Tale of the Sale

It has come to my attention that I never told the real and true story of how my novel got sold.

I’m going to skip the years of work and so forth and focus on what happened at the time of sale. I know that I always wondered what the process was like.

This is what happened: A couple days after she read it (which only took a day after I emailed it to her) my agent asked me to make a few changes before she sent it out. I did (another day). Then she said she was sending it out and did.

I didn’t hear anything for a few days.

My agent does not tell me about rejections. I know some do and forward emails from everyone. My agent only calls when there’s good news.

I called and talked to her assistant. He told me that– and this is the sort of exciting part– publishing houses have SPIES. That’s right. Spies. Or maybe it was a scout? Anyway, people who did not receive it asked about it through the grapevine.

I hoped then there would be a wild auction, but there was none.

Anyway, the process on whether or not to buy it also includes the publisher looking up previous sales from similar books to see if they sold well.

But what if the book is unlike any other books that came before it?

Then they might not take the chance.

That kind of sucked. But I had predecessors who did well: Amy Tan, Lisa See, and now Jamie Ford. So I had that going.

Then, I got to talk to the editor, who talked me up like she was trying to sell ME on HER, when I was just gleeful that ANYBODY was talking to me. When you have dreamed about getting to this point since you were five years old, you are going to be beyond pleased. I mean, at that point, I would have added vampires and zombies if she asked me to. Well, not really. But almost.

I did receive an advance, which I understand was modestly larger than average, but not anything anyone could ever live off of. The funny thing is that people automatically assume you’re rich when you have sold a book. Folks who receive six-figure advances are not the norm. I am still hustling freelance work, still writing in my tiny ant-infested apartment. Still building character. It should stronger than these volcano walls by now.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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