Monday, 15 December 2008

On meeting my publishers!

Today was a day I've been looking forward to and dreading in equal measures for AGES!

I was looking forward to it because...well, that's fairly obviously really isn't it? In my mind it was the day that would make all this getting a book published malarkey real.

And dreading it? Because:

a) I was nervous I'd be asked to make lots of changes to HoWG
b) I was nervous my editor wouldn't like my idea for book 2
c) I'd been told I had 'lots of fans in the office' who wanted to meet me and I hate being the centre of attention
d) I was sure I'd do or say something so inane and idiotic they'd immediately rescind the 2-book deal and tell me never to darken their door again!

As it turned out I really, really shouldn't have worried. It was a great few hours and none of the scenarios I'd been dreading came true.

So what happened?

I met my agent at her agency at 11am. She gave me a guided tour of the agency (I'd only seen a little bit of it during my last visit) and I totally fell in love with it. It's a house that has been converted into offices and it's full of charm, an adopted cat - and books. Books everywhere! There's a ten foot bookshelf in the hallway that is absolutely stuffed with books and every office is absolutely crammed with shelves filled with book after book after book. The staff there even use piles of hard-back books to raise their computer monitors up to the correct height! Book heaven I tell you.

I was introduced to my agent's assistant who told me she'd sobbed over the last few pages of my book when she read it at her desk (is it awful that I love that fact it made her cry?) and then gave me some fabulous news - she'd sold my novel to Russia!

I was still taking in that news when my agent and I set off across London to my publishers'. It was an impressive-looking building with glass doors, fancy lifts and two reception desks to navigate and if I hadn't had my agent at my side (and been dosed up on cold and flu remedies) I'd have been quaking in my boots when my editor came out to meet us! I shouldn't have worried - she was really lovely and very welcoming. She led us into the main office (which looked just like a normal office - little booths in the middle with glass-walled offices on one side) and then into her office. I was introduced to someone who went off to make me a cup of coffee and then my editor started talking about my book and what happens next -

First of all she'll get some edits to me before Christmas (not very many thankfully!) and she thinks I should be able to get them done within a week. The manuscript will then go off to a copy-editor who'll go through the book with a fine tooth comb and highlight any inconsistencies, glitches in time span/clothing/description etc and get them back to me. I'll then have to make the changes and a 'proof' will be produced (my manuscript in book form - either with a plain cover and my name and book title or a mock-up of the final cover) and I'll get to read through that to check that the typesetting hasn't introduced any glaring inconsistencies/changes. A proof-reader will also do the same. At some point during this process I'll also be asked for my feedback on the cover (apparently the first cover mock-ups will be produced in around February time next year!).

So we talked a bit about covers and retailers and various people popped into the office to meet me. I can't begin to explain how truly BIZARRE it is to meet so many people that have read (and enjoyed) your book. Other than my agent and publishers NO ONE other than me has read the book from start to finish (my editor told me she's read it FOUR TIMES now!) and for someone to say, "It was really funny," or "I could hear my colleague giggling from my office," or "there are some really touching bits," is a real pinch yourself moment. For a start you have no idea how to respond. My natural response was to go, "Really?!!!" but I managed to smile and say "thank you" instead. Of course now I feel a HUGE pressure to make book 2 equally as funny but I'm trying not to think about that!

At one point I was asked how I'd written the book as it all seemed to slot into place and I sheepishly admitted that, while I knew the first few scenes and how it ended, I'd made up the middle bit on the fly. I expected everyone in the room to gasp in horror but instead they just nodded sagely and commented that all authors were different - some plotting every scene while others sat down with a blank screen and made up the whole lot as they went along.

That was a relief as I'm approaching book 2 in the same way (I know the first 9 scenes and the ending but not the middle) and I was dreading being asked to provide a more detailed synopsis! I asked when I'd be expected to let her see book 2 and she said I could either provide a bit at a time or finish it and then let her see it. I went for the latter - I'd much rather finish a draft and then edit it into shape than send in 3 or 4 chapters that I might end up changing later anyway. My editor suggested next September as a delivery date and I agreed that that sounded do-able.

So about an hour into the meeting my editor suggested that we go to lunch. She took us to a lovely restaurant in Covent Garden and ordered each of us a glass of champagne and toasted me (so weird!) and then we perused the menu. I had king prawns and squid for starter and swordfish for main and a coffee instead of dessert. We mostly talked about non-writing things over lunch and the next two hours flew by.

Goodbyes were said and then I headed home.

So there you go - my not-very-terrifying-at-all meeting with my publishers! There are more people to meet in the future (there's an authors' party in January that I'm really looking forward to - apparently the last one was at the Royal Opera House with unlimited champagne!) and lots of work to be done but it's all really exciting stuff.

And I'm not going to feel stressed about book two (much!).


pierre l said...

This is a great post, Cally. You seem to have a really fabulous bunch of people to work with. I will certainly be buying your book, but probably not the Russian edition. If a French edition is produced, I shall have one of those as well. I am really pleased for you, and look forward to a book signing in due course.

Sarah*G* said...

Is it bad that I am jealous? It all sounds so cool and I am really looking forward to reading your book. I am sure that book 2 will flow as well. You are a hard worker and dedicated writer so all this fabulousness (I know that isn't a real word!) is totally deserved and you should relish every moment of it.

SueG said...

This really is the stuff that fantasies are made of. I'm so happy for you!

HelenMH said...

That sounds so exciting. Glad you're enjoying it so much.

Lane said...

Wow! Thanks for the insight in to your day! You must be thrilled to smithereens. Well done to you m'dear.

Now tell me, I'm shallow I know but ... what did you wear?:-)

Tam said...

What a fabulous day - I know you've made memories you're always going to treasure.
And no, it isn't wrong to want people to cry at the sad bits (or if it is, I'm wrong with you). I have to stop myself demanding from people if they cried.
And great news about Russia, too. You're really flying now - enjoy!

Gonna be a writer said...

What a fantastic day. I really enjoyed reading about it.

andreabird said...

I have just read your amazing story of today, well done.
I am now dreaming of the same !
kind regards

KAREN said...

Is it wrong that I love reading this stuff and being thrilled?! I want it to be me, dammit, but in the meantime, keep posting - I'll enjoy it vicariously!

Calistro said...

Pierre - Thank you. Yes, they are a fantastic group of people to work with. I'm very lucky :o) I'll let you know if we manage to sell the book to France!

Sarah - It's not bad that you're jealous. I always felt the same way when reading about this kind of thing happening to other people and it spurred me on in the hope that it could happen to me too! And thank you for the kind words about me deserving this fabulousness. I just hope I'm not a one-hit wonder!

Sue - Thank you :o)

Helen - It's wonderfully exciting and the tiniest bit scary too!

Lane - Not shallow at all considering I was worrying about what to wear! See the dress second from the left on this page - - that's what I wore (my editor commented 'nice dress' so it was worth the cost! :o))

Tam - I'm glad it's not just me with the crying thing. Now if I just found it as easy to write the funny bits as the sad bits I'd be laughing (so to speak).

Gonna - Glad you enjoyed reading about it :o)

Andrea - If I can achieve this anyone can! Just keep writing and never give up!

Karen - It will be you! Publishers are crying out for funny and you're a natural (I know, I've read your SAF stories). It's just a matter of time!

JJ said...

OMG. How exciting. Thank you for giving us the blow by blow account because I'm loving it.

(I love Get Cutie... good find)

Lane said...

OMG! (and I never say OMG). That is so cool!
What a great shop. x

Debs said...

What a fascinating day, and thank you for telling us about it in such wonderful detail. I'm so thrilled for you, and you're certainly spurring me on to keep trying.

Congratulations, you really deserve this success. I can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

Yourself and this posting are an inspiration to us all!

Kate said...

What a great account of a lovely day - I was dying to know how you got on! And didn't I tell you everyone was fab?

Congratulations on the Russian deal, too!!!

It's all fabulous and well-deserved. And the parties live up to their reputation, hope they won't be too credit-crunched this year...

Fiona said...

Thank you so much for letting us in on the day and all that's involved. It sounds brilliant and they obviously love you Cally.

I've followed your blog for ages and you've worked so hard but you've also got talent. Err...where can I get that please?

Bernadette said...

That sounds like a fantastic day!

And well done on the Russia sale.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Yey! Go Cally! So thrilled for you. I am TERRIFIED about the next bit having just jumped the agent hurdle, so it's lovely to hear your account. The dress rocks - hope you will be having lots more occasions to wear it this Christmas! x

womagwriter said...

Fantastic, and thanks for sharing it all with us!

Fionnuala said...

I'm SOOOOOO jealous! Delighted for you but the jealousy's stronger! Fx

sexy said...