Wednesday, 2 December 2009

First Steps


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.

And finally...
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!

32 comments:

Calistro said...

Many, many, many congratulations! I'm so pleased for you :)

Arosebyanyothername said...

Congratulations again - I'm sure that you can't have too many of them. All that effort now showing that it was worthwhile and it gives a good feeling to us too, who read your good news.
Even better it will be when we get to read your book!

DOT said...

What a great present for your birthday. Congratulations and belated happy birthday.

TIGGYWINKLE said...

Chris I feel so excited for you. Congratulations. You must be so proud of your self, that your hard work has paid off, and the efficiency of the publishers must be pure joy.

Frances said...

Chris, I loved reading this post so much, that...when I got to bottom I went right back to the top...and read it again.

Happy Birthday to you, relish the fantastic feeling that surrounds you. xo

LittleBrownDog said...

See - we KNEW it would happen, it was just a matter of when. I'm absolultely thrilled for you. You SO deserve this. Can't wait to see your book made flesh. A million congratulations (and do bear me in mind for the launch party - especially if Tom's profiteroles are featuring). HOORAH!!!!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

cant see this 'bitch streak' you were warbling on about! one for the family album?
Happy birthday - better late etc etc

bradan said...

Haven't had much time to comment on blogs lately but couldn't miss this one - absolutely brilliant news, knew you could do it! Huge congratulatons and Happy Birthday wishes. xx

her at home said...

what a superb birthday present!! Well done!!

toady said...

Belated Happy Birthday and well done. You must be so chuffed!!

ChrisH said...

Thanks, Cally - it's slightly overwhelming at the moment.

Rosie, sorry - I keep droning on so thanks for taking the time to comment again!

Dave, thanks for both!

Tiggy, thanks. I do feel very fortunate to have been taken on by this company.

Aw, Frances, that's nice.

LBD, phew! Long haul, eh? Profiteroles all round, I think!

SBS... what do you think that is right in the middle of my fringe,eh? Still, glad it's not quite as bright in the photo as it is in real life!

Bradan, many thanks for taking the time to comment when you are so busy.

Hah, thanks dear heart!

Toady, thanks for your kind comment. I'm still a bit too dazed to be chuffed.

Withy Brook said...

I am sooo looking forward to reading your book. It really is the very best of news and a great birthday present. Belated happy birthday.

JJ Beattie said...

Congratulations to you Chris. It's always wonderful to hear, despite everything, publisher do want to publish!

I am grinning for you.

Helen Ginger said...

Yay! Happy Birthday and Congratulations. It will be so much fun to follow you along on the process. Reading how things are going. Then getting the book!

Very exciting.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Pondside said...

Wow Chris!! It's real - you're on the way. Skip the hotel when you come this way on your book tour - there's a beautiful room waiting here for you, with a view of the ponds.

Lane said...

Congratulations and fanTAStic!

Such great news Chris and so well deserved. It was only a matter of time.

What a brilliant birthday. What a great end to the year:-)

xx

Fennie said...

What a lovely picture! And such a great smile. And no wonder! So glad for you Chris - really I am. May there be many more books to follow, each building on the success of the last. I know what they mean about impact, though. Sometimes I think it takes me three paragraphs of circling round a topic to decide what I should be writing about - and that's just an article. I wonder what impact all this will have on your running? Oh and a belated happy birthday, by the way. You deserved your champagne!

Milla said...

fan-bloody-tastic, Chris, am still grinning fatly for you. Profiteroles needed over here, too.
May it be the first of many XX

Flowerpot said...

That is such good news Chris I'm so very pleased for you, I really am!

ChrisH said...

Withy, come back to Pembrokeshire so we can get together with Mags and celebrate.

JJ, thanks - yes, it does indeed show that there are still opportunities out there.

Helen, thank you, what a kind thing to say.

Aw, Pondside, now wouldn't that be great?

Lane, thanks - it does seem to have happened at once. Quite overwhelming. Love to Peggy and Teas.

Fennie, you'll make me blush! And you're being too modest about your own writing. Thank you 'though.

Milla, ta a lot - yes I think a profiterolefest is def in order!

Fp, thank you. It can only be a matter of time before the next Novel Racer breaks through with everyone working so hard towards the same goal. We'll get there!

Edward said...

Fabulous news and a fab picture too - you deserve it and that huge grin!

Preseli Mags said...

You absolutely deserve it. What a terrific present for your birthday (many happy returns). I can't wait to go into Waterstones and buy my very own copy (and I can't promise not to brag at the till that I know the author...!)

Debs said...

Computer just lost my comment!

Congratulations, what wonderful news, and so well deserves. Big hugs all round.x

Happy belated birthday too, oh and love the photo.

Fia said...

I love the photo of you signing the contract.

So pleased for you. Hugs, congrats and cheers!

ChrisH said...

Thanks, Edward - it's starting to sink in!
Mags, we'll be going in together when you get offered your deal too, so I'll be able to brag as well.
Debs, oh, don't you just hate it when blogger eats your comment? Thanks for congratulations and for reposting the comment.

Fia, thanks so much. Here's to many more NR deals,eh?

Cottage Garden said...

Bit late with my comments here Chris, but well done you! How exciting - I can't wait to see your book in the shops!
Belated Happy Birthday wishes too!

Jeanne x

Pat Posner said...

Brilliant news, Chris

Really, really pleased for you!

xxPat

elizabethm said...

Can't tell you how pleased I am - congratulations and, as LBD says, we knew it would happen. You have so much talent and so much determination and perseverance, how could it not? Fab picture, you look so happy! Now when can I buy your book? I really want to read it! xx

ChrisH said...

Jeanne, lovely to hear from you and thank you.

Pat, thank you - I've got some way to go to catch up with you.

Elizabeth - aw, thanks. I am feeling happy now... was a bit shaken at first after waiting for this moment!

Captain Black said...

More Racer success! Fantastic news and well done. Also, belated Happy Birthday.

Nice photo. It's great to see what you like like after staring at the back of your head for ages ;o)

ChrisH said...

Thanks very much, Captain... yes, well, I don't know which is scarier - the back or the front. How's your writing going?

Liane Spicer said...

Oooh! This is so exciting!

"...to have someone enjoy what I’ve written is a huge compliment and a wonderful feeling..." That's it exactly!