I was just thinking… I haven’t really gotten a chance to share what it was like to find a publisher for BLISS–what, in fact, the whole process of writing it and shopping it around was like.
Short answer? Like birthing 65 bowling balls without an epidural (or an explanation for why I would be pregnant with bowling balls).
But let me back up.
I’ve known I wanted to write novels since I was able to read novels. And I’ve never had a desire to do anything else, at least professionally. (I delight in being a dilettante with baking and crocheting.) When I was very young, right out of college I had the almost-too-easy experience of selling my first novel, a historical romance, to a major publisher without an agent and without shopping it around. That’s a story for another day, but I will say that it gave me a skewed-as-hell idea of what it was like to get published, how rare and difficult it is. Later, I worked in the industry as an agent’s assistant and saw firsthand how tough it really is–even for great writers, which I was not.
A few years and a few life left turns later, I……was no longer writing historical romance and no longer under contract. But I wanted to be! While my first books did not exactly earn me fame (or really any money), they did afford me the luxury of not taking another career path seriously. I was always “a writer with a day job.” But time passed and I wasn’t selling any of my new book proposals. Now I needed an agent, and I needed to go through the process like anyone else. So I did. Over and over again, for a lot more years than I care to admit. I’d write a lengthy proposal, or a full book, and send it out with high hopes. Only to have those hopes (quelle surprise) dashed. Just like every other writer. Between each submission, I would grow despondent, take time off to mourn my stillborn babies. Yet I came back to writing because, quite frankly, I’m not very good at anything else. I do my day jobs, and I do them with diligence, but nothing beats being the mother of a novel for me.
This latest go around, with BLISS, I believed I hit upon a winning idea. Baker, disgraced. Boyfriend, vengeful. Salvation in the form of a new city; new friends; new love. It was everything I myself enjoyed, all wrapped in one sweet wrapper. But the writing process was more like chewing nails than licking frosting off a yummy cupcake. It always is for me. For something I’m so passionate about, setting tush in chair and sweating it out, letting it out, is remarkably difficult for me. Especially so when there’s no promise of publication at the end of the gnash-and-wail tunnel. But I did it, swearing all the while that if this one didn’t sell I was going to get serious about doing something else.
So then, at last, it was done. And my agent was very optimistic. So out the virtual door it went, zipping through the ether to a wide array of in-boxes across Manhattan. And then…
A big fat wad o’ nothing.
For months. Oh, we got in a few semi-prompt responses, but the majority took upward of SEVEN MONTHS to reply. Seven months of increasingly grey hair, Pepto Bismol guzzling, and chewed fingernails. More wailing and gnashing. But it was worth it. The perfect publisher for this project ended up taking it on. A new imprint of a venerable house, enthusiastic and responsive, and best of all, wanting to put the book out in less than a year! (It usually takes 18 months at a minimum.) Next thing I know, I’ve gone from slogging through swamps of anxiety-molasses to swirling and whirling like a Disney princess in the heady sensation of–YIPPIE!!!–being on top of the world. Skyping with my new editor. Seeing my new book cover. Creating this darn website. And knowing that in just four months, the culmination of twelve years of prayers, hopes and dreams will be hitting bookshelves. If sheer desire could have published this novel, it would have been on the Times bestseller list by now. As it is, I’m just glad I was so damn terrified of having a real job that I didn’t give up.
The publisher has been amazing. Just the other day, a padded envelope arrived at my door (okay, was flung–our UPS dude is a bit of a wannabe pitcher) with a little booklet inside. A guide for authors. Or, as I like to call it, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting… a Novel.”
I got such a thrill, and such a feeling of being, I don’t know… cared for. Backed. And excited to see what comes of this. So I just wanted to share this experience, this reminder that persistence pays. I gave BLISS everything I had, and now it’s time to find a new well of “everything” because I’ve got another bowling ball… er, excuse me, book to birth. So off I go, to the hot seat. Thanks for reading!