My agent calls, and I swallow the urge to scream. Bad news comes via email. If she’s calling that only means one thing—that magic word—DEAL.
She received an offer from Samhain Publishing for my novel Racing To You. This is what all writers know as . . .
I’m speechless, sort of. I say thank you, I think. It’s more like: say what? They want the next book by when? You mean in a year, not by the end of the year, right?
I hang up, a skipping madness of “ah!” more like “AHHHHH!”. The only thing keeping me from giggling myself into an ulcer is the number of people I have to call. Or not call, because I can’t tell anyone. Until it’s official.
When I tell people, “I have good news, but I can’t say what it is.” More than one person asks, “Are you pregnant?”
I think, Nah, this is way better than a baby.
My brain seizures on the phrase, I got a book deal over and over. It’s so constant I can’t think, I can’t work. I lose four days of writing to the phenomena. I nickname it Deal Freeze.
Making it official should spur dancing in the streets, clinking of glasses and overflowing felicitations. I’ve fantasized about this for years. I’ve put endless hours of work into this. My agent has put endless hours of work into this. (Hours that she’s put in for free.)
On seeing the contract though, to my horror, I feel sick inside. Faced with the legal jargon, all I can think is, I’m signing my book away.
I don’t want to self-publish. That’s not what it’s about. I admire the bravery and tenacity of authors who control every aspect of publishing their books. But that’s not for me.
Perhaps I’m still, after everything, too attached to my book. People talk about authors thinking their book is their baby. But it feels like more than that. It’s about my safe world that allows me to write for myself. It’s mine, damn it. And no one can take it away from me.
I know logically, the contract isn’t taking away my writing. That’s absurd. I re-read the first clause of the contract, the standard one, the part where is says, I retain the copyright to my book. I still own it. The story that I created is still mine. I’m only loaning out the rights to sell it.
Me and my dreams of traditional publishing, the ones where I don’t have to embark on the journey alone and do every step of the work myself—we cry, Yes, please.
I sign it with glee.
But the struggle for that decision cost me. Despite my shiny new deadline for book number two (the first real deadline I’ve ever had), I lose three more days of writing to Deal Freeze.
The announcement goes up on Publisher’s Marketplace. I’m a flurry of Twitter and email and Facebook and texts and phone calls and updating my website and…I lose two more days of writing to Deal Freeze.
The announcement sends heart attacks of fear through my veins. My pulse races for hours. I’m a professional writer. People are going to pay money for what I write. My writing isn’t a hobby anymore. It’s work.
Take me back, I think. To when it didn’t matter. To when this was just a game and I was doing it for me.
It’s NaNoWriMo, my favorite time of year. Writing a minimum of 1k a day and having no idea what’s going to come from my fingertips—word dumping—it’s my favorite sport.
The book I got this deal for, Racing To You, is a product of NaNoWriMo 2014.
But suddenly, the philosophy of “just put something on the page, who cares if it’s crap” feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Are those days over? How do I protect my precious writing from Deal Freeze?
The same way I still own the copyright of my book, I still control my writing space. What’s causing my Deal Freeze is not phone calls or contracts or Twitter announcements. It’s me.
Deal Freeze doesn’t actually exist. I made it up.
And just like characters in my book, I can kill it too.
My laptop is still here. So am I. The deal isn’t here to steal my writing time. It’s here to make me money, and the more money I make, the less I have to work my day job. The less I have to work my day job, the more time I have to write.
So really, the deal is here to get me more write time, not take it away. Maybe when I get my next deal, I won’t lose quite so many days to Freeze.
Robin Lovett, also known as S.A. Lovett, writes contemporary romance, and her debut novel, Racing To You, will be released July of 2016. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency and has a forthcoming series releasing with SMP Swerve in the summer of 2017.
She writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs and housework. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she loves overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, you can find her somewhere in the outdoors with a laptop in her bag. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter.