Monday, October 22, 2007


By Amy

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.


Lisa said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story. How fascinating that the good news came at the point that you were at peace with the idea that you'd be ok with whatever happened. Congratulations to you Amy. This could not have happened to a nicer person :)))

Larramie said...

Hi, Amy. Yes I'm back and just in time to read the details of your success. Of course you made the entire sale happen by simply "letting go"...something that works every time! *G*

And PLEASE don't say you're not anxious for publication, I'm counting down the months as are four other countries thus far.

Lisa said: "Congratulations to you Amy. This could not have happened to a nicer person :))) " Double those feelings from me!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, thank you for all of the support. I can't wait to cheer for you when it's your turn (I'll send brownies, too!).

Larramie, welcome home from NYC; your daisies were missed. Of course you're right about letting go. Isn't it always the way? And it's very sweet of you to say anyone is looking forward to reading my book. We shall see.


Larramie said...

Copy your "We shall see," you don't want to jinx anything, do you? *BG* So I'll promise to watch my words. ;)

And, though my vacation was wonderfully glorious, you were all missed.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Larramie is back! We missed you!

And Amy what a wonderful story - it is heartening to hear these types of success stories. I can't wait to purchase your book and read it! Thanks for sharing this.

Therese Fowler said...

"I'll never get tired of hearing this story."

Sound familiar? :)

You know, I was impatient for quick publication at first--but now I'm very glad to have what will be seventeen months between sale and publication (well, US publication) because there is so much to it and I'm appreciating having time to process it all.

Do they have a pub date for you yet? Seems to me August releases have been good for RH fiction this year...maybe next year too!

Congratulations to you and your foreign rights team!! At this rate you may earn out before the manuscript goes to press.

p.s. I think Lynne and I live on the same wavelength--'cause who else was saying "when," hmmm?

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Ello, it gives me goosebumps to think you and others might possibly read it. And btw, if my children accompany me to DC for a reading, which I'd love, I promise they will be exceptionally well-behaved (see Ello's post). They are amazing people.

Therese,yes, you were a vigorous cheerleader as well, for which I'm thankful. Very. As for pub date, August, September? When I know, you'll know. Yes, the foreign rights team at Random House is amazing! John Robison said publicity and sales are equally wonderful. I can't wait to meet them all!


Eileen said...

I love this story. When I heard the news I felt like cheering and it wasn't even my sale! : ) I hope you enjoy every step of the ride.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

Loved hearing the details of that day; when the magic words were said "I have wonderful news."

What a nice story. And you have already had foriegn rights sold. WOW. That is impressive.

Good luck and Enjoy.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Eileen, coming from you, such a talented writer, that means a lot. Just a few months now until your pub day. Do you have an exact date?

Usman, whne the time comes, I'msending you an ARC. You've been such wonderful support.


Anonymous said...

Amy, I must have missed this yesterday. An ARC, I am delighted to be on the list. Oh boy, am I proud that I'll get to read your book, before the rest of the world.
I'll stop writing and just enjoy what you said. Thanks.