Okay, things like this never, ever happen to me. I never have the winning raffle ticket; never walk out of a poker game with more than I came with; never have the pleasure of yelling, “Bingo!”; never pick the winning teams in a football pool; and never win the stuffed animal at the carnival ring toss.
You might think that I’m just being negative, but I tell you truly, with few exceptions I rarely grasp the brass ring. Now a Las Vegas odds maker might conclude that one who always misses the mark will eventually hit pay dirt. The law of averages might suggest that anyone on a bad streak will eventually be a winner. Even the unluckiest guy on the planet gets a payoff once in a while. Any good commissioned salesman knows that every “NO” gets you closer to that “YES”. Well, yesterday was a monster “YES”.
A couple of posts ago I mentioned that my literary agent and editor from Amazon Encore were working on a foreign deal. Remember? I had no lofty expectations about this deal. In fact, based on what I’d heard from the experts, the best I could hope for was a very modest offer with no up-front advance. And believe me, just to find any foreign publisher interested in my novel was beyond anything I could imagine.
Well, yesterday I got an e-mail from my editor and the subject line read: “Exciting Developments”. He went on to say that he wanted to arrange a conference call with my agent and me. We exchanged a few e-mails, coordinated an agreeable time, and in his last e-mail to me, he wrote: “Your life is going to change today.” Can you even begin to imagine what frenzied thoughts were crashing through my brain?
I had two hours to agonize before the call, so I, of course, did what any insane person would do and tortured myself with the “what-if-game”. Was it an offer from a foreign publisher? Maybe a filmmaker was interested? Did I get a great review from the New York Times? I thought of every possible scenario—or so I thought—but not in my wildest dreams was I prepared for what my editor would tell me.
When I telephoned in to the conference call, my editor didn’t waste any time with small talk or segue slowly into the crux of what had developed. Without skipping a beat, he said, “A foreign publisher (not free to reveal the country or publisher’s name at this time), has made you an offer. It’s a two-book deal with an advance of (I can’t tell you this either, but let me just say that I needed a nitroglycerin pill). You get ¼ when you sign the contract, ¼ when they publish the first novel, ¼ when you produce the second manuscript and ¼ when it’s published.”
Originally, when we first heard of their interest in my novel, they hinted of a sequel, but I never really expected it would be part of the deal. Nor did I expect the advance to be more than a pittance. When I hung up the telephone, the only words I could muster were, “Oh my God!” I haven’t written even a single word of the sequel; it only lives in my head. And it’s merely a loosely sketched outline. What if they don’t like it? What if it’s not as good as the first novel? What if I get a case of chronic writer’s block? The psychobabble has begun. Needless to say, I need to get my act together and get to work. For years I’ve dreamed about a successful writing career, but never thought I’d be writing against the clock. Holy crap. What have I gotten myself into?