The Top Seven Things People Ask When They Find Out You Have a Book Deal

It’s been about two weeks since my debut middle-grade novel, The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby, sold to Putnam, and I can’t deny that the experience has been pretty sweet so far. I’ve spoken to my brilliant new editor, Shauna Fay, who fought to acquire the book from day one, and I love all of her editorial suggestions. I’ll probably be getting her official “editorial letter” sometime in the next couple of months, and I’ll work on revisions over the summer.

Anyway, as I’ve broken the good news to family members and friends, I’ve noticed that the same few questions keep popping up again and again…and they’re not necessarily the questions I would have anticipated. If you’d like to know what they are–and what my answers are!–I invite you to read on.

Just as long as it doesn't have a scary face in the sky, I'm cool.

1) What will the cover look like?

The number one thing people seem to be curious about is the cover, and they’re pretty disappointed when they find out how little control I’m going to have over it. I mean, I assume that if I really, really hate it I may have some sort of veto power, but I’m not expecting to have much creative input when it’s conceived. Will it be drawn or photographed? Girly-looking or gender-neutral? I have no idea at this point, and probably won’t for at least a year. Which takes us to question #2…

2) Why is your book not being published until 2014?

Most people have asked this rather politely—with the notable exception of my elementary-aged writing students, who squealed with shock and disbelief when I told them it was going to be a two-year wait before Gladys (which they’ve already read) was in bookstores. One of them now threatens on a regular basis to track down my editors and give them a piece of her mind (Shauna, you may want to screen your calls for an irate 11-year-old).

But it’s a valid question. Why such a long wait? There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when a book will be released, but I’ve been explaining it this way: Publishers release new books in two major “seasons,” fall and spring—like how new collections are released in the world of fashion. My editor thinks that Gladys will stand out more as a spring release (apparently, a lot of big-name authors—like my buddy JKR—release their books in the fall). And since lead times for editing/designing/marketing books are long in publishing, Putnam’s spring 2013 list is pretty much all sewn up. Hence, it’s spring 2014 for Gladys.

Yeah, it’s a long wait. But the good news is that that means we won’t have to rush through the editing process, and there will be lots of time for distributing advance copies to reviewers before the book hits the shelves. Not to mention that it gives me a good amount of down time to work on my next book before I have to shift into promotional mode. Which brings us to question #3…

3) OMG, you’d better get cracking on that sequel!

OK, that isn’t really a question. But a lot of people do assume that the next book I work on should, obviously, be the sequel to Gladys Gatsby. Surely my publisher is chomping at the bit for a book 2, right?

Not exactly. While there are certainly some debut authors who get two- and three-book deals, most publishers want to test out their first-timers with a single book. Then, if it sells well, they’ll sign you up for a couple more in the series.

I’ve already outlined book 2 and my editor and my agent are really enthusiastic about it, so I have high hopes that I will get to write and publish it down the road (you know, in 2025 or thereabouts). But, my dear readers, it seems that that whether that happens will be in large part up to you…so, if you want to see a sequel, make sure you buy plenty of copies of Gladys 1! I’m sure that everyone in your family will want their own copy to, um, dance around the maypole with (or whatever it is that you do for fun in the spring).

4) Will your book be hardcover or softcover? Will there be an e-book?

Yes, yes, and yes (as far as I know). My publisher has bought all of these rights, so I assume that it will be hardback and e-book first, with a paperback printing following sometime down the road. The publisher has also bought audio book rights, so who knows, maybe there will even be an audiobook! I nominate Stephen Fry to read it. 😀 (Yes, I understand that my protagonist is female and not British, but I know he can pull it off—it’s called acting for a reason!)

5) Did you get an advance?

Or, as one friend of mine put it, “Do publishers even pay advances to first-time authors these days?” Thankfully, yes, they still do. No one’s actually come out and asked me how much I’m getting (well, except for a couple of close family members whom I would have told anyway), but if you’re wondering what the usual range is for first-time authors, agent Rachelle Gardner has a good post about that.

6) Can I be in the movie?

I’m actually surprised by how often I get this question—quasi-facetiously from adults and very earnestly from kids. They don’t even ask “Will there be a movie?” or “When does the movie come out?” but jump straight to “Can I be in it?”

Well, from your lips, dear questioners, to the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s ears! Film rights have not been optioned (um, yet!) for the book, and they may never be. Even if they are, that’s no guarantee that a movie will ever be made—hundreds of options on books are bought every year, and very few of them ever actually make it to the big screen.

So, you can cross your fingers, but don’t hold your breath. Of course, I think that Gladys could make a great movie—or TV series, even—but I’m a little biased. Anyway, the end of the book has a big scene at a Broadway theater and another at a crowded restaurant, so if those scenes ever are filmed, and you REALLY want to be an extra…well, here’s hoping!

7) I can’t wait for your book tour!

Again, not a question, but it’s interesting how many people think that every author gets sent on a nationwide book tour by their publisher. I can’t blame them, because I used to think this, too.

The truth is, only the highest-profile authors get sent on all-expenses-paid book tours these days. Which doesn’t mean that I can’t go on my own mini book tour; it just means that I’ll probably be organizing it (and paying for the travel costs) myself.

I’m lucky enough currently to have a pretty flexible working schedule, so if that continues, I’ll definitely plan to do some readings/signings in Colorado (where I live), New York (where my family—and Gladys!—lives), Indiana (where my husband’s family lives), and hopefully Boston and DC (where a lot of my friends live) when the book comes out. Hey, maybe I’ll even throw in a west coast leg with San Fran (where my aunt lives), Seattle (where some family and friends live), and Portland (where Powell’s Books lives!). It’ll all depend on, you know, time and money. But trust me, wherever you live, I’d love to come visit your town–bonus points if I can sleep on your couch and eat your cereal in the morning, too.


So, have any of these answers really surprised you? And do you have any burning questions that I haven’t addressed? Just leave’em in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond!

11 Responses to “The Top Seven Things People Ask When They Find Out You Have a Book Deal”

  1. annbedichek

    I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about your nationwide book tour, too! And how it HAS to include some of the awesome book stores we have here in Vermont. We’ll feed you granola and milk from a glass bottle!

  2. Priscilla Mizell

    Great post, Tara! What interesting questions and answers. By the way, I vote you visit KC on your book tour, too. Surely we’ll have two bedrooms by then–so you can stay with us. 🙂

  3. Sarah Hilbert

    If you promise to make our town a stop on your book tour, I can promise you a bed (or your choice of couch), cereal (your choice of milk–cow or almond), AND something rhubarb-y, courtesy of our garden. We’ll even house Andy. How’s that for a deal!?! I’m so excited for you, and…why, yes, I’d be delighted to record the audiobook version for you if Stephen Fry is unavailable.

  4. flashthecatblog

    Great post, Tara! And congratulations again!! (I’d offer you our spare bed for your book tour, but it’s only an hour from your own bed so it probably wouldn’t help much.)

  5. Monica B. W. (@Monica_BW)

    Hahaha!! Really interesting questions! Looks like, as always, people who don’t write really have no idea about how this industry works. Now my question:
    Are you book touring in Chile? (hehehe!)

  6. Brian Grove

    Hi Tara,

    This post is so true! My site compliments yours, consisting of interesting articles from a published author, and a free writers yearbook with over 1000 book publishers currently accepting submissions. Keep up the good work.

    Regards, Brian


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