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Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 11:59:58 +0100
Subject: The Whole World 2
Hi all–More news about The Whole World!
First of all, thanks to those who asked questions. (Hi, Stephanie!) I’ll
keep answering questions in this newsletter, so ask whatever you’re
Thanks to those who checked out my website, especially Joann for
catching the formatting errors in my excerpt (my cut-and-paste had
stripped out the em dashes, glomming some words together). Don’t be shy
about pointing out things I can fix or improve! I appreciate it.
Apologies for having failed to BCC the recipient list in my first email.
I’m still getting the hang of this, but I think I got it right this time…
The *website* is and will continue to be in flux. My editor has asked me
to take down the excerpt until the book is in its “final version.” I’ll
let you know as I add new things (I’m working on a “book trailer” at the
moment, which is a bit like a movie trailer. In my case, it’s a flash
slideshow. I’ll send a link when I have it ready.)
Totally *weird coincidence*: My sister has two homes, one of them a
lovely apartment in New York City. When I’ll be visiting New York to
meet with my editor, it makes sense for me to stay there. Is it
conveniently located to the Bantam Dell offices? Uh, yes! Actually, in
*the same building*. Yes, my sister lives above Random House headquarters.
Gosh, this has been a busy week! On Saturday, I ran all over town trying
to complete outfits to wear to fancy London restaurants. My usual mommy
clothes would not do.
On Sunday I met my US agent, Cameron, and my US editor, Kate, at
*Bibendum* in London. It’s a lovely French restaurant in the Michelin
building, with odd stained-glass windows of the Michelin Man riding a
bike and smoking a cigar. This was my first time meeting Kate in person,
so we mostly just got to know each other by telling funny anecdotes
about home buying and commuting, and, on her end, about authors behaving
hilariously badly. I had fantastic octopus-and-chick-pea salad. Now when
my two-year-old sees a picture of a train (I took the train into London that
day), he says “Mommy eat octopus!”
I went to the *London Book Fair* on Wednesday, it’s third and last day.
These book fairs (the biggest of which are Frankfurt, London and Book
Expo America) happen every year. They’re for publishers to get
booksellers excited about new books, and for agents to get foreign
publishers interested in their clients’ books. Writers don’t really have
a purpose here, unless they are among the chosen few set up to do a
reading or a signing. I was just there to wander and observe. Despite
its grid layout and alphabetic/numerical booth organization system, I
got lost many times. My big discovery was that there were benches in row
H (and only in row H). I spent lots of time in row H
Meanwhile, upstairs at the Fair is the *International Rights Centre*.
The flashy downstairs booths are the publishers. These plain beige
tables upstairs are for the agents. They have meetings all day long, one
after another, with foreign pubs mostly. Cameron was there, pushing the
agency’s books, including mine. One doesn’t expect a deal to be struck
at the Fair–one is there to intrigue and find out who’s interested in
being sent what manuscripts. Burly guards flank the escalators to the
IRC to prevent uninvited writers from disturbing the agents. I had a
ticket, and felt very special.
That night I had dinner with Cameron and my UK agent, Meg. This was my
first time meeting Meg, so it was once again an all-important first
impression. We got along beautifully, and she had lots of interesting
things to say about television writing (she represents TV and film
writers as well as novelists), including she and I regaling Cameron with
the storyline of the M*A*S*H finale, which Cameron was too young to have
watched. We ate at the *BAFTA* (British Academy of Film and Television
Arts) private club, sitting in enormos red velvet chairs. I mentioned
how special this is to me, and Meg said, matter of factly, “Why? You
live near, don’t you? Of course we’ll be eating here again.” I love this
feeling of being supported for a whole future career, not just this one
The *contract* has been signed. It is fifteen (legal sized!) pages long,
which were faxed to me. Just imagine the dense wording and
near-illegible printing. Gavin, despite simultaneous flu, earache and
laryngitis, helped me review the pages and come up with more than twenty
questions. Cameron and I talked for two and a half hours helping me
understand the answers.
Interesting things I’ve learned:
Bantam Dell have exclusive rights to the English-language version in the
U.S. and Canada. That means that they, and only they, can sell The Whole
World in English in those two places.
Should we make a UK sale, that UK publisher will have exclusive rights
to the English language version in the UK and Commonwealth (minus
Canada). The Commonwealth includes Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,
etc. For the full list of Commonwealth countries, see
The US and UK pubs would BOTH have *non-exclusive* rights to sell the
English language version everywhere else. This means that in Europe, the
US English language version and the UK English language version would
compete against each other.
(Keep in mind that we haven’t yet sold the UK rights; this is just what
the rights will look like when we do. I’m told that the British will
want to launch their version simultaneous with the US launch, so
hopefully we’ll have a sale in the next few months.)
The book is also under consideration in Germany, Italy, Spain and the
Netherlands. (The Spanish deal, should it come to pass, will be for
Spanish-language rights worldwide, including South and Central America
and the US.) There isn’t a timing issue with translated versions, so
these sales may be a long way off. Usually these countries wouldn’t
consider the book till the galley stage or even after the US launch, but
the fact that my Bantam deal was a pre-empt is attractive.
For those of you wondering what a “pre-empt” is and why it’s good:
Usually when a publisher makes an offer on a book, the agent then calls
other houses to get competing bids leading to an auction. If a publisher
wants a book badly, they can offer a higher-than-normal bid that is only
valid if the agent accepts without involving the competition. This is
called a “pre-empt”, and they’re reported as such in the trade
publications. They make a book look “hot.”
Note to friends and fam:
If you find your name in one of my books…it’s coincidence, I promise!
I realized as I plotted book 2 that I have two characters, Pamela and
James, married to one another. Which would be fine, except Pamela is my
sister’s name. James is my oldest brother. I thought about changing it,
but, with the future in mind, I don’t think I can forever avoid making
use of the names of people I know–I know a lot of people! So just be
warned. You may find your name in use, but it’s not *you*! Really.
Stephanie’s brilliant questions:
> 1. How do you feel about the revisions they ask for? Are they quite
> minor to you, or do they ask for revisions that may involve large
> chunks of the work? Basically are you comfortable with what they ask
> in that regard, and please share in general what type of revisions
> they require.
I haven’t yet received my “editorial letter,” which will specify the
required revisions, so I don’t know yet exactly what they want from me.
But, from our phone conversation, I believe the general type of
revisions will be about managing the mood scene by scene to keep the
tension high. So, small tweaks throughout. I’m very comfortable with
this, and even welcome it. It’s hard for me to read the book and get a
sense of surprise or tension anymore; I know it too well. Having someone
as skilled and sensitive as Kate go through and mark exactly where I can
up the unease really makes my job easy, and will tighten the book nicely.
Before we got the deal, I’d worried that she’d want structural
revisions, which terrified me. I really, really, really didn’t want to
change any narrators or major plot points.
> 2. When you were offered a contract did you require a lawyer to read
> it over?
No. Literary agents are contract specialists. (Yay, Cameron! She knows
> 3. Does the agent seek out other well known authors to read your
> novel and get the blurb quotes that way?
Mostly the publisher will do this, though if I or my agent have specific
contacts, we’ll do it too. We’ll start pursuing these after the
revisions have been accepted. We’ve made a nice “wish list” of who we’ll
ask. Hopefully, we’ll get some in time to have them printed on the
covers of the ARCs.
> 4. Finally, is the second novel some sort of sequel to the first, or
> will it be totally separate? If it is totally different, do they
> still want it to be in the same genre?
It’s in the same genre (literary/crime), same format (multiple
narrators), same setting (Cambridge), with some carryover characters.
Kate is keen (and rightly so) to gear the editing of this first book to
emphasize and properly set up the carry-on conflicts I’m planning for
the next books.
> 5. Was your book always titled the same thing? Did you decide the
> title and at what stage of the writing did it come?
I picked the name right at the start. (Actually, I have titles and basic
ideas for the next four!)
I feel lucky they’re letting me keep it. Titles are changed by
That’s it for now! If you’re curious about anything, just ask