bid

daffodil close up

Choosing a publisher

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!

Let the bidding war start!

So, you probably already know by know how this story ends… but the journey was fun too.

My wonderful agent submitted the book on 5th March. She seemed upbeat all week. I worked like mad on editing for other people and tried not to think about the book at all.

Then, on the following Monday, my agent emailed with the news I’d been waiting my whole life for: a wonderful publisher had made an offer on the book. Finally, someone wanted my work! Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel… the whole stupid business of writing that I’d had my heart set on since before I could remember was actually going to pan out.

I read the email properly… Claire was confident that there would be more offers: that this was just the first.

Of course I’d hoped for that, who wouldn’t? But I hadn’t really expected it to happen. I hadn’t ‘expected’ someone – anyone – to say yes at all…

I didn’t quite know what to do with myself at that point, but decided that it didn’t really matter. One way or another, I was  going to get published. Finally, the life I’d always wanted was about to start: my life as a professioanal writer. I was numb with happiness, and relief that I wasn’t going to have to go through my whole life hoping and never quite achieving.

I am still just as happy as on that day: it hasn’t paled. Whenever I’m miserable, I remind myself I’m going to be published soon and I can’t help but smile. And I don’t think that’s going to change.

 

Anyone else out there with a similar story? Or a similar dream? I’d love to hear how it all came together for you.

PS: In case you’re wondering why I have two blogs when the last batch of posts have basically been the same… I will only cross-post on both this site and The Bone Dragon (or TBD as I think of it) for posts about TBD. Down the line, the blogs will diverge again. Thanks for bearing with me in the meantime!