So, with one offer already on the table, the week crept by… I edited like a fury (human rights-related stuff, which did help to put my fretting in context) and tried not to think about it. I’m not really a superstitious person, but it felt like daydreaming too much would jinx things… or just drive me nuts. I didn’t want to end up daydreaming too many wonderful scenarios over and over again in case I started feeling like those ‘pie in the sky’ type outcomes were actually inevitable: no amount of modesty (not one of my vices anyway) can temper a surfeit of hope into realistic expectations… So I just try not to expect anything, but still hope for the best.
And, besides, it wasn’t hard – I already had an offer. A really wonderful offer. Of course more than one is always nice, but it’s just the icing on the cake. One good offer is all it takes to get into print and, really, that’s the important thing for your debut novel.
And then came Monday. A little after 3.30pm, the phone rang. It was Claire. With news.
There had been a bidding war for my book! My book! Two further, fantastic publishers I had only dreamed might one day be interested in me both wanted my book… And both had put the same top offer on the table. So it fell to me to choose which one to go with.
I suddenly realised how completely agonising the reality of multiple offers actually is. How do you say ‘no’ to people you’d love to work with? Who you would practically have killed to work with a fortnight ago? As a not-yet-published writer it a dreadful thing (though a huge privilege at the same time) to turn down a fantastic offer from a wonderful publisher. My first thought was to ask Claire if I could just write another book for the other publisher so I wouldn’t have to say ‘no’ to anyone. It felt horribly ungrateful to be turning them down when it really was a dream come true to have them want me…
But Claire, wonderful, patient agent that she is, explained (in very small words, which was all I was capable of processing at the time) that when a publisher launches an author, they have to invest a lot of money… So they want to get a good return on their money by (all things being equal) keeping the author as ‘their’ author, rather than sharing. In other words, my wish to show my gratitude really wasn’t going to be appreciated… Woe! Ah well, at least the thought was there.
So… there I was with two five-figure offers on the table and a third, though lower offer, all from absolutely fantastic publishers…
As you know, I ended up going with Faber & Faber. I am still surprised and amazed that they like my book and that I get to work with such wonderful people. It’s been absolutely amazing… and the book isn’t even in print yet!