It has been said that I am patient. I know that’s true. And it’s a very good thing if you want to be a writer because really, not even immigration is slower than publishing. And it’s slow. Trust me. When we applied for permanent residency in Canada, they received our application, opened it up, cashed the cheque for processing fees, gave us a number, and proceeded to ignore us for twelve more months. And then it was another ten after that before we were good to live here. It took me that long just to get an agent!
Restoring Harmony was sent out right after the 4th of July holiday in 2008. It was probably around the end of August before I asked my agent if he’d heard anything. Not because I wasn’t interested, and not because it hadn’t crossed my mind, but simply because I was pretty darn sure he’d call if anyone, you know…wanted to publish it. He didn’t call, so there wasn’t any news. Seemed simple enough.
I think there might’ve been a few moments where I said to my husband, “Someone is reading my book! How cool is that?” but that was pretty much the extent of it. I just kept working on a new book and stayed busy.
When Michael did finally call in mid-September he said, “How’s your day going?” and I said, “Great!” (my standard answer) and he said, “Well, it’s about to get a whole lot better!” I could practically hear him bouncing in his seat. It was like someone had given him a whole box of his favourite caramels!
He had called to say that we had an offer from Stacey Barney at Putnam and while I was dancing on the inside, I have to admit, I was pretty much my normal calm, cool, and collected self as we spoke (maybe I really am British!). I wrote down the details and asked a lot of questions – I’d had plenty of time to learn all the ins and outs of foreign rights, and I love business, so I asked about all the terms and facts and figures.
We agreed that we wanted to go with Putnam without waiting for a couple other editors to get back from vacation because Stacey had a reputation for being a really fantastic editor and we didn’t want her to think we weren’t excited. The negotiations began. In a couple of hours, after a few back-and-forth phone calls with Michael, him still excited, me still taking notes, we had a deal.
What was so funny was that after it was all sorted out, I got an email from him saying, “Ummm…are you sure you’re okay with all this. You seemed so…well, quiet.” Up until that point, I’d rarely sent him an email without a few !!!!!! He probably had expected me to scream in his ear. Or at least cry!
The thing was, I truly was too stunned to react like I’d just won the book lottery. Nothing more, nothing less. Just completely stunned that not only did someone want to publish my book, but Putnam wanted to publish it. The imprint whose books I have loved for years and years. The imprint who seemed so far out of my league I’d once put them on the “dream list” instead of the “possible imprints that I’d be good at” list. I emailed him back quickly and said: Of course I’m fine! I’m better than fine! I was just totally dumbstruck. Excuse me now while I go find my husband so we can hold hands and skip back and forth across the porch.
And we did. For days. Even now we do it occasionally, just to remember that moment.