Happy release day, Emily Winslow! Not only does Emily’s book look great–I’m off to buy it as soon as I get done posting this–but her Moment is full of enough thrills to make every writer tingle. Check out her psychological mystery, also guaranteed to deliver some tingles.
There’s a fantasy that the getting of an agent or book deal will be celebrated over lunch in a New York restaurant, with mutual toasts and a deferential waiter. The truth, though, is that many writers don’t meet their agents or editors in person. They work quite happily apart, sending manuscripts back and forth over mail or email, and hashing details out over the phone. New-York-area writers may get a meal, but it’s not the standard.
So I was pretty stoked that circumstances have allowed me to enjoy FOUR such milestones over the past two years.
I don’t live in NYC; in fact, I live in England! But I grew up close enough to New York that a friend and I would cut school once a year to catch a commuter train into the city for the day. I still have lots of close ties train-distance from Manhattan. So when I signed with my agent, marvelous Cameron McClure at the Donald Maass Agency, I was quick to point out that I’d be traveling for a family wedding soon, and would love to “pop into” the city to meet her. I took Amtrak from Rhode Island, just like my grandfather used to for work. Normally, when someone else is paying, I try to order with restraint. But I felt so celebratory that I bookended the entree with appetizer AND dessert. The restaurant had a bustling business-y atmosphere, and the sink in the bathroom was filled with lovely, smooth river stones.
She sold my book a few months later, and a couple months after that both she and the editor who bought it headed to the London Book Fair. I live nearby, so that was chance number 2. We met at Bibendum, a fancy London restaurant. It has a unique stained glass window of, of all things, the Michelin Man. Hilarious stories of misbehaving authors were shared without naming names. Plans for future books were discussed. I skipped appetizer, but got dessert again.
About eight months later, I was in New England again, for family and business reasons. I volunteered to catch the train from Boston to meet the editor who would be editing my book (he works under the acquisitions editor I met in London). I assume that what they set up was done so for efficiency but to me it seemed the peak of luxury: eating in a private dining room in the Random House building. It was pretty much a meeting room with a waiter thrown in. The waiter was so formal and intimidating that I could only nod whenever he asked me if I was finished with a course, whether I was really done or not. It turned out that both my editor and I had been theater majors in college. We got along great.
The most recent lunch came at the transition between the editing phase and the publicity phase. I wanted the chance to meet my publicist, and make a good personal impression. I had no nearby obligations as an excuse to “drop in,” so this time I had to make a dedicated effort to get there. My husband travels a lot for business, so I was able to make use of all those accumulated air miles to travel from England for free. The most amazing thing? THERE WAS A SPECIAL OFFER ON THAT ALLOWED ME TO TRAVEL INTERNATIONAL FIRST CLASS. Apologies for the all-caps, but you have to understand–I have never even SEEN the inside of a proper first class cabin. They have these sort of personal pods where you can lie all the way down, or you can swivel your seat to face a desk, and you have a pop-up TV screen with a ton of recorded shows, and they just keeping bringing you food and alcohol for basically the entire flight. Wow.
This time we went to a Greek restaurant, with a large group: agent, editor, acquiring editor, and publicist. I handed out presents, including a lovely winter scarf for my editor. He wrote me a thank-you note weeks later, signing it with a stick-figure drawing of himself, scarf billowing behind, and my book in his hands. He drew a huge smile on his face. I keep that note as a bookmark. That’s my “made it moment.”
Bio: Emily Winslow is an American living in Cambridge, England, where her debut novel THE WHOLE WORLD is set.