The 12 Days of a Book Contract (Fa la la)

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Well, tinsel my snowflakes, friends, it’s that time of year and I am deep in the trenches of the holiday concert season. It always tends to go something like, “Yay!!! Holiday music!!!” then, “Yay. Holiday music,” then, “OK, how many performances do I have left?” then, “SING FROSTY AT ME ONE MORE TIME AND I WILL CUT YOUR FACE.”

Luckily, it’s only the first week of December, so I have plenty of festive cheer and good will toward men and Emus left in the tanks. This blog attempts to capture that special, fleeting time between contract and launch — much like those 30 magical seconds between Thanksgiving and Black Friday — and in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to reflect on the gifts large and small that a book contract has offered me. Sing along at home!

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On the First Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

1. Excitement!!!

YAY!! Like, you guys!! MY BOOK! It’s going to be a BOOK! Like for realz!! OMG SO HAPPY!! I have never, ever been this happy about anything ever.

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On the Second Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

2. Deadlines

Wait, I had my entire life to write this book in the first place, and now I have to revise it and write a whole other one? By a date?

On the Third Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

3. Money

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I have some friends who are professional folk singers, and they say, “You want to know the secret to making a million dollars in folk music? Start with two.” Writing is like that. No one should go into writing for the money. But when you’re Ramen noodle poor (. . . or would that be Ramen noodle rich?), a little advance money goes a long way. More importantly, it’s a major psychological boost to have someone say, “I like what you’re doing so much I’m going to give you money to keep doing it.”

We as consumers have the power to say this, too, by buying books or recordings or art. Pretty awesome.

On the Fourth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

4. Crippling anxiety

So, yeah. Surprise! I’ve always had a penchant for hyperventilating in Wal-Mart, but lately any amount of drama or the slightest hint of conflict has sent my brain into overdrive and curled me up into a shifty-eyed ball. Don’t get me wrong — in my shriveled, black heart, I am still deliriously happy about selling a book. But some days I just want to shove the whole thing back into my head and hide it under a squishy pink lobe where no one will ever see it, ever. Then no one will be able to give it bad reviews or say mean things about it on Amazon.

What’s worse is that there’s no escaping it. Every book ever written has been on the receiving end of bad reviews and mean comments, especially in the cold, prickly expanse of Internet. Joyce’s Ulysses has 3.73 stars out of 5 on Goodreads right now. Really. Go look, I’ll wait.

Right? 2,924 people to date have given this book one star. One reviewer claims it “ruined a week at the beach.” Ruined a week at the beach.

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There’s nothing wrong with 3.73 stars or 4.9 stars or 2.14 stars or .08 stars. As my mom says, nothing people say about a book changes even one word of that book. But the fact that I know the hate mail is coming has made my circuits go haywire. 

On the Fifth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

5. Red Bull

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Why did I take this picture?

On the Sixth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

6. Fantasy Math

I’ve never done so much math, and I used to teach math. Little fantasy maths here and there. How much money I would make if my book sold 10,000 copies. 100,000 copies. A million copies. How much money my publisher would be in the hole if my book didn’t sell any copies at all. How many words I need to write every day between Now and Then in order to have This Many Words. How many words I’ve averaged per day since This Date. How much more disposable income I would have if I ate the cats.

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Think of what I’d save on exorcisms alone.

On the Seventh Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

7. Blog interviews

As Tolstoy famously said, “The writing community rocks the house.” I’m so excited to be bouncing around to different blogs, keeping up with other writers and spreading the word about my own upcoming release. It’s super crazy fun, and writers are awesome. The strangest interview I’ve done so far was on a blog where the questions are standard, so even though it’s technically the blog interviewing you, you’re kind of interviewing yourself, and in mine you can totally tell. It’s a bit amusing and informative and lonely and weird all at the same time.

On the Eighth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

8. Sudden Limitless Capacity for Strong Opinions About Minutiae

It’s funny, my editor came to me with a couple kinda big things copyedit-wise, like the name of my protagonist, and I didn’t really care. But HOLY CATS, when my ellipses came under fire, I was ready to take a red pen to the freaking Supreme Court. And don’t you look sideways at that comma on page 9 or I will mess you up.

On the Ninth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

9. Hygiene

The best thing about writing is that it doesn’t have to involve leaving the house, or even the bed. It doesn’t require socks, showers, feeding yourself, or ever changing out of your purple polar bear pajamas. Did I say, “the best thing”? Maybe I just meant, “the thing.” Anyway, I’ve been making more of an effort lately to be presentable, because it’s not just me I’m representing at launches and conferences and workshops, it’s partially The Book as well, and The Book is made up of a lot of people. Some of whom are attractive and sophisticated.

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The Book sings Disney duets at karaoke night instead of “It’s Raining Men” because Classy.

On the Tenth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

10. Fear

The topic of Fear is a popular one here and elsewhere in the writeosphere, so I know you know where I’m coming from, my friends. The unknown is one of the scariest things there is, and getting a book deal (not to mention just writing in general) is like being handed a big fat bag of unknown. Some of the unknown is good, like excitement and anticipation. But the remainder is fear, of disappointing readers, letting my awesome publisher down, failing my awesome agent Joan, screwing up so badly that I destroy my career and possibly the future of publishing in general. We don’t need to dwell on this, but it may be helpful to hear it again. Yep. Writing is scary.

On the Eleventh Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

11. Shorter Conversations About What I Do

Writers write. It’s a pretty easy definition that doesn’t include the word “contract” anywhere at all, and I’ve already written a whole post about this on here. So this one isn’t fair, but there it is. I’ve found that it’s much easier to get to the end of the, “So, what do you do?” conversation if you can say you have a book coming out. The world appears to understand that.

On the Twelfth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

12. New Friends

As we’ve established, the writing community rocks.

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“Launch party at my place. Gonna be epic. Bring your beards!”

Especially, dare I say, the kidlit/YA lit community. Seriously, guys. Everyone is all so nuts and fragile and worried and strange and delightful, and it’s the support of this huge extended writer family that gets me from one sentence to the next. Agent Joan is a total rockstar. St. Martin’s Press is a marvelous place to grow a book. And, of course, I am particularly fond of my fellow Emus, pictured here at an impromptu gathering at an SCBWI conference:

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We are a sexy, sexy bunch.

Fa-la-la-la laaaaaaa, la-la, la, laaaaaaaa! 

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When I was soliciting ideas for this post at my parents’ tree decorating yesterday, my mom’s two glasses of wine shouted, “Remainders!” and then giggled uncontrollably. NOT YET, MOTHER. IT HAS TO COME OUT FIRST.

What about you? What gifts, welcome or otherwise, has the writing life given you? 

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30 Comments

Filed under Agents, Anxiety, Blogging, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Colleagues, Guilt, Happiness, Helpful or Otherwise, rejection and success, Reviews, Writing and Life

30 responses to “The 12 Days of a Book Contract (Fa la la)

  1. OMG!!! This is hilarious. I love you, Adi!!!

    Like

  2. …and hilarity ensued. I wanted to use your leftover ellipses before their expiration date.

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  3. kevanjatt

    Sporadic bouts of confidence.

    You are a hoot, Adi! I loved this post.

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    • It’s funny — I was trying to explain to someone about how every soprano is constantly convinced that she is both ear-bleedingly terrible AND better than everyone else in the room. I think writers have the first bit down, but our divaness comes in fits and starts.

      Like

  4. Adi, your posts are always such a treat. Thanks for starting my day with a huge smile!

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  5. Great post, Adi, and spot on! I seem to be spending a great many days on #4, and have had several #8s as well. I haven’t made it to #9 yet… I’m still in my pajamas. 😉 So thankful for #12, though!

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  6. Oh no… I’m only on #1. Should I perhaps skip to #9 for everyone’s sake?

    PS LOL!!!!

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  7. Joshua McCune

    You mean I won’t get a Ferrari on my book birthday? Shucks.

    Like

  8. Yay for #11.

    And the bearded dudes launch party poster.

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  9. OMG. I am laughing so hard stuff is coming out of my nose. Don’t ask me what stuff. And……………….LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. (But I will buy your book first, and so will a bunch of other people.)

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    • Janet, I can’t undo that mental image! (Is it orange Jell-o? I’m imagining orange Jell-o.)

      Ack, I know this is just the beginning of all the terribleness. But I need to get my psyche through launch before anything else!

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  10. Nicole Valentine

    Hysterical, Adi. “Remainders” – oh Mom… such cruelty.

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  11. So so so true. All of it.

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  12. Laughing all the way! 😀

    It’s all about #12, you guys. Happy happy, merry merry!

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  13. That partridge is shaking in his pear tree and those turtle doves are cowering in their shells (I know they’re really not turtles, but I thought they were when I was a youngsta), and the rest of them….French hens…blah…blah…I know they’re worried cause your version is taking things over. Red Bull trumps five golden rings any day…right???
    Great post, Adi! I am cracking up! Love it!

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  14. Oh, such a great and giggly post, Adi, especially because every single one of us can relate to it. I would add a 2.5, 4.5, or 10.5 for food. You know, the anxiety-induced snacking that accompanies this process. Who knew?

    Like

  15. You are awesome and hilarious. This: “it’s partially The Book as well, and The Book is made up of a lot of people. Some of whom are attractive and sophisticated” made me laugh and snort my coffee. But the whole thing – just awesome. I’m so scared about crappy reviews and letting people down too. Way to lay it all out there, Adi. And your mom sounds like the life of the party. 🙂

    Like

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