Authors wanting to be published often dream of “the call.” As you might image, this is this phone conversation where the editor to whom you’ve submitted one of your books calls you and says, “We want to buy your book.”
As an unpublished author who’d been writing for three years, I was talking to an agent, winning writing contests, and submitting my manuscript to Love Inspired Historical. I had dreamed of the moment when that editor would call me.
And imagined it.
Replayed it in my mind the way most people replay scenes of their favorite movies.
I’d had conversations in my head with the editor, though I’d never met her. And I had practiced acting calm and controlled on the phone. I wouldn’t scream into the poor editor’s ear, or shout for joy or start crying or do anything else to embarrass myself. Oh no. I was going to be a complete professional (even though I hadn’t the vaguest concept of how a professional author was supposed to behave).
I had told myself that I wouldn’t hear back from the publisher until July or August. After all, a publisher would need at least four months to review the manuscript and decide whether they wanted to buy it. And with that happy news, I left on a little anniversary trip with my husband in early June, while my mom visited for a week and babysat our two kids.
My husband and I returned home early and found an empty house, as my mom had taken the kids to the park. When everyone got home an hour later and we’d exchanged hugs and small talk, my mom goes, “Oh, by the way some editor from New York City called earlier today.”
The world froze at that moment. It must have. I barely remember anything more. In truth, I probably jumped at my mom and nearly strangled her as I demanded every detail of the conversation. “What did the editor say?” “Did she leave a call back number?” “Surely she said more than just to have me call her back!” “What do you mean their offices close early on Fridays in the summer? How am I supposed to wait all the way until Monday to call her back????”
But alas, the Love Inspired office did close early on Fridays during the summer months, and I had to wait all the way until Monday to talk to the editor. In the meantime, I contacted Natasha Kern, the agent who had offered me representation and was waiting for my response. I sent her a calm, polite, professional email. I believe the subject line said something like “Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Natasha confirmed that Love Inspired Historical would only be calling me because they wanted to buy the book. They wouldn’t waste their time calling me with a rejection. So I signed a contract with Natasha, letting her handle the details of the sale to Love Inspired Historical.
Except I still had to call the editor back on Monday morning, and now my brain was whirling with instructions from my agent. “Don’t make any commitments. Absolutely do not say the word “yes” to anything while you’re talking to her. Refer her to me and I’ll handle it.”
And still, in the back of my mind, I was half convinced the editor was calling me for some reason other than to buy my book. So I impatiently waited through the whole weekend until 8:05 Monday morning, when I called the editor. And she said those wonderful, dreamed of words “We want to buy your book.” And I nearly fainted, but it was the first time in my life anyone had called one of my stories a book. I’d never let myself think of my stories as books. They were manuscripts or works in progress, and not to be called books until I’d gotten a publishing contract.
Still trying to act professional (and not shout or scream or cry or faint), I referred the editor to my agent, and the deal was finalized a couple weeks later.
Now I have an agent and an editor and a real, legitimate, tangible book that coming out in April 2012. Plus I’m writing other manuscripts that my agent can sell to my editor, who can turn those into tangible books.
And somehow I still manage to act profoundly unprofessional most of the time. So much for that dream of being a “professional” writer.