Monthly Archives: January 2011

After the Book Deal

In May of 2010 I posted two short essays on the Black Gate web site about something that had been a kind of holy grail for me: obtaining a book deal with a major publisher. That first essay is about the power of making connections; the second concerns itself more with the specifics of my own novel contract. In this third essay I thought I’d talk a little about what happened once the book contract was signed.

The advice you usually hear is to not quit your day job, so you may be wondering why I did so, since, as I previously mentioned, I was not awarded a gold-plated limousine with my new book deal. I have a spouse with a good income, and my advance was more than I would make in a year teaching as an adjunct professor at the local university, so my wife and I decided to have me try writing full time to see how it would all pan out. It is not as great a gamble as it might be for someone with a more permanent position, as I can always return to teach more adjunct classes.

In January I began to draft the promised second book. I continued to work away at it until I got the chance to submit a book proposal to a brand new novel line at Paizo. I had enjoyed my communications with Paizo’s Erik Mona and James Sutter during my years at Black Gate, and I’d thought highly of their game products, so I tossed my hat in the ring. The result was another book offer, which has kept me so busy for the summer that I pretty much disappeared from the Black Gate board. I have enjoyed working with the Paizo folks, but I thought I’d stay focused today about the steps of novel deal one.

Signing the Contract

Last week I wrote about obtaining my first book deal. Over the next few months I thought I’d talk from time to time about what happens next.

As the point of my first essay was mostly about the importance of contacts (and in working steadily and not giving up), I mentioned some things in passing that I thought I’d cover in more detail. For instance, how did I get the offer? By air mail? Phone call? Candygram?

My friend Scott Oden had submitted my manuscript to his editor at Thomas Dunne Books, Pete Wolverton. A little over three weeks later, I received an e-mail from Pete asking me to give him a call at my convenience.

When I’d sent previous novels to other publishers, at best I had only ever received pleasant e-mail rejections, or, in olden times, a letter. Sometimes my novels had just disappeared, with nary a response at all. I had never received a request to call, and with Sherlockian-like deductive reasoning figured that was a promising sign.

I deliberately slowed down, made myself a cup of tea, and took my time drinking it. About twenty minutes later I dialed the number Pete had provided.

How to Get a Book Deal

In late July of 2009 I got an offer for a historical fantasy novel from St. Martin’s imprint Thomas Dunne featuring my series characters, Dabir and Asim. The deal itself reads anti-climatically, which is why I delayed posting about it. But I think that there’s something to be learned from the story of publication, so I’ve decided to share it.

I finished revising a book, I gave it to a friend, he showed it to his editor, I got an offer, I talked to agents of two writer friends, agonized about which agent to select, then chose one. Boiled down, the process sounds simple; after all, I’m just one of those lucky guys who wrote a novel and showed it to a friend, then got a book deal after just a few weeks from the first pro who looked at it. Easy as pie, right? This account of events manages to miss a couple of things.

The deal happened fast – if you leave off the year of drafting, and that I knew the characters of the novel so well because I’d been writing short stories about them for nine years. Then there’s the fact that before this book deal are twenty preceding years of sending other novels out to publishers and agents and collecting rejections… I honestly am not sure how many novels I’ve written before this. Sometimes they’d been rewritten so many times that each draft was a completely different animal (and one that still got rejected). It’s taken me a lot longer to get here than I would have liked, but I have to say, I appreciate it far much more than I would have if I’d just fallen into it. Apparently I’m not a fast learner, but I am really stubborn.