Thursday, September 20, 2007

Making It Official*

*(Or As Seen In Publishers Marketplace, which is the title Evil Kev preferred.)

Normally, what happens in the book world is that someone writes a manuscript. They then try to find an agent, which is usually a lengthy process. Send out queries. Some politely tell you basketweaving might still be an option, or something of that nature. Maybe some invite you to submit more, and you do. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the average search time for an agent is six months. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it’s more like nine to twelve.

And if you do find an agent with that first work, the next phase will depend on the agent. Either they’ll expect it to be letter perfect and ready to sell before they consider signing it, or they’ll give you their own editing notes. You’ll need to write a pitch, possibly build up your resume with other publishing credits, etc. It all depends. Then comes the shopping phase. And this is not the kind of shopping women are said to love. It’s the kind that will make you pull your hair out. You’ll get the polite rejections. Perhaps some not-so-polite rejections. Possibly some requests for full manuscripts. And it all takes time. I wouldn’t even hazard a guess at the average length of the shopping phase, although my suspicion is that it’s comparable to the agent search. It really depends on a lot of things: luck and timing. Crossing the right editor’s desk at the right time…

This is why the rule is, write the book, get it out there, and get on with the next one. Believe me, every writer soon understands hurry up and wait. It’s the way the business is.

And once you do get signed, it’s not uncommon for it to be as much as two years before your book will actually see print.

That’s about normal.

Of course, we all know there’s not much that’s normal about me.

After some communication with an agent, he asked to read my latest ms. Four days later he offered representation. Six weeks later, the manuscript had been polished by me and I’d edited it again with notes from him. And then began one of the most nerve-wracking stages of my writing career as I waited for updates.

Let me tell you something. No matter how much you know that you’ll drive yourself mad doing that, you still end up doing it, and you really do go mad.

One week later I heard the first publisher had requested a full.

It wasn’t long before another publisher had asked for more… and by then I was starting to receive the rejection letters as well.

After a few months I was a nervous wreck. I knew by then at least one publisher was seriously looking at the book, and my nerves were shot from the agony over every email. Would this one bring news of an offer? Or was this the one where they’d send me packing?

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how it felt to get the news about the offer. Of course, you’re doing the polite professional thing, all That’s wonderful, and what are the details, blah blah blah when you’re alternating between wanting to scream and feeling as though you’ll pass out.

Imagine all that nervous energy building up in your body for a few months, the cord pulled as tight as it can go and then someone lets go of the other end. Knees like jelly.

It was nice that the deal offer came, in the grand scheme of things, quickly. A year ago I didn’t have an agent. Hell, just a bit more than seven months ago I didn’t even have an agent.

And now, I can go on the record that I have a new book deal.

Now, this is just more proof of how unusual this is. I know people who’ve had book deals who haven’t been able to go public for five months, waiting for the deal to be finalized and for everything to be official. Most authors will tell you that the announcement is delayed gratification, sometimes several months after the deal is done. That thing you were excited about that you weren’t allowed to talk about is finally public, and you’re no longer excited because you’re freaking out about your edits.

And people wonder why authors drink.

Well, in keeping with how unusual things have been, I’ve known about this for almost two months, but even that’s a relatively short window of time for this phase. However, because (as we’ve established) nothing is normal for me, my book is not coming out in 2009. It’s not even coming out in late 2008. No. Seven months ago I was still trying to figure out what to call this book, and now I can tell you that What Burns Within will be out in May, from Dorchester.

What this means is, one of the first things I was asked was whether or not I had ideas for the cover. The next thing I had to do was ask around for blurbs, because the cover design had to be finalized right away. The second book in the deal is due in October, which meant I had to finish writing it, and then there are the WBW edits…

But I am excited about finally being able to update my blog, and my website.

Some of you were commenting yesterday on the new look, and I must admit, it was a bit of a pain to get in place. I wanted my blog to be as similar to my website as possible, without being hard to read. The photo used is one I took of downtown Vancouver, from Stanley Park. Now, the blog fits more with the new series, which is a police procedural series set in the Greater Vancouver Area, and as regular readers here know, there’s no shortage of material to work with when it comes to BC’s lower mainland.

What else can I tell you? Well… there are a few people who’ve already had a chance to read What Burns Within and this is what a few of them have to say:

"A taut, crackling read with switch-blade pacing."
- Rick Mofina, internationally best-selling author of A PERFECT GRAVE

"Sandra Ruttan writes with utter ferocity. Twists and turns that stun and dialog that absolutely crackles with wit and authenticity. With each page, Ruttan delivers the goods. WHAT BURNS WITHIN is a nonstop chiller of a mystery that keeps you turning the pages."
- Gregg Olsen, New York Times Bestselling Author of A WICKED SNOW

"When we talk of the next generation of great crime fiction writers Sandra Ruttan's name is near the top of the list. WHAT BURNS WITHIN has a compelling clockwork plot that comes together with Swiss precision but it's the real, sympathetic and utterly human characters that infuse it with depth and power. WHAT BURNS WITHIN is a stunning book. Not only is this the start of a great series but more importantly it's the start of a long and successful career. Sandra Ruttan is one to watch."
- Brian Lindenmuth, Mysterybookspot

You know, it’s the simple things that get me most in all of this. An email from a fan of the work, saying they loved SC. Writers I admire putting their stamp of approval on my book. Just getting the chance to put words on a page.

And now being able to actually tell the people who’ve been asking when my next book will be out that WBW will be out next year. Yeah… that feels pretty damn good.

42 comments:

angie said...

Yay, Sandra! That's just super-fab news - can't wait for the book next spring!

Austin Carr said...

Zowie! Super reviews and blurbs, Ms. S. When can we order a copy?

Chris said...

That is HUGE! CONGRATULATIONS!

sandra seamans said...

Watch out for flying Champagne corks!! Congratulations!!! That's excellent news.

JT Ellison said...

Congratulation, Sandra!!! Brilliant news. Enjoy the ride!

Mystery Dawg said...

GReat News. You teased us all with your excellent first book and now we can have more. Congratulations!

Aldo

Randy Johnson said...

How many flips did you finish across the room? A lot I'll bet. Congrats! I'm ready to order when it's available.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Angie.

Austin... I don't know! I think the pre-orders usually start 4 or 5 months before release.

Thanks Chris. Thanks Sandra - I'm only aiming for Evil Kev, so hopefully nobody else will be caught in the crossfire.

JT, thanks, and you must be excited. It was about 18 months ago that your book deal was announced and the first one is finally about a month away.

Aldo, thank you. Glad you liked the first book.

Randy, no backflips. I'd be worried about getting stuck mid-flip!

Thanks everyone, for all the support.

JamesO said...

Whoop Whoop!

That's great news, Sandra. Excellent.

I'm insanely jealous;}#

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is such terrific new and so soon. And this was a timely post for me as you can imagine. Yay!

norby said...

Congrats Sandra!!

Brian said...

Hooray.

Been waiting for the official announcement.

On an unrelated note I thought of you the other day. There was a bumper sticker that said "If your not aggravated then your not paying attention"

Check your inbox for something funny.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Sandra - Betty

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks James - I have my fingers crossed for you.

Patti, you'll kick ass. I have complete confidence!

Thanks Norby and Betty, and Brian, LOL. I love emails that make me laugh!

Anonymous said...

Super news for a super girl. xxx chel.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks chel. It's still surreal.

Amra Pajalic said...

Congratulations. I'm so happy for you. And the blog looks gorgeous. You're spot on with the agent hunt. It took me 9 months to get confirmation with my agent. At least it's great preparation for the submission process.

James Goodman said...

That's awesome, Sandra. Congrats!!!!! :D

*\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/*

Sandra Ruttan said...

Amra, thanks, and glad you liked the blog. Nine months - it's grueling, isn't it? I realized that the release times are usually something like 18 months after signing initially, for newer authors especially, but when I did the math this week I realized it's less than 9 months until WBW comes out. Just under 8, I believe. Now, that's surreal.

James, lol. Love the graphics. For a moment I thought that was your rendition of my attempt at backflips.

Loreth Anne White said...

Congrats, Sandra -- just saw the news in Publisher's Marketplace and came right on over to find you. I'm a BC local, have lived in Vancouver for many years and now live in Whistler, so I was super excited to see a locally-set crime novel. Can't wait to read it!

evil kev said...

A long awaited second step in what will be a long and successful career. I know you're going to be a shining star.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Loreth, the book is set in the Tri-Cities. It will be fun to set out the lay of the land for those not familiar with the GVA. I used to live in New Westminster, a stone's throw from where New West, Burnaby and Coquitlam intersect, with a view into Coquitlam from my balcony. Now I'm able to mention places I know and love, and I also put characters in book 2 living on the street my best friends live on in PoCo. I love the area, and of course, hope to take full advantage of the Olympics and other issues relevant to the GVA. The nice thing about using the RCMP is that I can move characters around easily, and they are dealing with Olympic security...

And the other nice thing is being able to visit the coast and call it a business expense. Evil Kev and I miss it. (I also lived on a Gulf Island for three years and Van Isle for one.)

Evil Kev, I'll write you a cheque... ;)

M. G. Tarquini said...

The reason writers drink is on my blog.

Congratulations, Sandra! I'm so happy for you!

Oh, and that whole agent hunt thing...blech.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Mindy, just wait for the shopping phase. You know Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Except there'll be more than three bears, and they'll tell you why you don't fit.

And then there's the waiting for reviews...

Grant McKenzie said...

Huge congratulations, Sandra. That's wonderful news. I'm just starting the shopping phase for my latest ms.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Grant, and you have my deepest sympathies. I hope it flies by for you, with a big celebration at the end.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Smack, smack, smack. That's the sound of me patting you on your back.

Excellent news, biggest congratumalations!

Christa M. Miller said...

Adding my "Way to go!!" to everyone else's. You rock, and I can't wait for May!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Aw, thanks Daniel. I think you readjusted my spine. ;)

And thanks Christa. Considering how cold it's been the last few days, I can't wait for May either!

Patricia said...

Way to Go! You must be over the moon...I know this is the start of something big

DesLily said...

Wow! Congratulations Sandra!! ..and to think I found you before your first book came out! It's so nice to see that some dreams do come true!

Jamie Ford said...

Woot! Congrats Sandra!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Patricia, thanks, hope you're right.

Deslily! Nice to see you. And yes, you're one of the longest standing visitors around here, and you've just reminded me I haven't dropped by Bill's blog in a while!

Hi Jamie, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Sandra - great news.

Hoping it will also be out in the UK next Spring. Can't wait!

Mary

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Mary. You can get Dorchester books in the UK, and I'll see if I can find out when they get them there and keep you posted!

Susan Flemming said...

It's been a while since I've done a tour of the blogs and it was so nice to come here and find this news. Congratulations Sandra! And I look forward to reading your new book.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Hey Susan - that was fortunate timing! Nice to see you, and thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

HURRAH for you!!

**happy dance with sparkly high heels and a top hat /cane combo)

And with the Canuck buck at par, I suppose you can ask to be paid in CDN dollars.

;-)

Bardawill

Sandra Ruttan said...

E,

I'm really hoping the dollar will depreciate by the time the money's clearing, because then my advance will increase! Damn US dollar!

S

Eileen said...

HUGE congrats on a well deserved sale. I can't wait to read this- and I love the setting. Next time you're in the lower mainland for research I'll buy you that drink that publishing is causing both of us to need.

D.A. Davenport said...

Congratulations, Sandra. What a fabulous and terrifying ride you've had! Can't wait to read the new book.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Eileen, and I can't wait for my next research trip! And your book and our drinks!

And thanks DA. Fortunately - or is it unfortunately? - I don't think I'm alone in the 'fabulous and terrifying ride' thing. I think it's par for the course...