Continuing my series, The Evolution of the Book, this is the story of the temporary elation of a book deal that came through from what will be called Huge Publishing House… but this is far from the end of the story. Here’s the original emotion, no awareness at all of the storm clouds overhead…


Okay. Tuesday, as I’m folding laundry and trying to help my son find a snack and start on his homework, I get a phone call. And this person says, Are you busy, is this a good time to talk?

And I say something like, Go ahead, I’m always busy.

And then she says, I’m calling from Huge Publishing House. And like a fairy godmother, she tells me the things I’ve needed to hear for I don’t know how many years – that she loves my writing and my book and the characters – and soon I find I’m not exactly listening because I’m thinking Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.

And then she asks me if I have any questions, and I answer, Oh my God.

And then she says more things and says she’ll actually give me money for my book, and I tell her I love her because I do – it’s that easy to get me to fall in love.

She’s still talking, of course, because that’s the normal thing to do during a phone call, but once again I’m not quite listening because I’m thinking, I wonder if this moment isn’t true? I wonder if this is a cruel dream that I’m about to wake up from or if I’ve gone mad and started hallucinating? And then I hear her ask me to think about the offer and to give her a call, and I tell her I’ve already thought long and hard about it and the answer is yes and please send the contract right away before I wake up.

The problem with phone calls is that, after you hang up, there’s no document you can refer back to that says, Hello this is Huge Publishing House and we love your book and want to buy it. So instead of being happy, which I was – unbelievably so – but only for a moment, I started feeling that more familiar sensation that something I’d wanted so badly would turn out to be a rejection. And it felt like years waiting for some written confirmation that all of this actually happened, and even now it really feels too good to be true.

Those of you who know me well know I have a strange phobia about sharing good news, so in saying all of this, I am going against my belief in The Power of the Jinx, but here goes:

In spring of ’08, or thereabouts, I will actually have a novel coming out. I know the majority of you understand how it is to collect years and years of rejection letters and to hear people around you questioning how you spend your time. After a while, you start to wonder youself if maybe you just suck and you shouldn’t waste your time writing.

What a trip. What an absolutely unbelievable trip to have someone tell you you don’t suck afterall. Man, if I could give that feeling to every one of you . . . .

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SUSAN HENDERSON is the author of UP FROM THE BLUE (HarperCollins, 2010) and founder of the blog, LitPark, a literary playground for writers.

13 responses to “Temporary Ecstasy: The First Book Deal”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    I think there needs to be a jinx-breaker, something like knocking on wood or crossing your fingers, but more so. A Brothers Grimm-esque ‘No Curse We Can’t Reverse’ manoeuvre.

    In the meantime, good work, Susan!

  2. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    The day my novel got the first offer, I attempted to deal with clean laundry and could not do the most basic task—match socks.

    I relate to your reluctance/fear/phobia of sharing good news. I don’t know its source for me, but things have become better in the past few years. The Minor Chords of Doom are no longer the default soundtrack for an otherwise pleasant moment.

    Your spirit and persistence have paid off. September 2010 approaches!!! (Maybe your boys could compose a celebratory anthem.)

    • Susan Henderson says:

      I agree. The Minor Chords of Doom are no longer the default soundtrack. Maybe we’ve grown enough callouses. Or maybe we’ve learned we’re more resilient and dogged than whatever comes our way. 🙂

      (The boys are waiting for the movie deal. I told them if I get one, they can go to http://hiddenpassageway.com/ and pick out a Scooby Doo-type secret room!)

  3. Two words:




    (a few more: what’s the “in the spring of ’08 or thereabouts” part? Or is that fodder for another post?)

    • Susan Henderson says:

      Hey Will. This whole series is 4 years of the rollercoaster ride that was selling my book. This is just a nice view from the top before we go speeding downhill again. So, yes, the first deal was going to get the book released in ’08, and there will be more on what happened there as the series continues…

      Are you going to be at Barbes tonight?

  4. Looking forward to reading this whole roller coaster, Sue. God knows I can relate!

  5. jmblaine says:

    no curse
    for this verse
    & may the hands
    of Huge
    be Guided

  6. what is it with you and me and that jinx thing?

    sheeesh. is it the inside the beltway mentality or just wonder-twindom?

    I’m glad you landed where you did.

    can’t wait!

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