February 8, 2012

So Then What Happened?

Filed under: Frontstory,The Writing Life — jenny @ 8:52 pm

So my novel finally sold after 11 years, and the excitement came amidst mundanities, like housecleaning (that’s me at the bottom of the stairs) and routine medical appointments. It took me a while to believe what had happened. It took me a while not to feel numb.

One thing I need to say, before I tell you guys what happened next, is something related to a very core belief of mine. I had enough time, while the publishing world was changing underneath all of us, to learn a lot about the different publishing paths. There are three main ones–traditional, small press, and indie–and I think they all have different things to offer. There are pros and cons to each.

Some of the details I’m going to talk about here are unique to the traditional publishing path because that’s the one I felt was right for me–and the one that opened to me at the right time. In the end, getting published will always be a combination of kismet, stars aligning, and the alchemy of knowing when to leap.

Anyway, some of these details will sound great. Some of them come with a cost (hello, twenty month delay till you see my book). Some of them I don’t even know yet. I pledge to be honest with you, the readers that come here, who mean so much to me. I’ll be honest about everything and I hope that doesn’t ever strike you amiss. If it does, please write me so we can talk about what I might be missing or not understanding.

Anyway…with that said…You know how, when you’ve been trying something for a very long time, you get used to the state where that something hasn’t happened? Then it happens, and you’re catapulted into another state, and you almost don’t feel like you’re you anymore.

This was me: I was unpublished. I was an aspiring writer. I was the one who kept coming close, but not q-u-i-t-e making it.

Now…I was going to be an author.

I still can’t say those words and feel quite like me. It was like when I met my husband-to-be after years of being the single Sally. (Is that a phrase or did I just make it up? Oh well. Let’s go with it). Anyway, I couldn’t get used to saying, “My boyfriend/fiance/husband.” I was Single Sally.

After a book sells, two things happen. I’d been hearing about them for, oh, a decade or so.

The first thing is that an announcement appeared in Publishers Lunch. Pub Lunch is an offshoot of Publishers Marketplace, which is a service I recommend to every writer I meet who’s looking for an agent. On PM there is a sidebar with ‘agents actively looking’. These agents are building a client list and they are GOOD.  I met my agent this way.

But I never expected to see in PM something else, namely the announcement that my book had sold, with a title, description, and whose work the publisher was comparing it to.

By the way, I’m fuzzing two things out for two reasons. The first is the pitch used to sell my book. It contains a spoiler that I am really hoping my publisher finds a workaround for the flap copy. I don’t want to give this away to you guys! It’s a surprise that comes at the end of the first chapter. I’m also fuzzing out my agent’s name. Some of you have written me over the years and know that I do share my agent’s name, even refer someone to her when the work might be right. So never hesitate to get in touch if this is something you’d like to talk about.

Publisher's Lunch Announcement

This is my book. I have to say that again. This is my book, right there, right here, for other people to see. It existed, and now me, my agent, my loyal trustys, and family–them of the Gat Publisht kids–weren’t the only people to know about it.

I felt so…real.

The phone calls and emails started coming in as soon as that announcement appeared. Early. An author whose book I’d loved last year contacted me. I can still see myself, standing by the kitchen counter–cleaning again–talking to a dear writer friend I hadn’t spoken to in over a year. The bringing together of people is one of the most powerful aspects of books for me.

The next thing that happened took some preparation. My new editor invited me and my agent to lunch. Because this is raw and real and I promised to tell you guys the truth, I will add that my husband called up the restaurant website and then he said, “Whoa.”

We’ve lived in or outside NYC all our lives. We’re fairly used to city dining. But to think that someone had chosen this restaurant to take me to–just because I had written a book–well, that was another sort of dream come true.

Of course, I had to buy a dress. And get my hair cut. And do something about my makeup, or lack thereof. I’m someone who spends a lot of days in my pajamas–and this was even more true 8 months ago.

That lunch was like a fairy tale. It was as if some sprite had come and draped the hard, fast-paced city with airy webs of light and sprigs of flowers. It was a time and a place out of time and place. My agent arrived first and she and I had a second to trade a hug and then my editor arrived and we all just really…clicked.

My editor and agent are clearly good people people–you’d have to be in the positions they occupy in the industry–and maybe all authors feel like this at their first lunches, but there seemed to be something special about this one. Something that felt destined. It had taken me a long time, such a long, hard, painful time, but I felt like I had wound up in the place I was always meant to be.

Midway through that lunch, my editor felt comfortable enough to tell me I had something on my lip.

And I felt comfortable enough to laugh about it.


  1. We love reading your made-it moment Jenny! We feel blessed to know that one of us really HAS made it in the traditional world, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person than you!

    Comment by Connie — February 8, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  2. Congratulations, this is such a great story, way to stick with it. i feel your pain, on a daily basis. Best of luck with the book. It sounds really good—I might be up for doing a review at The Nervous Breakdown. Send me an email, let’s chat.

    Comment by Richard Thomas — February 8, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  3. Great story Jenny. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Kellie — February 8, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  4. :) You make me laugh. Great stuff here.

    Comment by Leah — February 8, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  5. I love that detail about getting something stuck on your lip during An Important Meeting. Doesn’t that always happen?

    Comment by Juanita Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

  6. P.S. I’ll always remember the date your deal was announced – it’s my birthday. What a nice coincidence!

    Comment by Juanita Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

  7. 2013’s just around the corner! Just learned I’m releasing in the spring next year… Congrats again, Jenny!

    Comment by Douglas Corleone — February 8, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

  8. It’s funny.. I NEVER think of you cleaning- you have ALWAYS been my writer/author friend Jen. So very happy for you…..everyone is right…it couldn’t have happened to someone nicer, kinder or more generous.

    Comment by Deb McKinley — February 8, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

  9. LOL! Way to go! The big lunch IS the made-it moment, me thinks. The stars are aligned and all is right. Congratulations again.


    Comment by Julie D. — February 8, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  10. This is a fantastic story! I love that fairy tale lunch. Publishing a book is a little like a romance, no? A real rollercoaster ride. Try to capture the great moments and bring them out to savor from time to time.

    Comment by Ann Littlewood — February 8, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  11. Whoot, Jenny!

    Comment by Susan — February 9, 2012 @ 12:33 am

  12. Jenny, that was a really inspiring story. When you’ve sold a million you can always start turning up to your lunches in pyjamas ;-)

    Comment by ross — February 9, 2012 @ 4:27 am

  13. Terrific, Jenny!
    Best of L.U.C.K.!!!

    Comment by André — February 9, 2012 @ 4:43 am

  14. Wow that’s cool.

    I loved the way you describe it, it’s pretty much how I’ve fantasisted it would be if it ever happened to me although, to be honest, I know it won’t – not unless my books take off as indie.

    Best of luck and keep posting.



    Comment by M T McGuire — February 9, 2012 @ 5:44 am

  15. Jenny, you are such an inspiration to all writers. I don’t know of anyone else who can tell the story any better than you. And your continuous support of others is amazing. I can’t wait to see this fabulous book you’ve been working on for all these years!!

    Comment by mountainmama — February 9, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  16. Thanks for sharing, Jenny. Your story of a successafter 11 years in an inspiration for many aspiring writers. Hoping that they will send you to a book tour in book stores where you can read from your book and sign it to readers. Best wishes from Canada.

    Comment by Giora — February 9, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  17. I’ll always remember that day too and the note you wrote on Facebook. My first reaction was, “Hurray! Good things really do happen to good people!”

    Comment by Alison DeLuca — February 9, 2012 @ 8:21 am

  18. The lunch. Of course you got the dream that all writers dream about. Congratulations!

    Comment by Julianne Carlile — February 9, 2012 @ 8:31 am

  19. You are all so great. I’m so glad to see a stream of names for whom I know good writing things are happening. Or will happen–I see some students here. Being an “emerging writer” (thank you, Louise Penny, who christened me with the name back when I was starting to feel so bad saying, Struggling writer) is wonderful, if terrifying. So much potential. Things change on a dime in this business. They really do.

    Thank you for your votes of support–thank you for being there when things were bleak, so that you know what this means. Welcome to the new readers, too–one of whom gave me another moment this morning by asking for an ARC and I thought…I’m going to have an ARC??? OMG. I’m going to have an ARC.

    Here’s to writing dreams coming true in all their myriad possibilities and ways.

    I’m reading James Scott Bell on plot now and his two words of advice are: Keep writing.

    Comment by jenny — February 9, 2012 @ 8:50 am

  20. My favorite part was about the days in pajamas because I relate. :) One of the best parts of being a writer.

    Comment by Judy — February 9, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  21. Jenny – This is WONDERFUL news!!! I’m just catching on and reading about your success. I love what you’ve written here – very honest and very humorous, I can totally picture all of it in my head. After the eleven years of hard work and waiting, I hope you enjoy every second of what happens next. :)

    Comment by Laurie — February 9, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  22. Jenny, I also have to add that I completely agree with the statement “the bringing together of people is one of the most powerful aspects of books”. In my case, I wrote a novel based off an event that happened nearly 18 years ago. After I self-published my story, one of the characters in the story, who I haven’t spoken to since that time, contacted me after hearing about the book. What I’ve been given back is more powerful than anything. I just wanted to share that… thanks :) Best of luck to you & very happy for you!

    Comment by Laurie — February 9, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  23. Congratulations, Jenny, you deserve this.


    Comment by Arthur Levine — February 9, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  24. That’s amazing. Your statement “Then it happens, and you’re catapulted into another state, and you almost don’t feel like you’re you anymore” is just beautiful. And what amazing photographs! Is the top one THE basement?

    Comment by SavvyBlue — February 9, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  25. Hi Jenny, this is a great story and I’d like to say good for you. I hope your book sells a million copies.

    Comment by Alex Lukeman — February 9, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  26. Jenny,

    This is a wonderful story. It really just proves how genuine you are. There is the dining, the stars in your eyes and the house cleaning! How fresh. I can’t wait to read your book and to continue hearing and reading as your process continues. Thank you.

    Best to you,

    Comment by Theresa Varela — February 9, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  27. Thank you, everybody, for your responses. Honestly, I never know how this is going to sound. Dumb? Housecleaning? Really? I really appreciate your not laughing, or only laughing in the right spots!

    Comment by jenny — February 9, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  28. I love your honesty! Very exciting and well deserved! Thanks for sharing with all of us!

    Comment by Pamela Brennan Albacete — February 9, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

  29. Jenny, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing this story! Still a thrill to see your dreams come true. It’s an inspiration to everyone that’s been hanging in there, working and waiting and hoping for just the right opportunity. I agree with everyone who said it couldn’t happen to a nicer person–or one who appreciates every moment of it more.

    Comment by Lauren S — February 9, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

  30. Jenny,

    It’s such fun to read of your success. As you know, I’m trying to stay away from the computer this month while my eye heals, but you make it difficult with your scintillating blog posts. Can’t you just write badly for a change to help me out? :-)


    Comment by Elizabeth C. Main — February 10, 2012 @ 2:08 am

  31. Loved this post – especially the last line where you’re comfortable – even in a new outfit and with a new haircut.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — February 10, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  32. Jenny, what a wonderful post! Dreams really do come true! Thanks for sharing your excitement, and a million good wishes for the best yet to come.

    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 11, 2012 @ 4:00 am

  33. Fantastic story! Congratulations on finally getting you’re book published.

    Comment by Rachel — February 11, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  34. [...] I don’t actually think there were candles on the table at that glam lunch my new editor took me and my agent to. But there might as well have been, as readers of this blog [...]

    Pingback by Suspense Your Disbelief » Candles & Champagne Can’t Last Forever — April 9, 2012 @ 9:30 am

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