A reader emailed to ask when I would tell the story of how my novel sold. To tell the truth, I'm a little surprised I haven't already, it's just that I'm still adjusting to the newness of it all.
I'd imagined the sale of my book a thousand times before it happened, every possible scenario from the most humble story to the most extravagant dream. No matter the version, it always started the same way: with a call from my agent.
The Saturday before my world changed, Lynne and I headed to Cornerstone Books -- home of Grub Street North -- where Lynne was doing an afternoon signing for her parenting book Negotiation Generation and then later that same night, the inaugural workshop of Grub North. Lynne was discussing writing in both non-fiction and fiction, just days after selling her novel Life Without Summer (I know, she's a whirlwind).
We had some down time that Saturday between her engagements, a lot of time to talk. My book was out on submission, a week and a half by then, and I was beginning to wonder what would happen if it didn't sell. We talked it through, Lynne is a therapist. She was convinced it would sell, but I knew the world to be more capricious than that. As we talked, I came to the realization that if my novel never sold, it was okay, I still loved my story. It was something I would always be proud of even if it never received the approval of the publishing world. It was the best writing I could do at that point in my life. As the day wore on, my anxiety lessened and I told her what a relief the weekend was. I didn't have to jump each time the phone rang or my email pinged. No one ever received word over the weekend, I said. If you know Lynne, then you know the smile she gave when she repeated my own words back to me, We shall see.
The next morning, 8:00 am, I went online to read the Sunday papers. There was an email from my dream agent Emma Sweeney, I have wonderful news! Words I'd been praying to hear for years, never expecting to read on a Sunday morning. I called my husband over to my side; we hugged, I cried. Then the children. They engulfed me with hugs and cheers; this was our victory. They'd been so patient with me for so long, and never once did their support falter. Still in my pajamas, I ran across the street to my brother's house where my nieces and nephew were watching cartoons, their parents asleep upstairs. We whispered cheers, jumping up and down all the while.
I told my Writers' Group next. We were all stunned. Lynne cried for me, as I had with her news. Lisa called from California, her joy closing the miles. When I spoke with Hannah, I was in such a stupor, I can't honestly recall what was said, just that her voice was warm and wonderful. Truly, the success belongs to all of us.
You know the rest. It went to auction, until it found its home with Sally Kim of Shaye Areheart Books editing. Yes, there is such a thing as a dream editor and she's it. The amazing foreign rights team at Random House went to Frankfurt and have so far sold rights to Italy, Holland, and the UK. And together we'll see what comes next.
I'm still adjusting, expecting a call (or email) telling me that everyone has made a terrible mistake, it won't be published after all. I'm told that's a normal reaction. John Elder Robison whose book Look Me In the Eye is also with Random House walked me through what to expect the next year. He's so kind. After hearing everything that needs to happen between now and next fall, I'm not anxious for the book to be published now.
It's still surreal, I'm still numb, but that's okay. It's the most extravagant dream I ever imagined come true.
Monday, October 22, 2007