Advice for Writers

My Experience, Part 2: The Story of How I Found a Publisher

My agent had me do quite a bit of editing on the manuscript version of The Notebook, and by late October, the book was finally ready to be presented to publishers. I made 25 copies of the manuscript and shipped them up, second day air, and she got them on a Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, they were going out to publishers. Again, I checked my books on publishing, and they said that I could wait up to six weeks to hear anything, so I decided I wasn’t going to be one of those pesky clients who bother their agents all the time.

On Friday night, though, she called me. “You know,” she said, sort of dragging out the words, “I think we might have something. . . big.”

My eyes boggled as my lips formed around the word. Big. . .big. .  .

I remember hanging up the phone and running out of the house in search of my wife who was taking the kids and dogs for a walk around the block. I caught up to her, and—brushing my fingers along my chest and examining the nails while I sniffed, I said, “I was just talking to my agent,” I said oh-so-nonchalantly, playing it cool, “and she said we might have something. . .  big.”

My wife looked at me, unimpressed. “What does that  mean?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “But it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?”

Before she hung up the phone, my agent asked if I could be home on Monday,  because she was expecting an offer, but since I was selling pharmaceuticals and I had a luncheon for doctors planned that I couldn’t get out of, I told her that I couldn’t stay home, but that I’d check my voice-mail every hour.

My wife and I spent the weekend wondering what “big” might mean. “What if we can pay off the credit-card bills?” she asked. “What if we can get a new car!” I said in response. “It would be like Wheel of Fortune!” Oh, the tension was building. . . building. . . what could it mean? What does big mean?

On Monday, I woke up, put on my lucky suit, and headed off to work with my head spinning. I checked my voice mail at nine o’clock, but no message from the agent. Minutes ticked past, then more, and I checked again at ten o’clock,  expecting something along the lines of, “Well, today’s the day,” or something like that. But there was nothing. So I checked again at eleven o’clock.

Nothing.

By then, my hopes were fading fast, and because of the luncheon, I spent most of the next hour picking up food and setting up the luncheon. By the time I was done and had everything ready, it was noon, and no one had come up for lunch,  yet.

So I picked up the phone, checked my voice-mail, and there was a message from my agent, asking me to call her.

I took a deep breath, hung up the phone, and called my agent in New York.

“Yes?” I said, my mouth going dry.

“Well, just like we thought, we got an offer from Warner Books.”

I closed my eyes.

“And?” I asked.

My agent paused, drawing it out.

“Warner Books,” she said, “would like to offer you one million dollars.”

For a long moment, I couldn’t speak at all as my mind formed around the number. “Big” didn’t do it justice.

As if sensing my hesitation, my agent cleared her throat.

“What do you think?” she asked. She said this as though this sort of thing happened to me every day.

“I think that’s GREAT!!!!!!!” I screamed into the receiver.

And the rest is history. . .

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