Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Anatomy of a Book Deal

By popular request I thought I’d share with you an experience I had getting a book deal. This is just one story of many and I do promise to share more as time goes on.

In February I received a query from an author who claimed (which I believed) that she had previously equeried in November but never heard back from me. After reading a recent blog post in which I stressed that I always answer queries and suggested that if you hadn’t heard from me you should consider resending the query, she did. Good move. I immediately requested the partial, which I read, liked, and requested the full, which I read, liked, and offered representation.

The book was a paranormal mystery. It was a lot of fun and I was excited about it. So upon finishing the book I got on the phone, called the author, and offered representation. She seemed excited and we talked a bit about the book, the way I work, and my vision for her book. She explained that she did have at least one other agent reviewing the manuscript and asked if she could have until Monday to get back to me (this might have been sometime in the middle of the week). I said of course she should and we ended the call.

I believe it was a day or so later that I got the email. The author decided that she didn’t really know why she was waiting for the other agent since she knew she wanted to sign with me anyway. We had a deal. Now it doesn’t always go this smoothly, but in today’s story it did.

So after revisions, some that were fairly extensive, and a few conversations, the book went out on submission (about a month after representation was offered). And we waited and we waited. And the rejections came in. I resubmitted and still more rejections. The news wasn’t good, so to keep our minds off of it we were starting to think of other things. In June I had a conversation with an editor at House A. She had a short list of ideas that she wanted to see as mysteries. So I thought of my Client and sent the list along. She was intrigued. Very intrigued, in fact. So she set to work.

We had plenty of discussions about direction, plot, and characters and in July (about a month or so later) I got the first draft of the synopsis and three chapters (about 30 pages). I reviewed them and we did some revisions. There was a lot to be done so it took another two to three weeks for the author to revise. And then finally it was ready. The first place I sent it to, of course, was the editor who had specifically asked for a mystery with this hook. Less than five days later we got our answer. She passed. Ultimately she just didn’t love it. She didn’t love the characters or the mystery. Not a problem, we moved on.

Another publisher really liked it, but felt she needed to see 100 pages and wanted a few changes. We were on it. The author set to work writing more chapters and I set to work on revisions. We really put our blood and sweat into this one and made it sparkle. In the meantime, the final rejections came in for the paranormal. While we were both disappointed, we were excited about the new project, which always makes rejection easier.

In early October we had it done and I sent it off to the editor. And, voila! Ten days later we had an offer. A wonderful, beautiful offer. I talked to the editor to get the details and relayed them all to the author. She was thrilled, dancing a little dance at her three-book deal.

Before accepting though I had some work to do. I called other editors who were reviewing the material to see if we could turn this into something bigger. Alas, no takers. So I called the editor back and told her what we wanted. We went back and forth on a few issues (this took a couple of days) until finally I (with the author’s blessing) formally accepted.

And now we have the hard copy contracts in hand and I’m carefully reviewing those.