This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Kate Manning is a former documentary television producer (and winner of two Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award), who has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Glamour and More. Her latest book, My Notorious Life, is out today. Kate has popped over to tell us about her book deal moment.
What makes the book deal moment one of such interest? The pre-book-deal-moment, for starters. This is actually a moment the length of the Pleistocene era, for me, an epoch of epic doubt, with breaks for self-flagellation.
– Worthless ort! You quivering heap of protoplasmic jelly! Get to work!
The book deal moment makes all that work worthwhile. But, writing my second novel, I was naively unaware that publishing also included a time known as the Between-Book-Deals-Moment, this one, for me, Paleozoic.
Why did My Notorious Life take years? Because of research. I was inventing the 19th century misadventures of the novel’s protagonist, a New York street urchin named Axie Muldoon, the daughter of Irish immigrants, who grows up to become an infamous midwife. The biggest challenge was turning a true story into a novel. My Notorious Life is loosely based on the life of an Englishwoman named Ann Trow, born in 1811 in Gloucestershire, who came to be known as “the Wickedest Woman in New York.”Axie, too, would earn that label, but would not stand for it.
The writing was tricky, arduous, exhilarating. I gave up often. Restarted often. Finished at last, I sent the book to a wonderful literary agent, Sarah Burnes, fearing she would kindly pat my hand and say: “Nice try.”
She did not? Hemming my newborn hopes with the dark lace of certain rejection, I waited to see what would happen. Just after the Christmas holidays, 2012, Agent Burnes sent the manuscript out, to editors on both sides of the Atlantic, with the collusion of Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein. About a week into awaiting my fate, I found myself standing in line at New York’s Centre Street courthouse, about to be called for jury duty.
It was a text from Sarah Burnes: We have meetings with editors set up for tomorrow, and one the day after that. Can you get out of that line? I did.
The next day was my birthday. Better than cake, there was an offer for My Notorious Life. Then there was a pre-emptive offer. Then there were more offers. The day was a psychedelic head-spin of possible book deal moments, texts and emails like birthday confetti.
One in particular, from Bloomsbury editor Helen Garnons-Williams, arrived from London while I stood in the lobby of a New York publishing house. Sarah read it aloud off her phone: “We are all just absolutely potty on this side of the pond, over Axie Muldoon,” said the email.
It slayed me, the delightful voice of it. We aren’t “potty” over things, here in New York, unless we are two years old. We are “nuts”. We are “bonkers”. So from the first, I developed a crush on Helen Garnons-Williams and Bloomsbury, just because of that sentence. As a longtime Anglophile, (raised on The Box of Delights, by John Masefield), I was smitten, and further charmed by the marketing proposal – illustrated! – that Helen sent along, with mentions of honeymoon-sounding visits to the Hay Festival, and the Dublin Writers Festival. To me Bloomsbury’s offer appeared like a wonderland romp through Narnia, Hogwarts, and the Shire, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life there, in that book-deal moment – a moment charged with that quasi-Disney feel of a Happy Ending.
Reader, I married Bloomsbury.