I’ve been writing fiction, quite literally, for most of my life. Decades. Hundreds and thousands of words, some better placed than others, some telling a story and some wandering off into the weeds.
And today, I get to say for the first time officially: I have signed a contract to get my novel, Tune in Tomorrow, published.
For those of you who aren’t writers, this may sound like something that happens every day, to anyone who wants to do it. It’s no big deal. After all, self-publishing is a thing now thanks to Amazon and other outlets. And yeah: anyone can get published. You can do it without any barriers at all.
Having spent decades banging my head on the wall trying to do that very thing, trust me, I did think I should just do it myself. I completely admire people who do that — and make it work. Who make sales. Who rise above the rest. But I’m also traditional enough to know that I really, really wanted to make it happen the old-fashioned way. I wanted someone who didn’t know me, who didn’t feel they had to give me any encouragement whatsoever, to see a work of mine and decide: Yeah, this ought to be in the world, and I can help sell it. I am flabbergasted that it happened.
Simultaneously, there’s a non-zero part of me that is also sighing with relief, thinking finally.
Nobody deserves to get published. Nobody is guaranteed that this will happen, no matter how many words you write. And technically, I haven’t yet had a novel published: Tune in Tomorrow is not due out until (approximately) August of 2022 — and anything could happen between now and then. But getting a publisher to say they want the thing you’ve created isn’t only about doing it right, or pushing it hard: it’s about market forces, good contacts helping you along, and quite a bit of luck.
I’m feeling very lucky right now. And I have awesome friends, who’ve always been there to push me along.
That said, this is not an overnight thing by any means. Nothing will rile a writer more than watching a movie or a TV show where a character gets a genius idea to write a book and six months later is staring at the cover being promoted in a bookstore. (I’m looking at You specifically, but also a lot of other offenders.)
So for those who might wonder, Tune in Tomorrow went from basic idea to deal being signed in four years. That’s fast, in the scheme of things. It also took decades.
Here’s roughly how it all went.
The Tune in Tomorrow Timeline:
June – October, 2017
While waiting for word on my latest novel submission, which was making the rounds with publishers, I reached out to Choice of Games, a text-based online game/interactive novel company, to find out whether I could start telling tales that were also games. I’d met one of their key people (Rebecca) at cons, and she’d always encouraged me and other writers to reach out with ideas. I came up with several, including one called Tune In Tomorrow, which would be a mystery and love story that took place behind the scenes at a soap opera. I’d written for a soap magazine for a bunch of years, I knew the territory. And you gotta know the territory, as The Music Man informed us.
I got the green light to write up an outline. She gave me feedback. Eventually, we had up to four drafts of this outline, but the more granular things got – every choice that was made in the game affected your character and their development – the more my brain started to hurt. So I pulled out – nothing had been signed, no money had been paid – and I ensured the story was still mine, and we gracefully parted company. But by then I’d begun thinking: What if this was a possible novel? I’d never outlined a novel before. Was this what it looked like? And then I went further: What if this was a fantasy novel? And so, Tune In Tomorrow was really born.
October – December 2017
I came up with a first draft. I’d never written a novel so fast before. It was meant to be silly, but romantic, and give you a glimpse behind the scenes at a mythic TV show that looked a lot like a soap opera. I knew how that worked. Write what you know, right?
I shared the story with my writers group and got feedback.
March – May 2018
I sent the novel to my agent, Bridget Smith. Which, really, felt shockingly early. But off it went. She had lots of thoughts, but her best one was to maybe go full in on the ridiculousness. This spoke to me.
July – October 2018
After some early reads, including parts shared with my writers group, I took their feedback to create a second and a third draft. I also contacted a friend and fellow author, Elaine Isaak, who does developmental edits. She was available to help get things into working order, and after some back and forth I got some information I could really work with.
Barbara Krasnoff gave the new version a fresh read and thought it worked.
January – March 2019
My agent gave it a second read. Said that the soap angle might make it a bit tricky for some editors, but she gave it a thumbs up to send around to publishers. Meanwhile, after delays both personal and professional it began making the rounds.
March 11, 2020
Bridget let me know that an editor at Rebellion, Kate Coe, loved the book. Wanted to know if I’d be up for swapping soap opera for more modern elements– streaming, Netflix, etc. Hell, yes.
March 13, 2020
New York City, and thereto the rest of the world, went into lockdown. Things went on pause everywhere.
June 11, 2020
Kate pitched the team at Rebellion/Solaris. See, just because an editor likes your story does not mean they want to publish it. The team has to agree. And it turned out that my agent’s instincts were on the nose: They were also hung up on the hook and wanted more modern references. I decided that reality shows were soap operas (and, y’know, they are), and it made things easier from there.
July 16, 2020
An offer arrived (!)
August, 2020 – February 2021
Contract discussion began. Numbers are updated and negotiated. A boilerplate for my agent’s agency, was in the process of being drawn up to cover multiple deals with other authors going forward, which took more time.
March 11, 2021
One year after the initial offer came through, Kate said she was leaving Rebellion. Yikes!
The good news: I had a new editor, Michael Rowley!
March 23, 2021
All four of us — me, Bridget, Kate and Michael — met on Zoom. Aside from lockdown still kind of happening, they — and the publisher — are UK-based. I said I’d like to see his edits before I go make sweeping changes, and all was well in the world.
May 25, 2021
Then I read the contract and had some very tiny questions. A name change here. A bit of wording there. There was an issue with signing it digitally. So despite wanting to sign with every fiber of my being, I made the most mature decision of my life: I had to send it back for changes.
June 4, 2021
I signed! With relish! And mustard!
The book will be out in Summer/Fall 2022.
July 6, 2021
The announcement is live unto the world, and social media!
And that, folks, is why it takes so long to get a book published. At least, it did for me.
Did I mention I am over the moon?
I hope you are having that kind of good day, too.
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