This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
She sent the manuscript of my debut novel The Distance to publishers just over a week ago. She’s had expressions of interest already, but as she pointed out, that might not mean anything, so I shouldn’t get too excited. But as I lie there with my cheek pressed to the carpet Judith tells me we’ve had an offer.
We’ve had an offer. So I’m going to be published, am I?
Quite simply, this can’t be true.
Moment #2: Several days later – fortunately the room is now more stable, though my cold’s still streaming – Judith rings again.
Four more publishers have now put in offers. FOUR. We have a five-way auction on our hands. I have no idea how any of this works. I ask her, ‘Would it be okay for me to meet them?’
Thinking: they will change their minds.Moment #3: I’m standing outside the Orion offices in London, on my third and final day of meetings. I still have a heavy cold and am mainlining Lemsip, though I’ve worked out how to get through an hour-long meeting without sneezing over everyone. I’ve met four editors now, and they’re all brilliant, and so far none of them have dropped out, but I figure that’s all about to change. According to Judith the man I’m about to meet, Orion deputy publishing director Bill Massey, has already been quite critical of the manuscript. I myself feel that it needs serious work, but that’s not the key issue here. The fact is, this guy’s clearly about to bail. This meeting’s probably a waste of time, and as it is I’m shattered, and I’ve just thrown coffee down my coat – but Judith is with me. If I dry up, she’ll do the talking.
Moment #4 (twenty minutes later): He gets it. Bill Massey completely gets it. He understands exactly what I was trying to do. Admittedly he’s pulling my work to pieces, but he’s homed in on all the things that were bothering me, and he’s sure I can fix them. A printout of the book is sitting on his table. I want to grab it and start work on it RIGHT NOW.
I still think he’s going to bail.
As it turns out, he doesn’t.
Moment #5: Several weeks later, and I’m standing in the bar of the British Film Institute, for a scheduled quarterly catch-up with my writing buddy Lesley. Since early 2009 we’ve been phoning each other at 2 pm every Friday, and meeting every few months here in London, to discuss our writing progress – talking out the practical problems, supporting each other through the ups and downs. In twenty minutes she’ll be here for our first meeting since I got my UK deal, and deals in Germany, the US and Canada too … I’m standing, waiting while the barista makes my coffee, when I look in the bar’s mirror and it suddenly hits me and this time I believe it, and for just a second I think I might cry.
And that’s my book deal moment.
The Distance by Helen Giltrow is out now.