It’s been exciting times in the life of this inkstained writer. My nib positively overflows in fact. I can finally announce the publishing deal, news of which I’ve been keeping under wraps for months now. I have a two-book deal with the brilliant Headline – I love their covers and the publicity they do is great. The whole process seems to have taken an interminably long period of time between initial offer, negotiations, deal, contract drafting, negotiations, signing, posting, etc. Apparently this is how it works. But now it’s done! One strange thing is that because it takes much longer than I realised, I didn’t really have what everyone seems to call ‘the phone call’. I had several phone calls and far more emails, in fact. And being a comfortably pessimistic Irish person, I didn’t want to celebrate until I had that contract in my sweaty inkstained grip. I’m much better at worrying than celebrating.
In fact, I got the phone call that said we had a final offer and should accept (from my agent) minutes before I was about to go into my boss and try to negotiate working part-time. I had just been offered a two day a week job with the Crime Writers’ Association (www.thecwa.co.uk ), handling the day-to-day running and helping to develop what is already a long-established and prestigious organisation. Since I hadn’t realised until the publishing deal came that I even wrote crime, and then the job, their first ever paid role, popped up on the website round about the same time, this could be a type of serendipity.
So I have a new job, and this combined with the book deal means I can finally give up my day one. My parents (cautious Irish folk not given to ‘follow your dreams’-type views – if they were the nun in the Sound of Music they would sing ‘first open a pension’ instead of ‘Climb Every Mountain’) were worried and I’m very aware that nowadays, publishing careers are short. But this is what I’ve wanted to do all my life, and it seems to be working so far, so I think it’s right to give it my best shot. Farewell then to the old job. So long, rubbish, delayed, Southeastern trains (will I have to change my blog title?). Thanks for all the writing time, as I spent three hours a day on you. Sayonara, day-long meetings and clip art and discussions about the Christmas do, and all the other accoutrements of office work, my daily life for the past five-plus years. Bonjour, working in pyjamas avec USB-heated mittens and tea on an IV drip. I don’t know yet how I will cope without the office and the long trips up to Kennington (my guess is REALLY WELL), but we’ll see.
So that’s it. Thursday will be my first day as a working writer. I now have three weeks to edit a 100,000 word book. Inkstains will indeed be all over the show.
The truth about getting a publishing deal (you heard it here first)
It can still happen – Just over a year ago (January 2010) I still had not shown my work to a single other person for nearly twenty years, and I had only been writing seriously for a year or so before that. If this is really what you want, and you’re prepared to slog it out, don’t give up. It almost breaks my heart when I hear stories about people who have given up on their writing.
It takes ages to sort out – my agent keeps gently explaining this is how things work. Luckily being a writer makes you a really good player of the writing game. I once waited six months to hear from an agent, only to get a ‘no’. Just because it takes a while doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
You CAN get enough to live off – it still happens, no matter what you hear. It depends of course on how much you need (Primark or Prada?) and an understanding/ solvent spouse probably helps too. But it is possible.
You will be told how great your book is…then presented with a list of what’s wrong. Of course I knew in practice this would happen, and I think I’ve coped quite well, but it is still a shock to see a big list of all the ridiculous errors and typos you made. Aargh! Did I really write something happened ‘six weeks’ before when in fact it was months? Idiot.
Everyone will be happy for you –although I know a fair few writers, I haven’t yet had anyone try to beat me to death with their unpublished manuscripts, or shun me in the pub. Maybe they hate me inside, and I can totally understand that feeling as I’ve had it for years, obsessing over Bookseller deals and grumbling at other people’s vast advances, but they haven’t shown it yet. So thanks. Writers are the kindest and most helpful people I know. FACT.