Hey everybody. It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I *do* have a big ole juicy post coming up soon, featuring such crowd-pleasing topics as nostalgia, bears, self-reliance, krummholz, sex in tents, grief and Sour Patch Kids.
But this is just a quickie to share some news I am exorbitantly happy about: My new novel, The Society of Shame, is going to be published in early 2023 by Anchor Books.
I got the news from my agent that they’d made an offer back at the very end of August, while sitting on a dock on Squam Lake (pictured) eating cheese and drinking wine. (I mean, even getting bad news on a dock like this wouldn’t be so bad, amiright?) It was a pretty magical moment.
But it didn’t feel really and truly real until the other day, when it was officially announced in Publisher’s Marketplace. The screenshot of such an announcement, while not nearly as lovely as a picture of a dock on Squam Lake, is nevertheless, something every writer dreams of posting on the internets. (When I sold my last book, my memoir Double Time, I never got the screen shot. That fact haunts me to this day just kidding.)
If you’ve been following my ramblings for a while, you may recall that the last novel I wrote—which I worked on for five long years—did not sell. That blew big time. No way around it. But I (eventually) dusted myself off, and got back up on the horse. I wrote a very different kind of novel, much more quickly, and had a blast doing it. And, as luck would have it, it worked out this time.
I want to emphasize the “luck” piece here, because I think it’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough when it comes to publishing. (Or anything, really, but let’s stick with publishing for now.) Yes, writing a good book does matter. Perserverance, discipline and a dash of insanity help, too. But I think it’s so important for non-writers—and aspiring writers—to know that there are legions of wonderful books out there that never find homes.
Not because they didn’t deserve to be published, but because they didn’t happen to fall into the hands of an acquiring editor who thought they would be commercially viable. Or they did, but the marketing department or the higher-ups disagreed, or thought it was too similar to something else the press had just published. Or perhaps a given book fell into the hands of an editor who otherwise would have loved it, but she was going through a terrible divorce, and on the day she happened to start reading it, she was in a really bad place emotionally, and maybe also had diarrhea, and probably wouldn’t have liked anything she read.
And, fun fact for non-writers, or writers who haven’t gone through the submisison process: An agent can only submit to one editor per publisher per book. So if, say, Editor Edna going through the bad divorce at Little Brown turns down your book, your agent can’t then go to her colleague, happily married Editor Elizabeth, to see if maybe she likes it.
So. You see why it’s not just a matter of “if you perservere, eventually you will succeed!” or “every good book will find a home!” or “When you wish upon a star….”? (Great song, btw. The Jiminy Cricket rendition makes me tear up every time.) In truth, it’s a matter of: if you perservere AND the stars that you wish on happen to align, maybe your good book will find a home.
All this is to say that while I am proud of myself for not giving up, and for writing what I think is a pretty darned good book, I also feel lucky as hell. And it is a lovely feeling indeed.
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