Hooked’s Big News
(Hang on, sweeties… We’re going to take the scenic drive.)
On February 22, after meticulously shepherding my proposal through revision after revision, my agent Pamela pronounced it ready to shop. “Let’s go,” she wrote. Time passed in a dizzying blur. I couldn’t have dreamed the response we’d get. Multiple publishers courting Hooked? From our respective sides of the country, I followed Pamela’s frequent updates in a cloud of disbelief.
Remember I mentioned cutting back on coffee? That was because I was utterly out of my head before every phone call with a potential editor. Shaky hands, sweaty palms, knotted stomach. To calm down, I wrote myself pep talks like this:
Freaking the fuck out, I am. Twenty minutes ‘til I’m scheduled to call X, who wants to talk about Hooked’s structure. I can do that. I can do this. This doesn’t have to be scary. Hooked is going to have a home… It may be with X, it may be with someone else, but I have to be able to discuss it – to sell it, to show my confidence in the story and myself as its writer – even when I feel this shaky. Seriously, get it together, sweetie.
Friends beamed excitement. I mostly felt like the universe was handing me a golden egg, and my hands were coated in Crisco. A precious, priceless shell; my book incubating inside. Please don’t drop it. I wondered how I could keep this fragile gift from slipping through such greasy fingers, shattering, spattering my face with the yolk of defeat.
Despite my anxiety, those phone calls were genuinely enjoyable. Each editor voiced generous enthusiasm and asked insightful questions, honing in on a different thread. Each forced me to articulate my vision verbally – not my natural strength – and made me consider Hooked through a new lens. They all made me laugh. Every time I hung up, I marveled at the respect, joy, and love that each editor held for books and their task in bringing them to life. Hooked would be in skilled, smart hands with any one of them.
I polled writer friends, those who’d already been down this road and those soon to follow. How had they known that a particular editor/publisher was the right one? What would they base their decision on? How would I know I’d made the right decision?
As someone who remembers clearly the childhood lessons of being picked last – or not at all – the hardest part of this process was saying “no” to people who would clearly devote their best work to Hooked.
Saying “yes,” however, was very easy. Two things made it so.
Of the four editors I spoke with, only one used the f-word – feminist – when talking about my work. That mattered.
What also mattered: knowing myself. As much as I want to be a low maintenance, self-possessed writer, in this situation I am not that cool cat. This publishing business is a shiny new world that leaves me feeling young and uncertain. Of course it does – how could it not? But my learning curve will be eased by partnering with a small literary press that will have the time and patience to raise not only Hooked, but also its author.
I’m delighted – over the moon! – to tell you that Hooked has a home with editor Sarah Stein at Riverhead Books. I’m a longtime fan of Riverhead; their values resonate with me. I’m honored to join them.
(Honored? More like stunned, intimidated, awed, thrilled, giddy with disbelief.)
As soon as she heard the news, my sister Sara texted, “It’s like Tele’s version of finding out she’s pregnant!” I laughed out loud at her analogy’s perfect resonance. As an avowed non-breeder, this book is indeed the life I’m compelled to create and share. She added, “Now comes the labor. If you ever need a doula, I’m here for you!”
Again, her words were spot-on. Hooked will have a long, intensive labor. I’ve got about a year (minus the fishing season) to deliver a draft I’m proud of. And Hooked will need many doulas – including you. Your readership, comments, and unfailing support have been an essential part of our journey thus far. Though there’s much work ahead, please join me in celebrating this weekend. I’ll be raising a glass (Martinelli’s sparkling cider, ‘cause I’m tame like that) to all of us!