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Story of a Sale: THROUGH TO YOU by Emily Hainsworth

These last few weeks have been very hectic for me for a wonderful reason! I just sold a really exciting deal for my debut author client Emily Hainsworth. As announced in Publisher’s Weekly a week ago, and in PM this week, THROUGH TO YOU and a second, untitled book, sold to Alessandra Balzer of Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, in a good deal, at auction.

(Photo credit: Matthew Lowery Photography)

Emily and I first made contact last summer, when she queried me with a YA. I read it twice, really loved her voice, but it wasn’t quite there yet. It had some issues and I didn’t know if I wanted to take Emily on without seeing some revision skills first. So I told her to go back into her writerly hidey-hole and return with her next project. She did. It was THROUGH TO YOU. A brilliant, high-concept premise paired perfectly with her strong, literary writing voice. Dreamboat! I fell out of my chair, read it the same day (a busy November Saturday in Chicago when I kept sneaking away from an event to read my Kindle in a locked bathroom stall…true story!), offered representation, and won the opportunity to work on this awesome book.

I gave Emily revision notes, she worked on it for about a month, sent it back, and then we were ready to go out in January. I drummed up some excitement by pitching to editors in person at ALA, then sent it out on Friday, January 14th. Here’s an excerpt from my pitch letter, where I positioned THROUGH TO YOU as a cross between BEFORE I FALL and THIRTEEN REASONS WHY:

The day grief-stricken high school senior Camden Pike sees a ghost is the day he assumes he’s finally lost it. For the last two months, he’s been torturing himself after walking away from the car accident that killed his girlfriend, Viv. She was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after an injury ended his football career, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, healing his pain long after the drugs wore off. He’d give anything for one glimpse of her again. But now there’s a ghost at the accident site…and it isn’t Viv.

Cam quickly realizes the apparition, Nina, isn’t a ghost at all. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Cam is the one who died, and Viv is alive and well. Cam’s wildest prayers have been answered and now all he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But the accident isn’t the only new thing about this other world: Viv and Cam both made very different choices here that changed things between them. For all Cam’s love and longing, Viv isn’t exactly the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose–stay with Viv, or let her go–before the window closes between them once and for all.

I still get chills reading this synopsis, because the story really is that good. Luckily, I’m not the only one who thought so. One week after submission, we had our first offer. The next week, we went to auction. The same day I sent out auction rules, my hard-working foreign rights co-agent Taryn Fagerness closed a huge pre-empt from German publisher Goldmann. She sold Italy later that week. The next week we closed the auction and THROUGH TO YOU officially went to its home at Balzer + Bray.

There have been even more top secret developments for this book since then, but I figure this is great news for now. Emily (website, Twitter) has her own write-up of the experience here. And here’s what Alessandra Balzer, Emily’s new editor, has to say about reading THROUGH TO YOU for the first time:

When I read Mary’s description of THROUGH TO YOU, I thought — OK, this sounds very intriguing. A parallel reality is a hard thing to pull off in a convincing way, though, so I stayed a little wary. I started the manuscript and from the first page I immediately liked Cam’s voice and felt drawn in. But still, I wondered — how will this play out? Then, when Cam sees the girl by the site of the accident — I expected it to be his dead girlfriend. When it wasn’t — when it was actually a new character with secrets to reveal to Cam about his own life — that’s when I knew I was hooked. Emily has created so many great and unexpected twists and turns in this plot — you really don’t see what’s coming next. I also love the idea of choices in this novel — and how one bad turn can lead you down a path that you were never meant to be on.

We’re all thrilled with the success of THROUGH TO YOU so far, and hope you will pick it up and discover the twists, turns, thrills, and secrets for yourselves when the novel hits stores in Fall 2012!

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  1. Michelle Julian-Castrofilippo’s avatar

    This is great news! I’m happy for both you and Emily, and it sounds like you have a lot to celebrate. I’m only sorry I have to wait almost two years to read it.

  2. Brittany’s avatar

    Congrats to both of you! :) It sounds like a great book, and I can’t wait to read it!

  3. Robin’s avatar

    Wow! Congrats Emily!

  4. Guinevere’s avatar

    Thanks for the story – it’s always neat to read about authors’ (and their books’) journeys. And THROUGH TO YOU sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to read it!

  5. Susanna Hill’s avatar

    Wow! Congratulations to you and Emily! And if you were hoping to raise interest, it worked. I will looking for this book as soon as it comes out. I loved BEFORE I FALL. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY was also good, although it didn’t work quite as well for me – I was a little disappointed in Hannah’s character. But I can’t wait to read THROUGH TO YOU!

  6. Anita’s avatar

    Congratulations! This sounds like a great story.

  7. Amy’s avatar

    Congratulations!! I, too, am really anxious to read this. You will remind us when it comes out, won’t you, Mary?? Thought so!

  8. KDuBayGillis’s avatar

    Le sigh. Sounds so amazing. Can’t wait. So extremely happy for you both! Love the dual blogs with stories and perspectives. Thanks ladies for sharing the ride!

  9. Carolyn’s avatar

    Huzzah!!! How bloody fantastic is all that?!?

  10. PatEsden’s avatar

    Congratulations to the both of you!

    I can’t wait to read it.

  11. shelley’s avatar

    Congratulations to you both! Can’t wait to read it.

  12. Jackie Yeager’s avatar

    What a fabulous story to wake up to this morning. Hooray, Mary and Emily!! Can’t wait to read it. :)

  13. Michael G-G’s avatar

    Congrats to Emily and all concerned.

    The only downside to all this is having to wait till Fall 2012 to read it!

  14. Melissa K’s avatar

    Wow! Sounds like a great book.

  15. Amanda Hoving’s avatar

    Congratulations! (Loved the image of you reading in the locked bathroom stall, BTW…proof that this book must be pretty fantastic.) Can’t wait to hear about the secret developments, and of course, eventually read the book.

  16. Miles’s avatar

    Oh my goodness, congratulations!!! THROUGH TO YOU sounds AMAZING; like everyone else, I just have to complain about the fact that fall 2012 seems sooo far away!

    Great job, everyone involved, I CANNOT wait to read this! :)

  17. Liesl’s avatar

    Wow, this sounds amazing! Congratulations and I can’t wait to read!

  18. Kristen Faulconer’s avatar

    What great news! Congratulations, Mary and Emily!

  19. Jenna’s avatar

    I will definitely be looking for this book, it sounds amazing!

  20. Adele Richards’s avatar

    YEY! Great news, Mary! Well done!

    (and wow, it takes a long time to bring a book to market!)

  21. zach’s avatar

    Livin the dream, Emily. Livin the dream.

  22. Marybk’s avatar

    Fantastic news, Emily and Mary. Can’t wait for this one to hit the shelves. Sounds like a page-turner.

  23. Elizabeth Simpson’s avatar

    Wow, I loved reading both versions! Great work, you two. Mary, I can always count on your blog for inspiration…even on days when revising feels like swimming in molasses. :)

  24. David Caruba’s avatar

    Hi Mary,

    This was really great to read. Thanks for sharing your take and congrats to Emily.

    David

  25. cindy’s avatar

    wonderful news mary!!

    congrats to you and emily!!! hoorah!

  26. Cindy Paul’s avatar

    Wow! I already envision many images in my mind of the characters and the setting. I look forward to checking this out. Congratulations!

  27. Julie Hedlund’s avatar

    What a story! Congrats to both of you. THROUGH TO YOU sounds like an amazing book. Can’t wait to see it on the shelves.

  28. Estee Wood’s avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous story. Congratulations to you both.

  29. Lisa Frischhertz’s avatar

    I can’t wait to read this book, and congratulations to you both! I also read Emily’s side of the story, and it was great hearing the process from the writer and the agent’s POV. Gives hope to all us newbs!

  30. Franziska Green’s avatar

    I feel a movie coming on! Wonderful news!

  31. Beth’s avatar

    Yippee! I love a good success story.

  32. Chersti’s avatar

    So exciting!! Can’t wait to read it :-)

  33. Crystal R.’s avatar

    Wow . . . this book sounds like it will be an AWESOME read! What a delightful success story . . . congratulations to both Emily and Mary!

  34. Lyle Blake Smythers’s avatar

    Sounds interesting, but I’m wondering if I’m the only one who had this problem: Okay, I get that there is this parallel-world Viv, but about halfway through the pitch I got the impression that this Nina is supposed to be the parallel-world Viv with a different name, then by the end it sounded as if she is not but is another character entirely. After I had read the pitch three times I concluded that maybe Nina is indeed a separate character, not the parallel-world Viv under a diff name, but if I’m confused maybe others would be too? Should the reader have to reread the hook three times to understand the plot? Or maybe Im just incredibly dense.

  35. Emy Shin’s avatar

    Huge congratulations to both of you! :]

  36. Howlynn Martin’s avatar

    Congrats! Goosebumps and grins to you both! Thanks for lettin us all in to enjoy the fun! Big contented sigh – so very happy for you! hugs!!!

  37. janet smith’s avatar

    Sometimes–no, usually–I feel lost and overwhelmed in writing my next book. Her story gives me hope!

  38. Lily, you're silly.’s avatar

    LOL @ Lily Blake-Smithers Feb 23 /11. You asked “Should the reader have to re-read the pitch 3 times to understand” NOOO, just you. THROUGH 2 YOU has a PLOT! Uh-oh! You’d better stick to Twilight.

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