The Short Version
I've sold two books to Allen & Unwin, as part of their new Arena imprint.
The Longer Version
Remember the phonecall?
It was not, as my earlier post implied, from my then-prospective agent. It was in actual fact from my then-prospective editor.
I had previously queried a handful of agents, mostly in the US but also in Aus. However, as I have long suspected, my blurbing skills could use some work. There were nibbles, but no bites. So, quite literally just for a change of pace, I looked into submitting to publishing houses direct.
That market is pretty slim, as most everyone who's ever finished a novel will know. There was a change on the scene since I'd last researched, however: Allen & Unwin had instituted the Friday Pitch.
Well, thought I. A one week rejection beats the nine to twelve months I'd be waiting at every other publishing house. (As you can see, the submission mills had made me a touch blasé.)
I received my first response within two minutes: an "out of office" reply. I spent a grand total of thirty seconds wondering if that meant the manuscript would never be read, then dismissed the matter. I've found completely forgetting submissions the best way of dealing with them, you see.
Six days later it's Thursday, and I arrive home to an email from A&U. Panic! However, it was simply a request for another week; holidays had wreaked havoc on the Friday Pitch reading time. Meh, thought I. Even a two week rejection beats nine to twelve months.
One week later, there's an email in my inbox requesting the full. I emailed it promptly (cleverly refraining from yammering, and probably managing to seem terse instead), and went back to forgetfulness. It was a touch trickier than normal, but not unattainable.
Then comes the phonecall.1
Louise had read a quarter of the manuscript, and wanted to check I hadn't sold it to anyone else in the preceding week. She made encouraging noises2 about making an offer on the book, provided the ending didn't go to hell in a handbasket and completely ruin what she'd read so far.
At this point, any ability to practise forgetfulness completely deserted me. The waiting proved … difficult.
Two days later, Louise called again, ten pages from the end, certain she wanted to make an offer. She would speak to her colleagues, do what needed doing, and be in touch. In the meantime, if I wanted an agent, now would perhaps be a good time to find one.
Armed with advice from both Louise and some very helpful friends who kindly pretended that my nervous panicky wibbling was entirely natural behaviour 😉 I contacted Curtis Brown. Then I had to wait through the weekend, while my agent read the manuscript and decided whether she wanted to be my agent or not.3
I signed with Curtis Brown a couple of days later, and ever since then it's been only the lack of official paperwork keeping me from yelling my good news to the world.
Now I've signed, though, so I guess it really is all going ahead and not some dreadful trick after all.4
So, don't mind me, I'll be over here in the corner, jibbering with glee
- The day before my birthday, no less. Best birthday evah. [↩]
- Actually, she probably used words, in proper cogent sentences and all. In truth, it was me making noises at this point. They weren't encouraging noises. Louise probably thought I was drowning, or at least choking in some fashion. [↩]
- I am not complaining. A single weekend? It was amazingly considerate of her to read the manuscript on her days off. She could by rights have asked me to wait quite a whole lot longer than a weekend. [↩]
- Writers is nuts. And superstitious nuts at that. It's officially written down somewhere, I'm sure. [↩]