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The Inner Workings of a Big Announcement

Well, you guys. This is it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. (And by “we all,” I mean, like, me, my husband, and maybe one of my two children – lol!)

I can finally share the news of my three-book deal with Sourcebooks with the whole world! (And by “the whole world,” I obviously just mean Twitter.)

It’s been a crazy ride, so I wanted to share the timeline with you all and also some of the unexpected things that happened along the way.

I signed with my lovely agent, Elizabeth Copps, back in early September 2021. She and I went through a final revision on my manuscript at that time, and by the middle of October, she drafted a pitch letter and sent me a list of ten different publishers who she intended to send the manuscript out to. She received positive feedback quickly; in fact, sixteen days in, we had serious interest from Sourcebooks. But, as I explained in a previous blog post, Elizabeth had to pitch me – not just my book – to them, and once we got acquainted, they made me a formal offer.

That was back in November of 2021. The day before Thanksgiving, Elizabeth and I got on a Zoom call with Deb Werksman – a powerhouse at Sourcebooks – to discuss the manuscript and to get a feel for each other. It went well; I was terrified, she was lovely, and I can remember very little of the exchange. All I knew was that Things. Were. Happening. And I was as ready as I’d ever be!

After some negotiating, Elizabeth informed Deb that we were happy to accept the Sourcebooks offer. Then Deb got to work with the people in the contract department to draft up a publishing contract for my work. We didn’t receive that until the middle of December, at which point it was determined that the publishing world was going to sleep for the holidays. The cool thing was that it gave me and Elizabeth some time to look over the contract in-depth. I was able to ask questions (there’s a lot of terminology that can be scary to newbies, even if you’ve read up on the subject!) and Elizabeth was really helpful in explaining things to me. Anyway, the back and forth between Elizabeth and Deb picked back up in the new year, and yesterday (January 18th) I received my finalized contract. Once I signed it, Elizabeth sent the announcement about my deal to Publisher’s Marketplace and it went live today.

It feels like a whirlwind, but in reality, it took just over two months to get from pitch to signed contract – and I, for one, did not know it would take that long.

Here’s something else I didn’t know. In the romcom world, the target audience is women ages 25-34. (Tough pill for me to swallow since I’m no longer in that age bracket!) As a result, I was asked by Sourcebooks to lower the age of my protagonist from 36 to 30. In reproductive years, there’s a big difference between a 36 year old and a 30 year old… and thankfully, we were able to compromise on age 31. But it took a good amount of reworking to make sure I got all the pop culture references right and that everything was aligned from a calendar standpoint.

Also, something else: before the contract was even signed, I was asked to share something called “Launch Materials” (not to be confused with “lunch materials” – turkey, swiss, lettuce, and the like). Some Sourcebooks folks – and TBH, I’m not even sure who’s who over there yet – asked me for back cover copy, a full-length synopsis, character descriptions, assistance with cover art direction, my headshot and bio, and other fun stuff like that. It was an experience answering all of those questions, although I have no idea if any of my insights were useful to them. Here’s an example:

Sourcebooks: Our designers want to know the tone of the book (i.e. racy, sweet, tender, funny, edgy?). They are also interested in any notable objects or scenes important to the story, things not to include, or art styles you envision.

Me: The book is a romantic comedy (more com than rom), so I envision something very similar to books like Happy Singles Day (Ann Marie Walker), I Hate You More (Lucy Gilmore), and What the Cat Dragged In (Kate McMurray). The Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn is known for its footbridge; in fact, if you Google “Sheepshead Bay footbridge” and check out the image results, you’ll get a good sense of setting. It’s an interesting part of Brooklyn that doesn’t feel quite like what you’d expect when you think of Brooklyn. The streetlamps are particularly interesting and might look nice in the backdrop of a cover (sort of like how you used the skyline in the most recent McMurray book). Some of the key scenes take place in an Italian restaurant based on a permanently-closed, real-life restaurant called Il Fornetto in Sheepshead Bay. If you do a Google image search for Il Fornetto Sheepshead Bay, you’ll get a good sense of where Gracie and Colin have their first date – a lengthy, pivotal scene.

As far as objects you could potentially include, Gracie’s high-school yearbook is the catalyst for the whole story… ultimately, she cuts it into pieces towards the end of the book. There are two alcohol-induced stupors, so perhaps an empty bottle of wine or something like that. At the beginning of the story, Gracie cuts all of her thongs in half. She has a tendency to go wild with the scissors when she drinks too much. So, depending on the direction you want to take, you could either do something more romancey/sweet with the Brooklyn backdrops suggested above, or something a little more silly with a yearbook, a pair of scissors, a bottle of wine and some thongs? (Please don’t fire me... I’m new at this! LOL)

Yes, friends, that was my actual answer. And yes, thankfully, they still want to work with me! I tried to include all Sourcebooks authors in my comps (later, I was told that was not necessary) and tried to share elements that I thought would be relevant, with the understanding that the people asking had not actually read the book. I guess that was another surprising fact. The cover art people are probably not going to read your book before they design your cover. (This blew my mind!)

So, in summary:

1) This author-journey-thing is super interesting,

2) Lots of the things that have happened are not what I would have expected, and

3) I’m sure there will be more surprises to come!

I hope this provided some useful insight for all you unpublished authors who are just getting out into the query trenches, or who have recently gone out on sub for the first time. I know every author’s path is different, but I love reading about and learning from those who have gone before me… so hopefully, someone on the receiving end of this blog post can learn from these experiences.

My debut novel will publish in 2023! It’s crazy to be able to say that. Can’t wait to share more updates as they happen!

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