I’ve been keeping a little secret. My agent, Elisabeth, sent my manuscript,
Unbounded The Last Will of Moira Leahy, to a hand-picked group of editors just over a week ago. I didn’t blog about it because this stuff is crazy making, and I didn’t want to think about it long enough to have to write a post. But it doesn’t work like that. You think about it. And you think about it. And you think about it with every tick of the clock. Would we get multiple nibbles, or rejections? Would the story that’s had my gut tied in knots for longer than I care to recall finally find a home? How long would the process likely take?
Well, things were quick and chaotic and, ultimately, wonderful. I am elated to report that the story has sold! But rather than listen to me whoop and holler, I thought you might be interested in learning a little more about the journey and prelude to the editor hunt.
This was my experience.
June 20th: Elisabeth Weed and I connected. I have an agent!
June 23rd: Sent a note to a fabulous author about a pre-publication blurb .
June 24th: Reviewed agency contract; approved The Last Will of Moira Leahy to be sent pre-revisions to foreign rights agent for assessment.
July 7th-10: Received revision notes from Elisabeth, discussed them over the phone, made decisions. I made a preliminary promise to have the tweaked ms back to her within two weeks. [Note: Prior to this, we’d talked about the best times to submit to editors. July and September are far preferable to August, when a lot of editors are on vacation. We’d pretty much decided to aim for September, to coincide with one of the established “restart” times of year, which I blogged about HERE.]
July 8th: Killed some darlings; kept my editorial knife sharp.
July 10th: Learned foreign rights agent recommended we sell only North American rights and let her market Unbounded overseas. Elisabeth wrote, “Let me know how the edits are going. I would love to send this out sooner and I think we can!” We were aiming for July.
July 14: Finished revisions, sent them back to Elisabeth. (Have I mentioned that I turn into Super Girl when on a deadline? I’m obviously a bit of a dreamy eyed slacker the rest of the time!)
July 16: Elisabeth, happy with the revisions, began brainstorming novels to compare to The Last Will of Moira Leahy in the cover letter. The foreign rights agent and my awesome CPs helped as well. In the end, we settled on this: “Part psychological suspense, part love story, Therese Walsh’s novel will appeal to readers of Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child and Jennifer Egan’s The Keep.”
July 17th: Emailed author who said she’d do the pre-pub blurb and told her we’re submitting ASAP, without the blurb. She was gracious about it–and probably relieved because her summer sounded as crazy as mine. I was grateful on more than one level when she wrote that she’d remain a willing blurber for after The Last Will of Moira Leahy found its editor…so positive, I was starting to believe it might happen.
July 17th, later: Elisabeth finalized the cover letter. We’ve talked about the significance of query letters at WU before — HERE and HERE. We’ve mentioned how your query can become a marketing tool for your agent and later for your publisher. I’m here to report that it’s true! My query became a chunk of the cover letter.
July 17th, even later: Elisabeth made phone calls to pitch The Last Will of Moira Leahy while I make a few final tweaks to the manuscript (accept track changes, etc…). I sent the polished ms to Elisabeth, and then she sent the story and its cover letter electronically to a fabulous selection of editors.
July 22: Elisabeth called to say we had a wonderful offer on the table from one of her top two picks for The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Just one sticking point: the house wanted world rights and Elisabeth and our foreign rights agent wanted us to keep them. Me, I like the taffy-pull feel of this moment. The publisher had to wait until the following day to confer with the foreign rights expert.
I did not sleep well.
July 23: Elisabeth called to share the official offer from Shaye Areheart Books, a division of Crown Publishing and Random House. Foreign rights were still up in the air, though. Later, another call: the offer now included a two-book deal. Elisabeth and I were elated, and agreed to sell off world rights. Adding to the feeling that this was absolutely RIGHT for us, I learned that my would-be editor grew up in Maine–one of the three central locales in The Last Will of Moira Leahy (the other two being Rome, Italy, and a town in upstate NY). We had ourselves a fabu deal and a long-term commitment with our ideal house.
July 28: The deal is announced on Publisher’s Marketplace (Kath here: here’s the LINK to PM….it’s on the front page of today’s — 7/30/08 — Dealmaker!), and I can finally share my news! Here’s the blurb:
Co-founder of www.writerunboxed.com Therese Walsh’s UNBOUNDED (since changed to THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY), about an accomplished professor of languages whose grief over the loss of her twin has isolated her from her friends and family; when she impulsively purchases a keris — a Javanese weapon imbued with legendary powers — she embarks on a journey from New York to Rome, following the mysterious provenance of the dagger, which will ultimately lead her to the truth about her sister’s tragic past, to Sarah Knight at Shaye Areheart Books…in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2009, by Elisabeth Weed at Weed Literary.
So, there it is! I’m so excited about this new leg of the journey–working with my editor to polish The Last Will of Moira Leahy in what I can finally think of as “enditing,” meeting her and my publisher and Elisabeth, promoting the book, and finally–finally–beginning something new.
I don’t think I can adequately describe how grateful I am, how overjoyed, or how lucky I feel. I told all my friends and family they could uncross fingers and various other body parts for me; we’d all been uncomfortable long enough.
The journey to publication can be hard. It was hard for me, and if you’re working to polish and find a home for a work you lovelovelove, it’s hard for you too. But, to borrow from a post I wrote about The Unpubbed Writer’s 7 Deadly Sins: You cannot quit. You cannot. Not as long as you believe in your story and feel its pulse beneath your fingers. You cannot quit as long as you feel the drive in your gut to tell the tale. Because it will eat away at you if you do–until you dust off your notes and your keyboard, and try, try again.
That’s what I did. And that’s how I found the perfect publisher.
Write on, all!
Photo courtesy Flickr’s fabu Lá caitlin