As an aspiring author, I often devoured stories of other writers who were successful in finding an agent and selling a manuscript to a publisher. It feels very surreal to be writing my own story now!
If you’re new here and want to read the full scope of my journey, please feel free to visit my posts on My Journey To Pitch Wars, My Pitch Wars Experience, and How I Got My Agent. I wouldn’t be where I am without Pitch Wars or without finding my agent match.
This post will focus on what happened after I signed with Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn, Ltd, leading up to my book deal, as well as what life is like after accepting the offer.
Here We Go…
The days after accepting an offer of representation are filled with many a Big Feeling. Querying often seems like a never ending struggle, trying to match this thing you’ve poured your heart and soul into with an agent who will love it and be its advocate (and yours!) for the long haul.
In my case, there were many, many smiles, as well as excitement, relief, and some exhaustion thrown in. I had achieved a major goal and wanted to embrace the moment. But signing with Chloe meant that my even bigger goal of being traditionally published was just one step away. The stakes felt even higher now.
Querying had prepared me to have realistic expectations about the submission process. Patience is a tremendous asset in publishing, and I had devoured as many stories as I could online about what submission had been like for other authors. I read stories of people whose books got snatched up in an instant, and others who found their publisher after months (or years!) on sub. I also read stories about people who had books that didn’t sell, and who went on in hope and perseverance to write the next thing.
I tried to brace myself for whatever my own future might hold, but I spent the lead up to submission acutely aware that my life could change in an instant. And I let myself hope, a bit, that it might just happen for me. I believed in my story. I believed in my agent. I had worked tremendously hard to get to this point, so while I knew the possible outcomes, I had to let myself have that hope as well.
After completing some relatively minor edits with Chloe, she got to work contacting editors and preparing them for my manuscript. We went out on submission officially on a Thursday in May.
On Monday, we had an email from an editor who had read REVERIE over the weekend and loved it. I was watching my kids play in the back yard when I got Chloe’s email, and the world slowed down as I took in the editor’s enthusiastic words.
This could be it, I thought. But I knew getting an offer from a publisher often took time and multiple people to sign off. I braced myself for more waiting and tried (very poorly) to manage my expectations. Even if this wasn’t it, I had caught the eye and the heart of someone in the publishing industry who could turn my manuscript into a real book. It felt like a big moment. And it was.
On Tuesday, Chloe emailed to let me know that the editor had requested a phone call later in the day. She prepared me that we might be looking at a preempt, just in case. For those new to the term, a preempt is when a publisher makes a strong offer to an author in hopes that the author will take the manuscript off the table to anyone else considering it. Typically a decision to accept a preempt needs to be made within about a day. For the publisher, it avoids the risk of a manuscript going to auction and competing with other editors for the project. For the author, it’s typically a very strong offer that is enticing enough for them to accept as well.
Sure enough, Chloe came back later letting me know that Liza Kaplan at Philomel wanted to preempt REVERIE! By the end of the day we had details of the offer, as well as a lovely email from Liza detailing what she loved about my story as well as why she felt Philomel was the right fit to publish my book.
Cue the most surreal moment of my entire life. There I was, sitting outside again watching my kids play and reading the email that meant my dreams were coming true.
Chloe stayed up super late to chat with me about it (she’s based in London), and we both felt really good about the offer. By lunchtime the next day, we had accepted the preempt and I was officially going to be published.
It’s really hard to wrap your head around something so big. A moment when a boatload of wishes and a ton of hard work collide. Now, a few months later, it still takes me by surprise.
Right now we’re in the midst of edits, and I’m dreaming up and plotting what will become my second book, to be released a year after my first. The time between selling a book and the publication date seems far away in some ways, but, paradoxically, so much has to happen in the next year that it seems very close as well.
My debut novel, REVERIE, will be released in fall of 2020. I am so, so thankful and can’t wait for what’s to come.