It's time for the last installment of my quest for a publishing contract. Of course, in the future I'll be continuing with updates about my life as a contracted debut author! But for now, I should probably narrate that episode every writer knows as "the Call."
I sent the manuscript of my second novel to my agent in the early fall.
If you've never had the experience of submitting a new manuscript to your agent BEFORE you have a contract with a publishing house, let me tell you, that suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I had pushed myself very hard, prayed a lot, and done the absolute best I could. I thought I had created something good. I hoped it had the power to touch people. But my agent was the first professional who would give me her opinion. I have great confidence in my agent's judgment, so whatever she said would matter. A lot.
When she emailed me to tell me she loved it, I was overwhelmed with relief and happiness.
Next came the submission.
My dear writer friends, when this happens to you for the first time (if it hasn't already), you will be SO excited after your work goes out to publishers. You will check your email fifty times a day, even though you know that it may take a while to get any responses. After two weeks of checking your email fifty times a day, you will be completely exhausted.
Unless you're a lot cooler than I am. :-)
We received our first full manuscript request about a month after the novel proposal went out. Various other interesting things happened too, with other publishers, but for discretion's sake, I'll keep those under my hat.
So, a couple of months after that first full manuscript request, we (and I keep saying 'we' because my agent Rachelle is my partner in this submissions process) we received word that the novel was going before the full committee at one publishing house. A publishing house I really liked, with the initials TN.
Another wait began. The holidays passed.
Then, I saw a Twitter post from Rachelle announcing mysteriously that she had received two pieces of great news, but she wasn't allowed to discuss them yet.
Oh, how I hoped that was my good news!
But the day passed and my phone didn't ring. That night, I got into bed thinking in my best Eeyore voice: "I guess that wasn't my good news."
The next day at noon, as I was taking care of my daily tasks, with my Eeyore voice mostly pushed into the background, my cell phone rang. The caller ID said "Rachelle Gardner."
When a moment like that comes, after months of waiting and years of work, a dreamlike feeling sets in.
I picked up the phone. I listened to her tell me that we had an offer from Thomas Nelson, my dream publisher. I said several times: "Thank you so much. I just can't believe it." Or something along those lines. She ran a few things by me about the deal. I asked her to repeat one detail because my ears were not properly passing along information to my brain.
And then, after her very nice congratulations and mutual cheers, we hung up.
And I began to work to absorb the reality of what had just happened.
I still haven't completely absorbed it. Rachelle says it will seem real when I see the cover. I look forward to that day!
But here's what I know about Thomas Nelson. They choose good books. They pick good titles. They have some of the best editors in the business.
My novel is going to be in very good hands, and I am excited to see what the TN editorial staff suggests. I am blessed to be in this position. Some novelists may view their editorial suggestions with dread, but I'm anticipating mine with curiosity. What will they like? What will they want to change? Will they be OK with that character saying that rather shocking thing on page 205? :-)
OK, it's really not page 205. But you know what I mean.
Thanks for coming with me thus far. I'm looking forward to sharing the next steps with you, in real time.
P.S. Jody Hedlund had a good question about Thomas Nelson in the comments, so I'm posting a link here to a fantastic interview with Allen Arnold who is in charge of their fiction line.