So there has been AN DEVELOPMENTE in the old LETTING PEOPLE READ MY RITING gig, which as we know, is still new and weird (more on that later): My indefatigable, tireless, and supportive agent Michael Curry sold my novel!
Details here at the Solaris website.
And here’s the Publisher’s Marketplace screenshot that I was sent, which was just as exciting, because OFFICIAL!
(It’s funny, I always used to wonder how people were posting their book announcements to social media — did everyone have a subscription to Publisher’s Weekly/Marketplace except me? But now I realize that agents might be subscribed to such a thing, and might share them with their clients. THE MORE YOU KNOW.)
Even funnier, to me at least, when I got the email about the offer, I was in Victoria with two of my friends, hanging out in our AirBnB after a long day out, and actually reading ‘Raven Stratagem’ by Yoon Ha Lee on my phone (by the way, a great book, great series) which is also by Solaris! I have decided that this is Fate and is Meaningful in some way.
The original Solaris announcement actually included my joke ‘bography’ that I sent my new editor (because I had tweeted about never sending a biography again, after making a typo in a previous email about my bography), which read as such:
“This house, which is a very fine house, may indeed be made out of peat, which is flammable; but it will not burn down, as it is soaked in slightly acidic water. I, being a bog creature, mainly subsist on cranberries and frogs, but will also eat stray children if they approach too closely. Visitors are welcome, if they come bearing food and seeking wisdom; if they come bearing wisdom and seeking food, they will likely be eaten by my bog-bear. That is the official policy and anyone who mislikes it is welcome to seek out a swamp or, God forbid, a fen.”
I never expected them to use it in the actual announcement, because it was just a private joke with David, and was floored when it came out on Friday morning and it was in there. And then I requested that it be changed to my real bio, and immediately felt like a humourless bog (maybe fen) troll. On the other hand, enough people think I’m a giggling idiot that I sometimes do feel that I have to push back and say ‘No, this one time I’d like to look slightly professional please.’ Just once!
Also, there was an announcement in the very prestigious Locus Magazine! Which was very exciting also, though they (apparently; I haven’t seen a screenshot) spelled my name wrong. It’s too late to fix, so I find myself in a quiet and constant very low-level rage of misery about it. This is going to keep happening, I know it is. I mean, for probably… years. People can spell ‘easy’ ethnic names like Liu or Singh, but when it comes to my last name, it’s like there’s a crossed wire in the brain saying ‘JUST SPELL IT HOWEVER, THERE’S A MILLION SPELLINGS OUT THERE.’ Yes, that’s quite true, but mine is still a relatively simple seven letters and it makes it hard to find me in search results when everybody spells it differently. I wish there were some way around this other than changing my last name to Smith. (And never mind my first name; I’ve seen everything there, too. I should change that too. Something easy to spell. BOB SMITH.)
The novel went on sub in March last year, and we got the offer in April this year, so it was out there for just over a year. Which I am given to understand is smack in the middle of the normal distribution in things being on sub, after trying to commiserate with friends (by the way, this was a mistake) and hearing things like ‘Don’t worry, mine was on sub for five years before it sold, a year is nothing’ as well as ‘Really? Mine was on sub for two weeks before it sold, a year is terrible.’ After I was done stabbing some pins into wax effigies, I wrote a blog post about it on my Curious Fictions page (for subscribers only, sorry; but I really like the way that post turned out!).
The next step, I guess, is to re-read and edit! I’m hilariously, semi-jokingly nervous about it. I’ve never, uh, how you say, ‘been edited’ before, not strenously anyway. I tend to turn in very clean copy for my short stories in terms of spelling and typos and grammar and whathaveyou, so in that sense the only edits I often get are exhausted comments begging me to break up some of my more baroque run-on sentences (“No”), and sometimes plugging an obvious and egregious plot hole (“FIIIINE”), but honestly, to date, I’ve been very lightly edited, and indeed, up till 2015 when I started submitting stories places, I had never really let anyone read my fiction except my friend MHK. I’m slowly growing concerned that this may turn out to be a bad thing, even though I’m truly eager to work with David and tear this book apart and turn it into the best thing it can possibly be, now that I have the resource of working with someone who’s been in the biz for a while and edited some wonderful books.
I actually like editing and revising; I like the process of peering through a magnifying glass as well as a telescope, getting the big picture and the little picture, going at it with a flamethrower as well as a scalpel. But the closest analogy I can think of for this is that for an inadvisably long time while I was in grade school, there was a policy that if you were getting a certain grade on your day-to-day work (85 or 90% or something), you didn’t have to take your year-end final exams. So for literally years I would go by not being tested in the same way as my peers, and then when I got to university I was like OH NO, WHAT THE HELL IS A TEST. There was a very steep and very short learning curve that first year. I’ve never had crit partners or beta readers, I’ve always edited all my own stuff from flash to query letters to 180,000 word novels (all right, it’s a half novel, but anyway, I’ll fix it later), so when we combine the need to properly edit this novel with my lifelong propensity to be a desperately consistent people-pleaser, I hope we don’t either end up with word salad or I quit writing forever.
A few thoughts about the book — I started it when I was about eighteen (second-year university) and finished when I was about 20, just after I graduated, so the fact that the characters are so young is directly related to how old I was while I was writing it. And the language reflects that too, which I suppose David and I will have to spend about 200 years fixing. Before I queried, I did polish it up and rewrite some sections; I had to divorce it entirely from a similar but (honestly) completely different novel with the same characters, in which the evil-dealer is the straight-up Devil himself, plus associated demons, and they end up in a much different kind of trouble (also, actual Hell). (Although, that Nick ended up in my short story ‘The Devil’s Apprentice’ in the ‘No Shit, There I Was’ anthology!).
Anyway. Very exciting! This entry is already getting way out of control, too. Next time, possibly:
Why the book was set when it was being written and couldn’t be edited to be set now (cell phones being the least of this)
The shared universe
Thoughts on sequels, trilogies, and publishing’s attitude towards series vs. standalones
How I celebrated and why I have so many dang feels about it