I’m sitting here writing this blog post in my local indie bookstore because it just seemed like such a fitting place to capture this story. My kids are usually with me when I come by, but not today. Today it’s quiet, I’m surrounded by books, and the resident cat, Ginger, has curled up on the couch next to me.
And guess what? One day, my book will be on the YA table over there:
It all started when Caryn sent her pitch and the full version of my manuscript to an impressive list of editors. Some of the names were familiar to me because I’d seen them speak at conferences. Some I knew because I’d highlighted their names in the acknowledgements of my favorite books. But all of them were total strangers and, be-still-my-heart, they were reading my book. Most of my friends hadn’t even read my book.
Two days after she sent out the pitch, the ever-professional Caryn called me with a voice that sounded uncharacteristically giddy. She got a call from one of the editors on our list. “Lisa Yoskowitz at Hyperion already read it,” Caryn said as I sat down in the closest chair and did some yoga breathing. “She said she opened it and started reading, just to decide whether she needed to read it right away or if it could wait a few days. She read the first five pages. Then the next five pages. Then she got up and shut her door. She read until she was done, and called me when she got home. She loves it!” I could hear Caryn’s smile through the phone. “I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I haven’t heard an editor this excited about a project in a long time. I think she’ll make an offer.”
Caryn thought she’d be the first. I thought she’d be the only. And I was totally thrilled about that. A few months earlier, I’d seen Lisa do a presentation at a local SCBWI conference on “Famous First Words” that made me laugh and had me taking notes in a frenzy. I’d highlighted her name in the acknowledgments of two of my very favorite books, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and John Green’s Paper Towns, so I knew she was incredibly talented. She was a dream editor. And, by the way, she wanted to be my editor. I laughed and cried at the same time, and thought we were done.
But then we got an offer from a completely different publisher. In addition to that one, Caryn told me, there were at least two more on the way.
That’s when I learned about auctions. When there are more than two publishing houses interested in a book, the agent sets a target date for each one to come in with their best offer. The “best offer” takes many factors into account, including the advance, royalties, subsidiary rights, and marketing plans. Some auctions continue for multiple rounds until there are two final offers, and we select the one we consider the best, all things considered.
For me, the fun part took place in the week leading up to the auction. Four times that week, my caller ID announced that I had a call from a publishing house whose name belongs on the spine of a book and not on the digital display of my phone, and I got to have a “first date” with each of the interested editors. I learned about each one. How they work. How they think. What they liked about my story. What they would suggest we change. And I took copious notes through my perm-a-grin. They were four amazing and impressive women. After each conversation I hung up and called Caryn to say something like, “Wow, she was fantastic too!”.
When auction day arrived, I spent much of it in a state of disbelief. I was so flattered by each person’s enthusiasm for this story and their confidence in my ability. Each publisher came through with an offer not only for MOBIUS, but for my second project as well. There were things I loved about each house. Things I loved about each editor. But there was still one person who had my heart in a vice-grip. And when Disney*Hyperion came in with a highly competitive offer that blew my socks off, the stars aligned.
I’m so incredibly proud to call Lisa Yoskowitz my new editor. She’s the one who started reading and got up to shut her door. The one who made me laugh during her presentation at SCBWI. An editor I never thought I’d be lucky enough to call mine. From the beginning, I knew in my gut that she was my dream editor, and speaking with her that first time only confirmed it. Lisa was bright, funny, easy to talk with, and she completely got my story—she knew where I wanted to take it and had great ideas to help me get there. And she asked tough questions that proved she would keep me on my toes. I knew we would make a great team. Not only that, I was overjoyed by everything I learned about Disney*Hyperion throughout the process. Not only was Lisa amazing, but the entire team sounded incredible. There were so many reasons it felt like home.
Here are some of this things that Lisa had to say about my story:
Möbius is the stuff that editors’ manuscript dreams are made of. Reading this book for the first time was an incredible experience that kept me glued to my seat, racing to the last page only to turn back to the first to fall in love with it all over again.
Möbius is impossible to read without feeling compelled to shout from the rooftops about how imaginative and original it is. It has all of the things that I love best in a story: a fresh world that’s utterly riveting and entirely believable; a strong, relatable, lovable, smart heroine; a swoon-worthy romance; characters you care about as if they live and breathe; and pacing that keeps the pages flying. The story is at once haunting and uplifting, and the writing is heartbreakingly beautiful.
See what I mean? I can’t imagine a day when I’m not totally blown away that I get to work with Lisa Yoskowitz.
For two years, I’ve been working on this novel and trying not to let myself dream about the possibility of it living on a bookshelf. I never even let myself think that it could be on bookshelves around the world in multiple languages, with different, beautiful covers. And, wow. All of that is actually happening.
In the Fall of 2012 it will be in bookstores like this one. Between now and then, Lisa and the team at Hyperion will be working with me to make the story as strong as it can be. And all the while, I’ll be trying not to think about the next part: you might just pick it up and read it.