexperienced writer.  The first draft was 125 pages long and named Off Quitman Avenue.  In my naive exuberance, I sent it out to publishing houses and got plenty of rejections.  Rule #1 – never, never, never send out your first, second or third draft.  You are not that good, and I was no exception to that rule.

2004 – I redrafted during my pregnancy and maternity leave.  Things got better.  I expanded by about 40 pages while my little man slept.

2005 – Signed with a literary agent.  We got two rounds of rejections and he stopped submitting.  Note to self:  the world is not quite right when flooded in post-hormonal sleepless nights.  I constantly tinkered with the book, plus I wrote and published other things.

2006 – I did another round of intensive edits on this book.  Agent seemed not interested, and I grew to hate Illegal.  I moved on to new book as I relocated with my hubby and baby to Frisco, Texas.  I left my corporate job and began writing full time.  I left agent #1.

2007 – Writer friends encouraged me to work on Illegal even though I told them I hated the characters and wanted them all deported.  They encouraged me to go to conferences and submit the work.  The story grew and changed, so I changed the title to Mija.

2008 – A new wonderful agent was kind enough to fall in love with my characters and take a chance on me.  She asked all the right questions which prompted more revisions, more writing.

Late 2008 – The manuscript, Illegal, went out to one editor who bought it in April 2009 and will publish it in winter 2011.

Nine years to birth a book.  Thank you to Katherine Tegen and her assistants—Teresa Harris, Jennifer Christy and Katie Bignell.