In July, I opened Book2Book’s ‘Book Trade News Digest’ for a quick scan and noticed that an author I ‘knew’ had just been taken on by a publisher I didn’t know. Popping over to their site to satisfy my curiosity, it only took a few seconds for me to realise that this was The One. I couldn’t imagine a better fit for my novel.
The novel had spent many months on two desks before being rejected with heaps of praise that were incredibly frustrating to read and left me wondering why, if they loved it so much, they hadn’t taken it on. This time, though, I was sure my book was a good match so I sent an email with a synopsis to the publishers the same day and was absolutely beside myself when I had a return email the next day asking to see the entire manuscript.
An amazingly prompt six weeks later I had my reply; they loved the story and characters but wanted some changes. Now, during its time on two desks, FTT, as I nicknamed it, had gone through a couple of metamorphoses, but this time the changes really made sense. I’d never been entirely happy with the opening of my novel but there were passages I really liked which, until then, had stopped me killing my darlings. Truly, one of the most important lessons you can learn as a writer is to listen to your inner bullsh*t detector. If you know something stinks then clear it up! I’d been ignoring the smell of my opening chapter for a long time, but as soon as the publishers pointed out to me that it lacked impact I got rid of it and it transformed the novel. By the end of a busy two weeks incorporating the suggested amendments I had a version of FTT I was really happy with and sent it off.
Again, the publishers were very prompt in replying and told me when I could expect a decision. There are worse things in life than waiting for a response to a manuscript, but one of the aspects I’ve really appreciated about working with this company is that they’ve done exactly what they said they would do when they agreed to do it which has made the wait so much easier. Even so, when the decisive email appeared in my inbox, I had a sudden, ‘Uh-oh, this is going to ruin my day’ thought as I fumbled to open it.
Since reading, ‘we would like to discuss offering you a publishing contract’, I’ve been trying to absorb this feeling of stepping over the threshold I’ve dreamt of crossing for so long. Even as I stood waiting to meet my publisher I was convinced that they’d say they’d made a terrible mistake, so when I was told, ‘everyone who’s read it loves your book’ I had a bit of a rush of blood to the head (mind you, the 5am start didn’t help). I’ve only ever wanted to be a writer and to have someone enjoy what I’ve written is a huge compliment and a wonderful feeling. I’m looking forwards to the next step.
It’s also been my birthday this weekend and it’s fair to say we’ve done some celebrating. My thanks to Rose and Si for a lovely meal, Lily for a welcome break and Stepson Two and Gorgeous Girlf who arrived with gifts of Laurent-Perrier and crystal glasses. My thanks too, to Tom, as ever, for looking after me.
Photo shows me with my contract!