Monday, October 20, 2008

The Story of an Underdog

Dear Little Debut Novel,

This is an ode to you.

First, your author submitted you to agents. No one quite got you.

Finally, an agent thought maybe she got you. She needed your author to make some significant changes.

Your author totally rewrote you, and sent you back to the agent.

The agent took you up and went out with you. She was a good agent, because even after you were rejected by sixty million companies and imprints she kept trying, every time she met a new editor.

Finally, she ran out of editors. But she put you on her side table and asked your author to maybe work on something else.

Your author was sad. You were her heart and soul. She didn't think she wanted any other book. She wasn't sure she wanted to write anymore.

Finally, your agent, who hadn't quite gotten the hint that you were a failure, tried one last place. The editor there had misgivings about you, and passed on you. She liked you a lot, though, but thought you needed some major work.

Your agent pleaded and kicked and stamped her feet. You needed an editor to work with you on your development, she said. Think of what we could make together.

The editor went to her publisher, who agreed to make an extremely modest investment in this book that everyone else in the world turned down, and which still needed a lot of work.

You worked really hard, little debut novel. No one was giving you any credit for being anything other than a very little very debut novel, but you didn't mind. You went chugging along.

Then the galleys went out, and people started to talk about you.

Then the rights sales started coming in.

Then the sub rights bidding wars started.

Then the reviews started coming in. You were, they declared, a work of crazy daring genius.

Suddenly, everyone wanted you.

Suddenly, everyone was repackaging and repositioning you as their lead title.

Suddenly, all those publishers who had rejected you initially were coming back with subrights offers that were (literally) exponents of what you actually sold for the first time around.

Suddenly, bookstores were quintupling their buy-ins so that there would be much more of you available on their shelves.

Suddenly, full-page articles about you and your author were running in major national publications.

Whoda thunk?

Actually, the funny thing is... in retrospect, it seems so obvious. Like no other outcome was ever possible.

Go you, little book. Sure, you had a team of awesome people (ahem) working for you. But you also clearly rocked all along. Go you, for not giving up.

34 comments:

Nicole said...

What a cute ode. And we'd all love it even more if we knew *which* debut novel you were talking about!

Anonymous said...

More affirmation in things subjective and not giving up.

Thanks!

H. L. Dyer said...

This reminds me that I need to add to my Willy Wonka & the Publishing Industry post...

#7-- One is enough for anybody.

Sometimes one person on your side makes all the difference.

Jeanie W said...

What a great little story. I can hardly wait to read the sequel.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Excellent post, Moonrat.

Improbable success stories mean a lot right now in America, and this little ode to determination hits the spot.

Merry Monteleone said...

Thanks, moonie, I've needed an, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" speech lately.

Congrats to debut novelist (and her obviously awesome debut editor)

Anonymous said...

i may be dense but..... are you the editor in question?

Anonymous said...

Okay. I'm choosing to see this as a prediction even though I'm sure this particular editor has already passed on me, leaving my author heartbroken but still hopeful.

Linda said...

Ahhhh... thanks Moonie. Sending out those queries NOW. Peace, Linda

Lisa said...

Moonrat, it's always good to hear from someone who roots for the underdog in any sector of the universe, but I think especially this one. Hope is the thing with feathers etc.

Brian F. said...

I love when you get like this but I've reached a point where the anonymity drives me mental. I want to know what the fabulous little book is so I can partake too!

Madame Lefty said...

This was definitely a feel good post that I found at the right time.

Thanks!

Colorado Writer said...

THAT IS AWESOME!

Whirlochre said...

"Soon to be a blockbuster movie starring Brad Pitt."

Seriously though — a great read at 6.20am

JES said...

Okay. So sometimes I get annoyed because I shut down the browser too soon in the evening, and then when I open it up again first thing in the morning I see I missed being on the first train out of the station -- an excellent post (somewhere) and a bunch of just plain old frankly appreciative comments.

But this was really nice to read so early this a.m.

So nice to be reminded that good things can happen to good books, good authors, agents, and editors -- good people. You go, Moonie.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'd give one of my more minor digits in order to know the title or author of that book!

What a sweet entry, moonie!

intact said...

Oh how you make me smile.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, sure wish that would have happened to Cold in the Light.

Pamala Knight said...

Thanks for the inspiration dear Moonie. A feel good, don't give up story is just what this fledgling unpublished wannabe needed this morning.

Sending a big basket of virtual chocolate chip pecan cookies and pralines your way.

Precie said...

Yay!!! I click virtual champagne glasses in honor of said underdog and said underdog's brilliant editor (and other publishing partners).

cindy said...

how lovely. and it gives all little debut books out there hope. =)

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

how sweet. I think I'm gonna go make some deep passionate love to my heterosexual female protagonist in my novel-in-progress.

AC said...

That made my day a little bit brighter.

NerdSnark said...

This ode is why I watch Seabiscuit whenever I'm feeling down.

ChrisEldin said...

Such a terrific pick-me-up!!

Congratulations to the terrific author, terrific agent, and terrific editor!!

:-)

... Paige said...

Hi ya moonrat, found your link on Linda's Leftbrainwrite blog.
I'll be back (as if that has never been said by anyone)

Tracy Marchini said...

Love this! In my head this played as a animated short, where unassuming novel makes his way to the big city to find fame and fortune, only to discover he had already won just by finding the right home.

I will stop drinking caffeine now...

Precie said...

Ooh, like a 21st Century "I'm Just a Bill." :)

Tracy Marchini said...

Ha ha, yes!!

Honestly, I don't know how anybody survived without Schoolhouse Rock.... "Conjunction Junction" probably changed me more than I will ever realize!

Maprilynne said...

Oh man, as the author of a little debut novel, your ode makes my little heart race . . . with both fear and hope!

Anonymous said...

Moonrat,

As someone with a novel currently on submission, I was momentarily heartwarmed by The Little Novel That Could. But then I saw your post from a few days ago - 17 submissions in one week - and a cold chill went down my spine. Any one of the Gang of 17 still alive to tell a tale? And by the way - when you know it's going to be a no, how soon do you tell the poor bastards? It seems to me "Yes" comes fast and "no" takes forever. As they say in Tinsel Town, if you haven't heard, you've heard.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Great post! And congratulations to all involved...whoever you may be. Yay, hooray!@!@

Sara Merrick said...

With all the doom and gloom of the past several weeks -- this was a gem and a real gift. Thank you.

Travis Erwin said...

This post brightened my day. Thanks.