This post should really be called getting the email, or as it turned out, email(s). I had been working with my wonderful agent, Camilla Wray at Darley Anderson, for almost two years when we had the news that the team at HQ wanted to publish The Doll House. I remember exactly where I was when I first got the news – in the middle of chairing a panel at the London Book Fair 2017. It was hot, I was pretty tired after a day of meetings for my day job, and I was only looking at my phone to check I hadn’t gone overtime on the panel I was meant to be in control of!
I’d met with Camilla earlier that day, and afterwards, I’d felt a bit despondent. Not because of anything she’d done, but because we were talking about book 2, and in my mind I still just felt so sad that we hadn’t sold book 1. The submissions process had been up and down, with some near misses and straight-up rejections, and at that stage I think we both knew it was over. Or so we thought, anyway.
A few hours later, I had an email from Camilla, who had just been on the phone to HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins. Her email actually began with the words, ‘this is a bit of a curve ball’ and went on to say that an editor from HQ’s digital-first imprint had been thinking about the book for months and would like to meet for a coffee. Camilla’s tone was very positive, and I hardly let myself dare to hope that this was the news we had been waiting for. I could only see the first part of the email because I was sneakily looking at my phone mid panel, but I could sort of sense the excitement coming through in my hot little hand.
Once out of the panel, I got the chance to read the whole thing – a chain of emails between Camilla and HQ, saying such lovely things about my book. It was so exciting, but again I didn’t dare do the jump for joy just yet.
A week or so after that, I went to Australia on a pre-booked holiday (by that stage I didn’t really want to go, I wanted to stay and find out what was happening with my book!) but once there I let the sunshine and koala hugs wash over me and tried to keep calm and leave London behind for two weeks. Every time I logged into the dodgy hostel WiFi my heart jumped though; I was terrified that HQ would change their minds and I’d get an email telling me that the whole thing was off.
But it wasn’t off – it was very much on. When I got back to London, Camilla and I went out for lunch with the brilliant HQ editors and discussed all things Doll House. As an editor, I often take authors out like this so it was so strange to be on the other side of things!
After a few more weeks in which I hopped around my life like an agitated bunny, I got the email with my official author contract attached. Seeing my name in print like that was truly the most amazing feeling, and I stared at it for a long time thinking of how long I had waited for this moment. Then I thought I had probably better sign it, so I scribbled my name and crossed my fingers, then took it back over to my editor along with several boxes of chocolates to say a huge thank you.
For me, starting out on the road to publication wasn’t an easy process, but I am so glad I persisted and I hope that anyone reading this will do too. Writing a book, getting an agent, and going out on submission is not for the faint-hearted: there will (unless you are very, very lucky) be rejection and disappointment along the way, and even once the contract is signed there are a whole new host of worries to start thinking about, but if you have a dream, please keep going. You never know what will happen, and I promise you will be glad you did.