Monday, December 9, 2013

When your novel is on submission...

A long time ago, I promised to write about the submission process.  I put it off because I’ve been trying to work out exactly how to describe it.  This is the best I can come up with: it’s like the query process but on steroids.  All of the insecurity and terror you felt while querying agents about your novel is magnified 10, make that 100 fold. 
Here’s how it happened for me.  (Now keep in mind that every agent has their own process so everyone’s experiece is different.)  I turned in my last edits in July.  I figured I’d have another round of line edits before the novel went out on submission so I settled in to wait.  It had been a pretty long process so far, so I figured this part would be similar. 

But here’s the thing about publishing.  It’s slow, except when it isn’t.  One day, I opened up my email and found a note from my agent.  It went something like this.  Aside from a few minor issues, I think the novel is ready to submit.  If you have time to work on the changes tonight, I can submit it tomorrow afternoon. 
Gah!  I immediately emailed back that of course I could.  Once I got the notes back on the manuscript, I had about two hour’s worth of line changes to make.  I was expecting another overhaul so this was Good News.  I sent the completed manuscript off and the wait began.  (It was about 10 pm when I sent off the book, and yet I started obsessively checking email 15 minutes later.  I developed this neurosis during the querying process, and it came roaring back during the submission process.) 

Earlier in the rewrite process, Dan had me draft an Author Bio.  It was just over one page and covered my inspirations for the book.  I also had to include a picture.  That was really weird.  I tried to make it Professional.  As if I Knew What I Was Doing.  (It was a shot my husband took of me when we were on our way to see Wicked in San Francisco.  At least my hair was combed and there weren’t any children in the picture with me.)

Dan sent The Book, author bio, and an intro letter he composed to a long list of publishing houses.  I gulped when I saw the list.  These were big houses.  I felt like a deer in the headlights.  Real Editors were reading my book!  I wanted to dive into bed and pull the covers over my head. 

The novel went out on a Thursday and I got my first rejection that Sunday morning.  I won’t lie.  It hurt.  Much more than rejections during the querying process.  This was followed by more rejections.  Those hurt too.  But here’s the thing, the rejections were nice.  Some editors didn’t offer because they had just signed an author with a similar book.  Some liked the book and the writing but didn’t fall in love with it.  Everyone was complimentary.  Most of the editors wished me luck.  They were Very Nice People.  But it still hurt. 
And then…Dan emailed me and told me that Chuck Adams from Algonquin was reading the book and that he liked it so far!  This was big.  Chuck was the editor who signed Water for Elephants.  I loved that book and others on his list.  To think that he liked my book, well it was surreal. 

The email checking amped up as I waited for updates from Dan.  And then, there it was.  Chuck wanted to talk to me on the phone.  I agreed immediately.  The phone call was scheduled and Chuck was so wonderfully down to earth.  So…normal.  (Dear Ones, if I have learned one thing from this journey—aside from the glacial pace at which publishing moves—it’s this: Book People are Good People.)  We had a wonderful conversation.  He had great thoughts about the book (yes, there will be more edits.)  He told me a bit about his process.  He was very direct, which I appreciated.  I hung up feeling that we would work well together.  I updated Dan and crossed my fingers. 

The offer came the next day.  I want to say that fireworks went off and the world stopped spinning, but the truth is I was driving back from the grocery store when Dan called.  I’m sure I sounded like an idiot on the phone.  When he asked if I wanted to accept the offer I think I blurted out, “Of course!!” 
From submission to offer was approximately three weeks.  After that, it was all back and forth between Writer’s House and Algonquin, hammering out the contract details.  After it sold, the foreign sales started.  The book sold first to Italy, then Germany, Holland, and Norway. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The newest Knippers!

I'm so excited that I can finally share pictures of our newest kiddos!  On the Friday before Thanksgiving, we finally received our official approval from China!  (For those not familiar with adoption lingo, it's called Seeking Confirmation.)  That means we should be traveling to China in roughly 10 weeks.  That's just an estimate, if you know anything about adoption, you know that 10 weeks could stretch into 15.  Or 20.  In this way, adoption is a lot like publishing.  (I keep telling myself I'm learning patience.  Right.  I don't believe it either.) 

Without further ado, allow me to introduce Gabrielle:

Look at that face!  I can't wait to kiss those cheeks!

And Jonathan:

Isn't he a cutie? We have a video of him zooming around in his chair, and let me tell you, it doesn't slow him down one bit!

Gabrielle is three and a half, and Jonathan will be seven in three weeks.  We've never adopted two at the same time so it will be interesting, but after adopting a teenager who didn't speak English and Grace with all of her issues, two at once feels like a walk in the park.

Now that the end is in sight, I'm rushing around like crazy trying to get the house together, because as usual we left the house preparations until the last minute.  We're swapping bedrooms around -- all three boys will be sharing a room (I'm trying to pretend that's a good idea.  Please don't disabuse me of that notion!)  Painting walls.  Cleaning out closets.  Going through the stockpile of toys we have in the basement to see what we can use again. (As you'll notice, I haven't even mentioned Christmas.  That's because I'm trying to pretend it's not looming around the corner.)

It's crazy, but it's a good kind of crazy.  The kind where you can't tell whether your heart is pounding for joy or panic.  A little of both I suspect!  ;-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Foreign Rights

Yay!  I'm happy to announce that the foreign rights for Antoinette Martin have been sold in Italy, Germany, Holland, and Norway.  So now, not only will I have U.S. readers, but readers in other countries as well.  It's weird in an I Think I'll Go Hide My Head Under a Pillow Now.  *Grin*

Seriously, it is a bit surreal to open up your email and find that the rights have sold in another country because, I mean, let's face it.  I'm a mom in Kentucky.  Most of my days are filled with homework and diaper changes (true, the diaper changes are for my 9 year old--which is a bit different, but it's still Mom Stuff.)  So when I get something that tells me people in other countries are reading my work, and not just reading it, but wanting to pay me for it, my first thought is, Huh?  Are you sure you have the right person?

Because here's the thing about being a writer.  Your life doesn't change that much after getting a book deal.  My kids don't care that I Have Books to Write.  They want to eat.  Now.  They need to go to strings lessons, and acting lessons, and work.  Mom wrote a book? Cool.  Now, let's get on with life. 

The biggest change is that now I have to write Book Two.  This Freaked Me Out at first.  You mean I have to do it again? I thought.  Maybe I only have one book in me.  Maybe I'm like Lipps, Inc. and Antoinette Martin is my Funkytown. 

I now understand why George R.R. Martin takes so long to write one of his mammoth books.  It's seriously hard, people! (Side bar--I'm listening to his series on Audible, and Mr. Martin is my new hero.  Good grief the man is hard on his characters!  As a writer, I bow before his talent.  As a reader, I'm begging him--please stop killing off my favorite characters!)  Finishing a book is like finishing a marathon.  Except that the next day, you have to get up and start running (or writing) again. 

Luckily, I'm now well in to Book Two.  No, it's not a continuation of the first book.  It's all new.  And that is its own joy and heartache.  I'm having fun with it though.  Mostly, because I've transitioned from the worry of Can I do this again? to I can do this again.  I'm not sure when it happened.  Probably sometime between walking the kids up to the bus stop and washing the breakfast dishes.  But that's the thing about having kids.  They don't give you much time for anything else!