The day I got a book deal
When I first snagged an agent in October 2018, I waited eagerly for the offer of publication that would surely follow. That's how it works, right?
In the end, it took a good three months before a deal was finalised on 'Everything is Fine' - and speaking to other agented authors I've found that this was a pretty quick turnaround. Some end up shelving one book and writing another before catching an editor's eye. No matter how good you are, there's still an element of good timing and good luck when it comes to getting signed up.
The problem is, having waited so long to clear one hurdle, it feels almost impossible that you then have to wait. Again.
After six weeks or so of inbox-refreshing, I began to get used to the idea that things weren't going to be quick. In fact, my old doubts resurfaced and I began to assume that it just wasn't going to happen this time, for this book. Or maybe at all. That maybe my agent was regretting signing me in the first place.
I like to stay positive, like that.
I tried to take action, digging out a previous manuscript that had been in a drawer for a while to see if I could pimp it up. I thought of a few new ideas.
Eventually, I got on with life and instead of thinking about it 24/7 reduced my nail-biting hours of angst to around 20/7, maybe 19 on a good day.
Then an innocuous email arrived in my inbox. But as my agent, Ger, had been emailing me fairly regularly about this and that, when I clicked on the email that would change my life, I had no expectation that it would be anything other than a brief update.
Instead, my agent told me that I'd had an offer. Adrenaline rushed through me and before I'd read the whole thing I was off my chair, rushing to my husband Ray and gabbling that I'd got a book deal.
Revisiting the email with him minutes later I found that my agent had written back to negotiate on a few points with the publisher.
Nooo! I could literally have screamed. What on earth was she thinking of? I would have pretty much signed anything just to make that offer a pinned-down reality.
In fact, if someone had asked me to sign over my first-born in order to keep the publisher sweet, I may have considered it. They could definitely have had the cat. (This, I realise, is why writers like me NEED an agent.
After all, I'm quite fond of the cat.)
In the strange, excited but terrified limbo I was left in, I did what I always do when I get good news (so at least once a decade or so) and rang my mum. Who didn't pick up. I rang my sister, who also wasn't available. I rang my little brother and gibbered to him down the phone. He was thrilled for me but had to get back to work.
And I was left, back on the email refreshing, for about two weeks while missives went back and forth, agreeing clauses and advances and other important but time-hungry things. Just when things were agreed, guess what happened?
Finally in January 2019, I signed and began to count the days down to the proposed pub date of May 2020 (yep, I was waiting for 2020...)
Now, I'm eagerly awaiting my US debut this month, then it's on to May when Novel no.2 will hit the (hopefully virus free) shelves.
People sometimes ask me about the challenges that come with being a writer.
I'm pretty sure they're thinking about ideas and writing time and rejection and acceptance and editing and interviews and (cringe) trying to take an author shot where I don't look either insane or too much like my mother.
But the main challenge for me is the bit that comes between those things.
The excess wait.