I may have mentioned a few weeks back that I had submitted my novel to a small independent press near the end of summer. After two years of slugging it out, querying agent after agent, and receiving moderate success in terms of compliments and book requests but absolutely zero success in terms of acquiring an agent, I decided it was time to look elsewhere.
Earlier this year, a dear friend of mine was waiting on her acceptance letter to grad school. It was a tough time for her, filled with all the typical uncertainties we face when confronted with the approval of others, and I remember she said, "If I don't get into this grad school, I'll never be successful." And I, oh so blissfully unaware of the rejection letters still to come my way, told her, "You will be successful. You are already successful. And this school is just one of the many routes you can take to get where you want to go." I didn't realize at the time how true those words would come to be in my own life.
Sometime later, I was scrolling through the #MSWL (or "Manuscript Wish List") posts on Twitter. Funnily enough, this hash tag was created by one of the agents I met at the Atlanta Writer's Conference two years ago, the very same agent who had, days prior, rejected my query (it was a nice rejection, though, I must add). #MSWL is a place where agents and publishing companies can tell authors what kind of work they're seeking and a small press was looking for realistic young adult fiction.
Whaddya know? That's exactly what I write.
So I submitted a query and three sample chapters. Two weeks later, I got a full book request. And for the last five weeks I've been trying my best not to imagine the all-too-familiar sinking feeling that comes when I get a kindly-worded rejection letter in the mail.
Thankfully, I don't have to...because next week we start contract negotiations.
In other words, my book is being published, y'all!
*Please let's pause for a moment so I can put down my computer and do yet another happy dance*
Yesterday morning I received a response from the publishing team and wasn't quite sure what it meant. They told me how much they loved the characters and the book, and how it had sparked what they called "lively discussion" amongst them. And then they told me what they thought should be added to/taken away from the story to make it better. Of course, that's to be expected. But still. I had to think about that for a minute. What relieved me from my momentary discomfort, however, was the fact that they asked how I felt about their suggestions. What did I hope to accomplish with my story? So I told them. And five hours later, I got this response:
"Great! We're in agreement on the direction of the story. We'll start contract negotiations at the beginning of next week. We're looking forward to fleshing out this story with you and making a powerful statement to the teen community on the dangers of bullying."
I only got to the third sentence before I started ugly crying. Then I walked to the bedroom, held the phone out to Pierce, and we celebrated with lots of "Ohmigod"s and tears (mine) and hugs right there in the doorway of our bedroom. Lucy missed out on the festivities because she was sleeping. But I told her about it later. She threw her black beans at me, so I guess that's her way of saying congratulations.
I know I have a long road ahead of me. After the contract comes the edits. And after the edits comes the approval process. And after the approval process comes publishing day. Eventually, we'll get to the book release party (because I fully intend on having one of those, no matter the size of the print run). But I don't care. I really don't. Because this happened. It really and truly happened. And all my hard work has finally paid off.
I can't wait to see what comes next.