I can finally announce it. Ink has dried. Hands have been shaken. Checks have been cut. The deal is done. I’ve signed a contract with New York publisher, Dorchester Publishing. They will be publishing my novel, Accidents Waiting To Happen, next March in paperback under their Leisure imprint.
Wow. I’ve finally cracked the big leagues. It only took me just under eight years. And it only seems like an eternity. J
And I almost blew it. Like all adventures in my life, nothing happens without a little drama. In publishing, good news arrives by phone. Bad news arrives by self-addressed envelope. The editor called–but I was in the shower. I didn’t hear the call, and my answering machine didn’t feel like recording it either. When I got home that evening, the message light was flashing. I hit play and got:
“Hi, Simon, it’s Don. I’m calling about the b–”
He was calling. That meant good news, right? But he’d only had the manuscript a few days. He might be calling because he spilt coffee over it and needed another copy. Or maybe it was so monumentally bad, he wanted to break protocol to call me personally to tell me how much it sucked and how he wished he could have those hours back that he’d burned up reading it. I wanted to call, but it was nine o’clock on the east coast. I don’t think he would have appreciated me calling information to get his home number. But if he had good news, I figured I should return his call, otherwise, what would he think? Hey, that Simon Wood guy didn’t return my call. He sounds like a bit of a dilettante. We don’t need his kind here at Dorchester Publishing. Worse still, his message could have come with a time limit.
“Hi, Simon, it’s Don. I’m calling about the book. I love it, I want it, but you have to return this call in the next hour or the deal is off.”
How bad would that be?
At this point, I might have begun obsessing, but don’t quote me. I think Julie may have punched me too. I think she got a little bored with my theories–or craziness, as she liked to call it. I went to bed and decided to lay awake thinking about what he would say when I called him back. Who needs sleep when faced with the important phone call of their writing career?
So I called early the next morning and got the good news that Dorchester did want the book and none of my imagined scenarios applied.
Don hit me with, “So what do you think?”
I was so out of emotion at this point that all I could muster was “sounds good.” Yeah, I know, but it was the best I could come up with.
Now I understand why authors have agents. We shouldn’t be allowed outside without a handler.
After all that, Dorchester still wanted to give me a contract.
It goes without saying that this is a huge writing career boost for me that will propel me out of the small press world. Leisure books have great distribution. All the major chains carry their titles prominently. It will no longer be an issue for my readers to obtain my books, and it will be easy for new readers to discover me. This is what I’ve always wanted. Journey’s end.
This doesn’t mean I can slack off. No way. All that has changed is that my work will be more available and more affordable. Writing a damn good story and getting the word out is just as tough.
While having a book coming out in mass paperback is a great opportunity, it’s also a burden. My book and I will be in the spotlight. No longer will I have the excuse that my book just isn’t seen. My publishing reputation is mine to lose. It’s a worry, but it’s also a challenge and it’s a challenge that I relish. I can’t wait for this book to get out there and see how far it will go.
Does this mean I’ll forget those people I’ve worked with in the small press? No. I owe my reputation to the small press. I’m hoping that the wider net Accidents Waiting To Happen will cast will draw new readers to my small press titles. The reason for this is twofold. First, I want to repay the faith those small press publishers had in my work. Second, I’m not finished with the small press. I have plenty of other projects that will appeal more to small press than NY publishing, because of their subject matter, word length, genre, etc. For me, this will be the best of both worlds. I want to have venues where I can tell all my stories.
I’m not sure what will happen from now on. Hopefully, it will lead to foreign rights sales or something nice like that. I’ve always wanted to see my work and not understand a bloody word of it. I just hope that this is the start of a beautiful relationship.
See you on the bookshelves,