Botching The Call
I want to thank Clarissa for inviting me today. You have a wonderful blog site—so full of awesome information and enthusiasm. It’s fun to be here. I’d like to share my Call story with you and, at the risk of looking like Dr. Doofenschmirtz (anyone else a Phineas and Ferb fan?), I’ll be as brutally honest as I can in hopes of helping others avoid my silliness.
Every writer dreams of Getting The Call. For every published author, the time, date and place is etched in permanent memory. For every not-yet-published author, her (or his) imagination runs wild imagining how exciting the moment will be. I totally planned to throw the biggest party ever the day I sold a book. But, I’m here to tell you even the biggest dreamer can botch it. Yup. Talking about botching The Call.
Let me start in the present and tell you I did sell my book, and I’m thrilled beyond words. And very, very excited! Mind you, I don’t have a release date yet so the anticipation is nerve-wracking, and thinking about promo and sales gives me a stomach ache, but I’m drumming up promotion plans every day. And I’m proud of myself for achieving this goal.
I just didn’t start that way.
I’ve wanted to sell a book ever since I wrote my own versions of The Black Stallion novels when I was a kid. You know: write, sell in a small bidding war :-), see the book on the shelves, follow that with signings. I did all the right things: joined RWA; entered contests; learned to take critiques learned to take rejections. Then I entered the RWA Golden Heart® in 2010 and, to my shock and honor, won the single title contemporary category.
Soon afterward I was approached by the smart, savvy Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein of McIntosh & Otis, who became my agent. The moment I signed with her I figured my dream was a slam-dunk.
Three rejections later, she told me not to worry—today’s market is fickle. Two more rejections garnered more “don’t worries.” At last the moment came when she called me without setting up a phone meeting! I was painting a room at the time and I knew I’d better get away from the brushes because this was going to be great news and I didn’t want to make a disastrous mess with my jubilant dancing.
The offer was from Avon’s brand new digital platform line, Impulse. An e-book. Huh? This wasn’t the three-book print contract of my dreams. This would be settling for second best. I was honored an editor liked my story but c’mon.
See the start of my botch job? I still had a bias against e-books. Weren’t they just for those who couldn’t make it in print? (And all my incredibly talented e-pubbed friends are, at this moment, simultaneously cursing me and singing nanny-nanny-boo-boo.)
My agent assured me this was a great offer. She wasn’t done querying her list of print houses yet, and she would mention I had someone else interested, but this was a wonderful position to be in. Tiny feelings of pride trickled in, but I’d be hard-pressed to deny that I held out a LOT of hope for the four queries still in the hands of print editors.
I got one more call. “So-and-so, from Such-and-Such is really interested. Have you ever considered a series for this book?” “Why, yes. Yes, indeed I have.” “Great. I’ll let you know.” Here was my real offer!
Need you ask what happened? So-and-So, the last of the print editors, passed on my book. I’d failed to make the Varsity team. My editor said the words. “I think we should take the Avon offer. They’re really excited about the book.”
“Great!” I replied. Great. I’ve made the B-Squad.
See how badly I botched it? I’m the only person I know who wept when I got my sale.
Before you wonderful e-published authors start running to the kitchen for rotten tomatoes, let me make my pitiful case. I’m not older than dirt, but I am very much old enough to have grown up with only one idea of what a book should be. I had no experience with e-books, didn’t own an e-reader, didn’t see the appeal.
It took me many days to stop explaining my “second-best” offer and begin to really look at how the electronic market is booming and the print market is shrinking. I started extolling the positives of being on the cutting edge with a house like Avon. I got a wonderful note from my new editor, Tessa Woodward, and then I met her at RWA Nationals. Guess what? My giddy, whooping, I-Sold-My-Novel moment happened in spades when Tessa looked me in the eye and said, “I Loooove your book!” Can I just say, an in person Call totally trumps a phone Call!
So, what’s my lesson for you? If you do things right, your dreams have wings – the problem is, things with wings sometimes fly in erratic ways. You have to let them. My imagined dream took a flight path I didn’t expect. I pouted at first because, well, I’m Dr. Doofenschmirtz. But I’m thrilled now. And I have a book coming out after Christmas!
There’s one more lesson. If you haven’t yet embraced the new world book order, do it! Don’t be stubborn like I was. I have a brand new Nook and I love it. I’ve been reading e-books, and I love them. I will never give up my paper books, but thanks to my experience I’ve made room in my heart for the new technology. And if I sell a second book to Impulse, you can bet I won’t be botching THAT Call!!
Tell me what your dream Call was like or what you imagine it will be like. Do you have the same prejudices I did or have you been on the cutting edge all along? I’d love to hear! And I’d love to invite you all to visit the new Avon Impulse site – there are already some awesome writers for you to discover. www.avonimpulse.com.