Friday 2 July 2010

The Phone Call

Every published author knows what it's like to get The Call - that moment of pure, life-affirming joy when you're told that your story... YOUR STORY... will actually be a real book in a real bookshop with a real cover and (hopefully) real fans.

In my case, Zac and the Dream Pirates had been turned down by a few agencies. I received very polite letters from various agents - or assistants - mostly telling me that my manuscript "wasn't right" for them. A couple commented that they thought my writing style had potential, and asked me to send along whatever I might work on next. Close but no contract.

I built a little collection of rejections, giving particular pride of place to the letter in which I was addressed as Rose rather than Ross, and prepared to send out a second round of queries.

And then something incredible happened.

You see, way back when I sent out that first batch of manuscripts, I allowed myself one Silly Submission - not to a literary agency like the others, but to a publisher. My dream publisher.
I pushed this particular submission to the dark, cobweb strewn recesses of my mind, never daring to believe that it might actually lead somewhere.

Many months later, I arrived home in a stinking mood after a stinking day at work, and checked the phone. There was a message.
That's when I heard Barry Cunningham's unmistakable voice. The Barry Cunningham, discoverer of Harry Potter and founder of Chicken House.
He'd read my manuscript, and would very much like me to call him back!

I hung up. I tried to breathe. I danced around. I composed myself. I picked up the phone and dialed with trembling hands...

The contract was signed a few weeks later. Zac hits the shops on September 6th. I keep trying to imagine what it'll feel like to walk into a bookstore and pick up my book.

Whatever happens, it'll take a helluva lot to beat that first call.

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