How I got published Part III:
September 11th 2001 was the day I received an e mail from my agent saying she had 2 publishers left to try and that if they said no, then that would be it. The terrible tragedy of that day overshadowed my private gloom. I went and sat in my American friend Debbie's kitchen while she baked stacks of very large chocolate chip cookies.
In a follow-up phone call, something about photocopying, my agent said I shouldn't be too disappointed as many authors don't get their first book published. The only good thing about that was the fact that she'd called me an author. The first time anyone ever had. I worried about the photocopying bill. I had to pay for that. If I got the final rejections all I'd have to show for it would be a bloody bill from Frank Xerox.
Two months later my agent called to say she'd had an offer. The deal was for 2 books to be published a year apart; the only problem was the first wouldn't be published for l8 months as they wanted it for a spring tie-in promotion. She said this as if I might consider refusing the offer. I liked the sound of tie-in promotion very much. She told me what a lovely small friendly publisher they were and how they'd launched one famous contemporary women's fiction author very well and, although she'd never worked with them, she thought they'd do well for me.
I put the phone down and did all the yippee stuff and waited to be called in to meet my new editor. This was another well-rehearsed fantasy moment. I imagined going into the West End with my agent. She'd introduce me and the editor would shake my hand warmly and ask me to sit down. She'd then tell me how much she loved my book and welcome me into the bosom of her publishing house. She'd explain their marketing plan, perhaps I'd have to attend a marketing conference to meet the sales reps. Perhaps there'd be a little goodie bag for me to take home with me, with a mini-bottle of champagne and some of their titles.
Four months. Not a peek, not a phone call, nothing. I sent my agent a couple of reminders. Nothing. Supposing they were stalling? I was seriously worried. I had told everyone I'd got a deal, but I had no contract and there was no sign of the editor wishing to meet up. The contract finally arrived in March and I really began to think it would be happening. I turned to the next chapter in Carole Blake's From Pitch to Publication - contracts. All the precentages stuff meant little to me, I had a good agent, so I signed the contract and off it went. And that was it. I didn't hear anything again for ages. I got used to being a published author who hadn't been published yet. In fact it was quite good. No-one had read my book, and so they had no idea what it was like, but I could still brag at parties to anyone who'd listen that I had a publisher, a real publisher who was going to publish ME.
I kept track of the publisher's activities on Google. A piece in The Bookseller came out with them talking about their coming year's offerings. I read it all eyes, searching for my modest debut appearance. My heart leapt as I got to the bit where they talked of their high hopes for a talented new women's fiction author they were launching in the spring. I thought it might be me but it wasn't.
I finally met my editor at their Christmas party, three months before publication. She was really nice, a little nervy but not at all scary, which was a relief. I had a brilliant time, got drunk and met loads of authors.
Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.