Thursday, 26 July 2012

A Year Ago Today…


…I was waiting on a piece of news which is simultaneously the most exciting and most terrifying thing an agented but unpublished writer can hear.

My book, which had been submitted to Random House Children's Books a couple of months before, was going to aquisitions.

The acquisitions meeting is where The Decision is made about your book. The decision about whether a publisher is actually going to make an offer for it. Even when the commissioning editors and other teams have fallen in love with your novel, it still has to get over this final hurdle. Of course, I was thrilled to have gotten this far – especially as my previous novel hadn't sold – but it was torture, too. Because the thought that my novel could get so close and yet there was still every chance it might be rejected… well, that wasn't the easiest place to be in.

Even worse, at that point, hardly anyone knew I was a writer – let alone a writer with an agent and a book out on submission that was about to go to acquisitions at a major publisher. So I had to go to work that day and pretend everything was normal, even though inside, I was just about ready to explode. I had to smile at people and make conversation when all I wanted to do was to stare at my computer screen, finger hovering over the refresh button on my email inbox.

Not that I wanted any emails. 'If you hear from me today, it's bad news,' my agent had told me. 'If you don't, it's good.' As soon as I finished work, I rushed home, fired up the laptop and logged on. Nothing. I checked again ten minutes later. Nothing. I choked down dinner. Nothing. Saw hubby off to teach his art class. Nothing. Tried to write a bit more of my new novel. Nothing.

And although I'd told myself I wouldn't get too optimistic – that there was still plenty of time for my agent to email me – I began to feel the first glimmerings of hope. Of what if they said yes?

And then, at about quarter past seven, I checked my email one last time, and saw a message from my agent sitting in my inbox.

My heart sank. At arm's length, I opened the email, the same mantra running through my head that I always repeated to myself when I got a rejection: It doesn't matter. Perhaps the next publisher will say yes. Or perhaps it'll be the next book that sells. You'll only fail if you stop writing. And all the while, disappointment sat heavy inside me. My book had got this far, and they still didn't want it.

But it wasn't a rejection. It was a forwarded email from the commissioning editor. The response to my book at the meeting had been positive. They were going to make an offer.

My book was going to get published.

Okay, I admit it, I cried. I may even have screamed and scared The Hound. And I know I re-read that email about a hundred times, not quite daring to believe it was real. But it was. And it was still there the next day. And the next. This was actually happening.

Now, with all the edits and copyedits on ACID done, and the manuscript waiting to go to the typesetter, I can hardly believe that just one year ago, I had no idea if my dream of publication was still books and years away from coming true. That can be the worst thing about trying to get published, I think – the waiting, the not-knowing, the knock-backs which drain your confidence no matter how much you try not to let them.

But if ACID hadn't sold? I'd still be writing, without a doubt. Because you never know when everything's going to change. And a year ago today, that was what happened to me.

42 comments:

  1. Emma, I love posts like this! It's good to look back and see how far we've come!! We are very, very fortunate.

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    1. Thanks, Elsie. We really are. And I can't believe it's been a year already!

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  2. Oh joy - another date for you to celebrate every year. And what a celebration you can have - a great moment to raise a glass to.

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    1. Thank you, Jo! Great to have yet another official excuse to raise a glass (or two). ;)

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  3. I'm impressed you can remember the exact day. Wow. It does seem like an endless process when it's all going on; everything crawling towards the day when they say YES! Well done and I can't wait to read ACID. It had better be good otherwise I'll be sending the boys round . . . no pressure;-)

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    1. Thank you, Dan! And, err, yes, of course it'll be good. No need to send anyone round… *nervously checks locks*

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  4. Such a great post - brightened up my day, Emma! Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Zoe! Hope you're feeling better.

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  5. Inspirational and encouraging indeed, especially for people like me who are at the agented but unpublished stage like you were. I bet the great feeling inside when they said 'yes' is something you'll never forget :-)

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    1. Thanks, Joe. And no, I definitely won't forget it! I still get a shiver thinking about it now! :D

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  6. I love this post, it really is so inspirational. Looking forward to getting to read ACID :)

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    1. Thank you, Essjay! I hope you'll like it. :)

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  7. It's reading your post that keeps me believing that it's worth carrying on writing my novel Emma. Thank you for sharing your wonderful moment of acceptance. May you have many, many more!

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    1. Thank you, Carolyn. Yes - you have to keep going! Persistence can get you a long way (believe me, I know!). Good luck!

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  8. I love this post! Your excitement just bounces off the screen as you read this. I'm so thrilled for you Emma. Keep hold of that feeling.

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    1. Thank you, Rebecca. I definitely will. :)

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  9. What a wonderful anniversary to celebrate! And thank you for the inspirational post, too!

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    1. Thank you, Julia! And you're welcome. :)

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  10. How lovely! happy anniversary! what an exciting day.

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  11. What a journey! I would have screamed too. :)

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  12. I love a post like this! My crit partner unfortunately just got pulled from submission for the 2nd time. She keeps going to acquisitions and getting to a "We love her writing/premise/style/characters but...." with every pub house. She's in such despair that reading this - for me - let me know that she can and WILL make it.

    Right now I think if I got an agent (ever) I'd scream. And then cry about the book deal. lol

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. That must be SO hard - I really feel for her. If it's any comfort (and I know it probably isn't when she's just been rejected at the acquisitions stage, because it wasn't for me!), if she's getting that far, it's not that her writing's not good enough to get published, but that it doesn't fit the market right at that moment - which is *completely* beyond her control. I really hope her luck changes soon. Very best of luck to you with your agent search too!

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  13. Awww, YAY FOR YOU, FRIEND!!!! At this time last year, I was three days from getting signed by my agent. It's insane how quickly things can change. :) I love this post, and I love that you're on this journey with me! :) :) :)

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    1. Aww, thank you, Alison!! How COOL that you were about to be signed by your agent! It's *completely* insane, isn't it? And I love that you're on this journey with me too! :) :) :) *Luckies fist bump*

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  14. WHat a great story! I am so pleased your dream came true and maybe, just maybe if I work as hard as you have I might get my dream come true too.
    Well done and congratulations again xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Nettie. I really hope your dream comes true - will keep fingers and toes crossed! xxx

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  15. So wonderful, Emma. It is amazing how much can change in a year. For instance: we didn't know each other a year ago! How is that possible? xx

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    1. Thank you, Brandy! And I KNOW! So glad to have met you and the other Luckies, it's wonderful that we're all in this together! xx

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  16. What an inspiring post. And I'm a fellow hound-lover :) Great author photo!

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    1. Thank you, Mara! Do you have a greyhound too? :)

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  17. Posts like this are fab - not long to go now :D

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    1. Thank you, Jesse! And I know… eep! :D

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  18. Aw! Happy Anniversary Em! Blimey, that year has zoooomed! ;)

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  19. Thank you, Abi! It really has! :)

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  20. What a great story! I'm stopping by from Rachel's blog! *new follower* too! Looking forward to your book's release!

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    1. Thank you, Kimberly, and thanks for your lovely comment on Rachel's blog too. Following you now as well! :)

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