That was the week that was!

June 16, 2008

I’m sorry it’s been a little silent lately and that my customary weekend post didn’t materialize. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here in the hotseat – plus, I was keeping my powder dry, all ready to burst out and surprise you with an exciting edition today! Tally ho!
Last week was a textbook case of everything my agenting life can comprise. Negotiating the endless fine print of contracts (where the devil lies in the detail, all ready to ensnare you later if you don’t get it sorted), dealing with tax issues, heavy-duty editing (trying to explain to an author, over many pages of notes, how a manuscript might be transformed from something GOOD and PROMISING into something GREAT AND YES I WANT TO BUY IT), reading submissions that don’t quite cut the mustard (yawn, show and don’t tell), talking to the Hollywood film agent representing one of my manuscripts over in LA, preparing my speech (urgh, 45 minutes of me expounding!) for Hollins University this Friday, preparing for copious events over in London where I’m flying very soon . . . Oh, and did I mention the auction? Oh, I didn’t, silly me!

Yes, the biggest event of last week – if days and days of mounting tension can be called an ‘event’ – was the very thrilling auction that happened for my lovely Lindsey Leavitt’s PRINCESS FOR HIRE. Now I ‘met’ Lindsey (who is from Alabama) several months ago when she popped up in my inbox. I remember the day very well. I was feeling totally overwhelmed by the number of submissions flying at me through the ether and wondered how I would ever keep my mental faculties – or actually discern whether something was any good (if you don’t understand this, try to read 100 submissions, each with 3 chapters attached – ON SCREEN; your eyes go square and you soon develop a pounding headache over one eye; there is a price to be paid, by guess who, for the convenience of authors being able to email!). I was sitting back in my chair, boots on the desk, and clicking slowly through the emails. I opened Lindsey’s attachment, read a few pages (about 3 was all it took) and slowly sat up, lowering the aforementioned boots to the floor. Here before me was an authorial voice to be taken seriously – it had character, wit, and panache. A long phone call later, plus a lot of fingernail chewing (as Lindsey chose between me and another *somewhat* larger agency in New York), and the deal was done. Lindsey was a Greenhouse seedling!

In common with virtually all authors I represent, Lindsey and I retired into a period of editorial purdah where she revised, expanded and generally developed her story and characters. About three weeks ago we knew we had it as good as it could be and the moment had come to send our sparkly princess out into the world. It’s a scary moment because there are so many imponderables, seasoned with a large twist of luck – and that’s true even with a really good manuscript. It took ages for anything exciting to happen, but we (just about) kept our nerve and finally four publishers offered, with a very thrilling second round of ‘best offers’ involving two houses with a deadline of last Friday at 3pm. By this time our fingernails were a mere memory, and Lindsey and I were in contact constantly by phone as the situation changed from hour to hour. But we had a clear winner. Emily Schultz at Hyperion had loved and championed PRINCESS from the start, and her house backed her right royally. Thank you, Hyperion! You guys don’t hang about when you want something. We salute you!

So Lindsey is all set to join the ranks of the professional writers. Not just with one book – but with a three-book deal, the first of which publishes in Winter 2010. A whole new world is opening up before her and I am so thrilled that this great dream of Lindsey’s is becoming a reality even better than I had dared to hope.

PRINCESS FOR HIRE is a wonderful, funny, high-concept story for tween girls. After a humiliating encounter with her long-term crush, ex-best friend and a groundhog costume, Desi Bascomb knows she needs a little magic in her life. So when sharply suited Meredith Poofinski pops out of a bubble saying she’s an agent scouting for princess substitutes, Desi leaps at the challenge. Now Desi is about to learn first hand what it feels like to be royalty as she steps into the slippers of princesses who are desperate to go AWOL. Soon Desi is dancing in an Amazon tribal festival and dodging a prince with just a little too much ‘Eastern promise’. But nothing can prepare her for the magic of falling for a real prince – a prince who has no idea that back in Hicktown, Idaho, Desi is just a girl in a groundhog costume.

The deal went up on Publishers Marketplace today, and while Lindsey enjoys the magic of her very own life (who needs bubbles?), my thoughts have already turned to the UK/Commonwealth rights – and the rest of the world. Because it’s not over when I’ve sold US and Canada; that’s hopefully just the start. But again, it’s impossible to predict how the story will go down in other territories and we just wait and see and do our best.

And now I must run along – I have a poorly Hound downstairs who needs me. And I hear him calling.