For Sale: One Manuscript

“Publishing a book is one accomplishment you get to celebrate over and over.” That’s what my friend Karen’s mom used to say.

You finish the first complete draft. YAY! You finish editing it. You sent it to your agent. YAY! The agent likes it but suggests changes. You finish editing it. YAY! The agent sends it out for sale. A publisher accepts it but suggests more changes. YAY! You finish editing it again. It goes to the printer. It is released. It gets noticed and reviewed. YAY! It sells well. Your advance pays out. You get a royalty check. YAY!

That whole cycle can break down at any point. It often takes years to complete — unless you’ve really pissed off Donald Trump, in which case you zoom straight through to Massive Best Seller, Who Gives a Damn About Reviews, and start negotiations for the mini-series on Netflix, complete with discussions of casting like, What if we can get Harvey Weinstein to play Steve Bannon?

Here’s where Unremembered Lives is right now: My agents sent it out to publishers on Wednesday.

This whole process is a lot like real estate. You decide you’re ready to sell your house. You clean it up, stash stuff in the closets, and call a real estate agent. The agent suggests taking down all the family photos, cleaning out the closets, and getting rid of all the kitsch. You KonMari the hell out of the place.

The agent takes another look and bangs a For Sale sign into the front lawn. There might be an Open House. People who do not love you or your house or your pets or anything about you are now free to troop through it. They open drawers and doors, peer at every aspect of the property with very narrow eyes, and make unflattering remarks about your taste in curtains and flooring.

If you’re lucky, however, someone sees Potential and makes an offer. If you’re even luckier, two or more people make offers, and you have a bidding war. Your agent brings the offer to you, you say yes, a deal memo is drawn up.

There are still a whole bunch of ways the deal can go south. There are details to work out and hoops to jump through, on both sides of the transaction. It can fall through entirely.

I’m a long way from popping corks on champagne bottles at a publication party for Unremembered Lives. I’ve already gone on gone on to something completely different. So, when the time comes, if it comes, the celebration will be a nice gin and tonic at dinner with Don and an early night.

 

 

 

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