I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!
AKA, THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING WHEN YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU’RE DOING AT ANY GIVEN TIME!
Hi! Hey! Hello! First Blog Post! Not Sure How To Start So I’ll Just Capitalize A Lot Of Words! Yay, Capitalizing!! Anyway, Moving On:
I have a book deal! And I cry about it every day! No, really: it’s been a few weeks, and I’ve been scheduling about 20 mins to cry of happiness every morning. Usually while I eat cereal. Lucky Charms + Tears = the apotheosis of umami.
(I know these are Fruit Loops, but non-copyrighted pics are hard to come by on the WorldWideWebs.)
I started writing a little over three years ago—when I discovered fanfiction. My gateway drug was Star Trek (mmm, Spock, and Nyota, and Bones, and Kirk), and then Pride and Prejudice (mmm, Darcy & Lizzy), and then Star Wars (mmm, Ben Solo. And Rey. And Finn. And Poe. And Hux. And… well, you get my point), but I read works in over a dozen fandoms (I even read works for SHOWS I’VE NEVER WATCHED, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???). Everything I know about writing (admittedly very little) I learned from fic and romance novels.
I began becoming interested in writing original stories about a year ago, but I honestly had no idea where to start. I mean, how does one Creative? Petrified, terrified, lost, aghast, and more than a little ignorant, I decided to try what seemed like the easiest option: adapting one of my old fics. (Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t easiest, not at all. A year later I have adapted one (1) fic and written one (1) manuscript from scratch, and let me tell you, the latter was way more fun and waay easier and waaay less work. Plus, the fic ended up having to be completely rewritten anyway. As I mentioned before: I rarely know what I’m doing and I am often wrong!).
(Another non-copyrighted picture of me contemplating my life choices. I cannot believe this one was free. I’d pay a lot of money for it! That is, if I had any money.)
So, how does one Do the Publishing? Excellent question! If you’re like me, you’ve lived the first few decades of your life convinced that books just sort of download from the head of your favorite writer directly into your hands, farm-to-Kindle style. But what I’ve recently discovered is that becoming published means bamboozling a lot of people into thinking that you’re a good writer. (Yes, I am running a long-con here). What kind of people, you wonder? Ha! Glad you asked.
A literary agent: So, the first step to be traditionally published is to get an agent. I think (and please remember that I Know Nothing Jon Snow) that an agent is someone who believes in your work (because it’s good or because, like me, you have swindled them) and (1) helps you get it in better shape so that publishers will like it, and (2) pitches it to publishers so that they’ll buy it and… well. Publish it. Agents do so in exchange for a commission (I think the standard is 15%, which in the case of my agent is definitely too low considering the 2 a.m. all-caps emails from me she constantly puts up with.) My agent is Thao Le, and she is The Best.
How do you find an agent? So, I think most people find one through querying, which is basically the process of submitting your work to them and asking if they’d be interested in representing you. I was lucky, because I found Thao by chatting with her: she read some of my fics, found a note I wrote about wanting to try to write original stuff, and asked me if I’d be interested in submitting some of my works. By the way: this is, I think, not super unusual. I know of at least three other people who write fic, made it known that they were writing original things, and were approached by different agents who invited them to query!
(Ah, also: I have a friend who was able to get published by, I think, winning a contest, and thus completely skipped the agent stage and just found an editor directly! I don’t know a lot about this, but I just wanted to mention this because it’s a possibility!)
(Me, spying on agents and editors to collect info about them to better trick them into thinking I’m a good writer. Listen, I’m working with limited resources here.)
So, now you have successfully swindled an agent into thinking that you are A Writer. (Preposterous.) What happens at this point? You two team up to swindle even more people! And in particular what you need is…
An Editor: So, your beloved agent helps you get your book in top shape (in my case it took approximately 86906876 revisions. What can I say… I’m good.) and then pitches it to publishers! This is called being ‘On Sub’ and it’s universally considered to be A Most Miserable Time In A Writer’s Career. You mostly just wait. And wait. Oh, sometimes you wait, too. At some point you get phone calls with editors who might be interested in your book and you chat with them and you get all starstruck because they sound so knowledgeable and smart and nice and their imprints have edited some of your forever faves and your palms sweat and you make a fool of yourself and laugh nervously a lot and stress eat Lucky Charms right out of the box before AND after the phone call. Your cats look at you with a mix of disdain and more disdain. You yell at your husband ‘I AM BUT A FRAUD!11!!!!!’ when he asks, ‘What should we have for dinner?’
So you try to take your mind off the fact that you’re on sub by writing another book (and I plan to blog about the process of Learning To Write A Manuscript next, so stay tuned for more word vomit and free stock pics!) But then one beautiful day one kind editor takes pity on you and buys your book! In my case, Sarah Blumenstock (fave last name evah) at Berkley, who is amazing and very passionate about women in STEM and even snuck the word FORCE into my deal announcement! (Cue: more Lucky Charms tears).
So, this is where I’m at, currently! My understanding is that now Sarah will help me turn my book (and two more, omg!) into their bestest selves. I plan to keep you updated on the process, of course! And if you’re here… thank you for your support. And for believing in me. Or even for NOT believing in me and just sticking around to empathize as I try to figure this whole thing out.
My first book (omgomgomgomgomgomgomg), THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, will be out in the FALL 2021 season. It’s the story of Olive, a biologist who’s scrambling to figure out how to finish up an ambitious research project, deal with her crazy, fantastic friends’ love troubles, and, crucially, fake-date the most terrifying scientist in her department. Will she find real-love in the process? You’ll have to read and see.
(Yes, of course she will, WHO DO YOU TAKE ME FOR?)
I cannot wait to share this story—and many, many more about women in STEM falling in love—with you guys.
P.S. This post is not sponsored by Lucky Charms. But I wish it were.
P.P.S. It’s important to me that you know that when I say Lucky Charms, I mean the chocolate ones.
P.P.P.S. Here’s an unsolicited cat pic.
P.P.P.P.S. Yes, this cat recently ate my earplugs.