So, at long last, I got to sign one of these:
A publishing contract.
It took a while to reach my hot little hands and as soon as I’d signed it, I had to return it to the publisher for counter-signing, so I haven’t been able to gaze at it and behold its beauty, or take it to bed with me and hug it all night.
How it Happened
A while ago, I wrote about signing with my agent. About six weeks later, she rang to say the publisher at Allen and Unwin, Annette Barlow, liked my book and wanted to take it to an acquisitions meeting. For those who don’t know—which, until recently, included me—acquisitions meetings are when editors, sales and marketing personnel, and the board of the publishing house meet and discuss the merits or otherwise of accepting a new book.
My heart skipped a beat or twenty at my agent’s news but I didn’t want to get my hopes up as I know a few writers whose novels have made it to acquisitions only to be rejected.
While my heart was thumping, she asked if I’d had any ideas for Novel #2. I wracked my buzzing brain for one of the crazy, half-formed ideas that periodically flit in and out of my mind. I remembered one, which I told my agent, prefacing my pitch with the words, ‘This might sound really silly …’. When I’d finished, she said, ‘I love it!’. As soon as I put down the phone, I started on Novel #2*.
A few days after that phone call, my agent rang again: Allen and Unwin wanted to publish my book. She kept talking, telling me percentages and details, but none of it registered because my brain could only think one thing:
My book is going to be published!
I wanted to get off the phone and find a quiet corner and sit with this news, just me and the news, on our own. It was the most exquisite moment of my life. I’ve had a few special moments—when my husband proposed, graduating, giving birth—but this surpassed all of those. I think because it had taken so long, and I’d worked so hard, and it was so personal. I felt overwhelmed.
When I began an online Beginners’ Writing Workshop in 2010, I didn’t allow myself to think about being published one day. As soon as the course ended, I enrolled in another one, and by the time I’d finished that, I knew I wanted to write a novel.
I knew I knew nothing, but I had no idea how much I didn’t know. I knew writing a novel would be hard, but I had no idea how hard. I knew I’d have to give of myself, but I had no idea how deep I’d have to reach, and how vulnerable that would make me feel.
In those early days, there were times when I read my words and cringed. There were times when I read others’ words and despaired at the disparity between their prose and mine. There were times when I wondered if I’d gone completely mad by pursuing this weird and wonderful pipe dream.
But I stuck with it. I decided to give myself time to learn and to let go of worrying about how long it took. To let myself practice and make mistakes. To not feel embarrassed if I misused a word, or missed some punctuation, or wrote something clunky, or if my words didn’t paint the picture I had in my mind. So what if I made a mistake? Isn’t that what learners do? I thought of myself in the way I think of my kids when they’re learning, and I tried to be as patient with myself as I was with them.
And I patted myself on the back for having the courage to wear ‘L’ plates again.
I’ve already thanked a lot of people in the post I wrote when I signed with my agent, and I thank all of them again: Rosemary Stevens, Iris Lavell, Emily Paull, Kristen Levitzke, Glen Hunting, Carol Major, Varuna and the Eleanor Dark Foundation, Jennifer Kremmer, Michelle Johnston, Jacquie Garton-Smith, Fremantle Press and the Hungerford judges, Marlish Glorie, Lily Malone, and Monique Mulligan.
I want to add to that list and thank my agent because without her my novel wouldn’t be anywhere near publication standard. She read my manuscript and spotted the flaws in it—one of my main characters was rather two-dimensional and my storyline was too depressing. She spent a long time on the phone talking to me about it, and then sent me a three-page summary and my annotated manuscript.
She did all of this without charge and without a contract. I could have taken her advice, rewritten my manuscript and sent it elsewhere. But I was so grateful for her help, I sent it back as soon as I’d finished, and from there, everything has fallen into place.
I also want to thank Caroline Woods at Margaret River Press. Caroline and her husband, John, are staunch supporters of the writing community here in WA. Last year, they generously allowed me to take a mini-writing retreat at their studio in Margaret River, where I was able to sink my teeth into the final stages of the rewrite without the distraction of family and internet, and all the other intrusions of home.
A&U want to change the title of my book. I must admit, I felt a pang of disappointment when I first heard—How could they rename my baby? I couldn’t imagine it being called anything else. But, within an hour, I’d already forgotten the old title. (It had something to do with Ida and children, I believe …)
It’s currently called, ‘Whatever My Book Will Be Titled’ or ‘WMBWBT’ for short. (Thanks, Amanda!)
I have no idea, but I’m sure it will be exciting and I’ll keep you posted all the way!**
It’s amazing where life takes you when you listen to your heart. It’s scary to leap into the unknown, but wonderful, too. And there’s nothing so rewarding.
Thanks for staying with me on this wonderful ride!
*It’s progressing very slowly. In fact, I almost abandoned it. Actually, I did abandon it, and started another one, but while I was working on Novel #2.1, my interest in Novel #2.0 reignited, so I’m back at it, working on both. Slowly, slowly …
**Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter so you can keep up with the latest!
Thank you! You helped me get there. 🙂
It really is lovely to read about your success story Louise… congratulations!
Thank you, Leanda! I haven’t stopped celebrating yet. 😉
Congratulations! That’s so awesome. And really interesting to hear how the process works, thanks for sharing!
Thank you! I’m learning the process as I go along! 😉
Lovely to read good news – thanks for the share and congratulations again, Louise.
Thank you, Frances! And thanks for sharing! 🙂
Your reblog button wasn’t available so I didn’t share on here…
I’ve tried to reblog things, too, and I can’t. I think you have to be with WordPress.com and I go through WordPress.org.
Yes, I am with WordPress and usually, you have the ‘reblog’ button available on your postings, but this time, it didn’t appear to me.
I think it’s to do with my blog being with WordPress.org, not .com. I don’t have a reblog button, I’m sorry. x
Yes it is! Thank you, Lisa. xx
So heartwarming Louise to hear your news. congratulations and thank you for sharing.
Thank you, D! I’m glad it’s warmed your heart, too. xx
Thrilled to bits for you Louise. It’s been a long haul of ups and downs I know but you’ve hung in there and deserve every bit of success. And A&U are a great publisher to have “won over”. I’ve enjoyed reading the story of your story to date, and look forward to following the next part of the process, including finding out WYBWBT!
Thanks, Sue! It has been a long time coming and with enough ups and downs to do me. I’m thrilled to be publishing with A&U, too, and can’t wait to discover the new title of WMBWBT!
Hi Louise there has been a book recently published with the name Ida in the title, was in last weekends paper I think. I shouted out to the morning air that they couldn’t have that name as it’s yours. Clearly they weren’t listening x
You can’t have shouted loud enough, Rae! The thing is, they’ll probably come up with something better. 🙂
Your beautiful soul shines even in your blog. I’m so looking forward to reading the book.
Thank you, Margaret! I can’t wait for you (and the world!) to be able to read it! 🙂
So very happy for you and looking forward to reading the book in its final incarnation. It was already sounding great at the Hungerford Awards.
Thanks, Iris! I’m looking forward to people being able to read it—I’ve been banging on about it for so many years! xx
I love all of this, Louise – what a journey you’ve been on! This post is a great reminder that it is our own journey, and each of us will reach our goals in our own way, so there’s no value in comparing ourselves to others. You’ve persevered and achieved something wonderful – congratulations!
You’re right, especially about comparison. I don’t know why we torture ourselves with it! It just makes you feel so inadequate. Thanks for commenting. xx
A joy to read the above ????
Thanks, Renata! x
I laughed at your comment about not remembering what your book was called. How absolutely, brilliantly exciting. I think I’ve been following you for most of your trials and tribulations over the last two years at least. I’m so happy for you Louise.
Did it have a title already, Michelle? I can’t remember one!
Yes, we’ve been following each other for at least two years now, maybe three, so you know most of my ups and downs. It’s a long road, this pathway to publication, and mine isn’t unusually protracted, so thanks for coming along with me, and for visiting today. xx
So excited for you. Well done, congratulations and can’t wait to read it!! X
Thank you, Nadia! I can’t wait until people can read it, too. You must be thrilled to have your book on shelves finally … x
Inspiring and awe-inspiring you are. My gosh! Your novel is going to set our brains on fire ???????????????????? I’m very glad you are not keeping this incredible journey to yourself, Louise. MX
My book might be banned if it sets people’s brains on fire! The main thing I hope for is that people are moved by it, and even better if it resonates with some, especially women. Thanks for visiting. xx
Such wonderful news, Louise! I’ve enjoyed watching this all come to fruition for you. Well done and congratulations!!! x
Thank you, Nicole! I know this is the most clichéd thing in the world to say, but it truly is my dream come true! Thanks for your support and good wishes. xx
Oh, Louise, I am so excited for you. I relate well to your feelings as I felt the same when I submitted my first short story and found out it was accepted. No one can describe the emotions. Congratulations — you have worked hard for your success. I hope it turns into a best seller and I can then say I knew her in her first writing course — what a thrill.
Thanks, Betty! I think what makes these achievements so special is that we work so hard for them. And, yes, it’s so incredibly special that we met in that first ever writing course I did! Thanks for visiting today. xx
I can just imagine you on that phone call waiting to get off and let the news sink in properly. How wonderfully exciting. And I do hope that despite its usefulness for now that WMBWBT doesn’t stick because it’s really quite a mouthful 😉 See you soon xx
Yes, it is hard to get your mouth around, but A&U have even used it! Hopefully, the final choice will be something that slips off the tongue more smoothly! 🙂
That was so exciting to read! Congratulations on your contract, looking forward to watching the process unfold 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed reading this, Sarah—it’s hard to know if people want to read about the ups and downs of the road to publication. I’m glad at least one reader does! Thank you. 🙂
Make that two readers. ????
Thank you, Margaret! 🙂
Congratulations Louise!! How exciting!! I can’t wait for the book to come out. When you see the sales on Amazon, (from the US) one of them will be mine. Lol!! Wishing you a huge readership, which I know you will have, and a joyous pen as you set forth on your next novel. ????
Thank you, Karen! And thanks for writing for this blog and for reading and commenting. And thank you for being a kind and supportive fellow writer! I hope you’ll enjoy reading my book—you’ll certainly recognise some of the characters from that first short story with Gotham all those years ago! 🙂
Congratulations! It’s fantastic to read about success stories. Best of luck with the rest of the publishing process.
Thanks, Marie, for popping by with congratulations and good wishes—I need every wish on offer! I see you’re a writer and working on a second novel, too—good wishes back to you! 🙂
Thanks for popping over to my site too! I’m looking forward to following the rest of your journey. ????
You’re very welcome! We can follow each other’s writing pathway! 🙂
Congratulations Louise! I really look forward to reading your book. I’ve been following your blog for a while now (too timid to post comments!) and have enjoyed reading about your whole journey
So nice to see you again this weekend, Bindy! Thanks for commenting—it’s hard to work up the courage! Best wishes for your writing. xx
Yay!! Well done, Louise. I can’t wait to read it. I’ve heard good things…
Thank you, Kali! 🙂 Congratulations to you, too! I look forward to reading your book in 2018. It’s nice to know someone else with the same goals! 🙂