Sunday, February 6, 2011

Journey to a Book Deal

So it's been about a week since I found out about my book deal... and yeah, those three words together--'my book deal'--still sound a little bananas. I've spent the week walking around in daze, giddily connecting with other writer's whose books debut in 2012 too (also known as The Apocalypsies), completely blowing off reading for my grad school classes, and using far too many exclamation points in every email/post/tweet. I've been thinking about how I got here, and wanted to put it on paper (like the way moms always want to tell thier gory birth stories after they pop out a kid):

I got my agent the old fashioned way: hard work, querying, rejection, more hard work, more querying, more rejection, you get the picture :) Glitch is the third book I’ve written all the way through and queried, and each manuscript along the way was a necessary (if grueling) step on the path to becoming a better writer. The first one was bad, but it taught me plotting. The second one was a little less bad and I’d gotten better at dialogue and keeping tension up during scenes, but agents rejecting it said it didn’t have a strong enough or unique voice. And the third one, I finally figured out what the hell they meant by voice. Which is actually one of the most important things to figure out (though some people, and yes I am insanely jealous of them, come by it naturally). Best definition I’ve found for what ‘voice’ is: Steven Malk’s Interview on Literary Rambles. To sum up: figure out who’s telling your story and make their personality come through in the way you tell it.

I’d been thinking through Glitch all of the Spring semester (I can’t seem to use academic brain and creative writing brain at the same time!), but wrote it mainly in July 2010. I started querying agents in August, got more requests for manuscripts than ever before, and in September, Charlie Olsen emailed saying he wanted to set up a call with me. He said he liked it, but wanted me to do some edits before he’d take me on as a client. I dug in, and in October, he offered representation! Then we did more edits, and decided to wait for the new year before submitting. And voila, started submitting in January and last week got the offer from St. Martin’s Press. I don’t know if that’s whirlwind or if it just feels like it to me, like it’s too ridiculously wonderful a dream to be true, but here we are. I’m sure more deep edits are headed my way, but I love getting to dig into the story again like wet clay. Or maybe kneading bread is a better analogy. That’s the picture in my head when it comes to edits: knuckles in, muscles working, to shape a dull lump into something glossy and magical shining.

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