I’ve been trying to write a post-sale post for days now, and I’m going to give up trying to make it articulate or pretty and just give you what I know since Tuesday. I’ve signed the contract, which is the big news, and I mailed it out yesterday after a series of emails with the publisher, learning more about the house, the genre, and the new-to-me world of digital publishing. I’m now on a Dreamspinner author loop, where I am planning on being silent as a stone as long as possible so I can get a lay of the land.
Announcing the sale has been fun, but sometimes it feels like coming through a door sideways. I’m aware that in most of the publishing circles I’ve hung out in for years that presses like Dreamspinner are considered to be less than par, that they’re "settling" or worse. I think some of that stigma has faded as traditional publishing has begun to go down like Eddie Izzard’s flan in a cupboard, which is good. I also know that a lot of people at this point were just glad to see me in ANYWHERE. I wish I knew the way (outside of this blog) to explain that actually I wouldn’t trade this house for anything right now. Small is good to me, though in point of fact this house is growing: they’ve just expanded their line, which is why HERO is coming out in December of this year or January of 2010 instead of June or July, which would be more then norm in publishing. I like the focus on m/m a lot. I like the professionalism I’ve experienced on every level. No, the money is not huge, based as nearly all digital houses are largely on royalties instead of advances (though I do get one of those, too), but I like that, too. I just like all of it, and it feels very good, very home, or potential home, so far.
The most awkward come-out has been on Facebook. It’s actually gone fine, but that place has become the absolute strangest cross-section of people in my life, and I wasn’t sure how this was going to go over. I tried to be cagey and just say I’d sold a novel, but people wanted details, and I figured I could only hedge so long, so I gave in and wrote a "note" telling the whole story of how I got here and what kind of story I’m writing and will be writing in the future. The comments so far have all been positive, and I don’t expect that to change. I’m sure there have been some eyebrows going up, but that’s okay. I don’t want to apologize for myself, and I don’t want to hide what I do, which is why I’m using my own name. My proudest, proudest (going to cry right here at the computer) moment was yesterday when my in-laws called me on the phone from their vacation to congratulate me, and they each took a turn. Tom said, as he always has, that "he’s going to buy a whole bunch of them and give them to everyone." I paused, then said as gently as I could, "Tom, not everyone might want to read this kind of book." (I’m envisioning Dan’s conservative aunts falling over in a faint when they get to the part where Morgan has to bring Hal to multiple orgasms to get a drug of out him.) Tom didn’t even pause. "Well, I’m at least getting a book to put on my shelf. This is a big deal." They have always been my staunchest supporters, outside of Dan. They’re behind everything I write, and I think they’re honored, not ashamed, that it’s their surname I’m using on the cover. (Yep, big bawling baby right now.) I love them so much. I hope they see that name as an honor to them, because without Cullinans, I could not have done this.
So that’s where I am. I’ve been reading contracts and trying to sound sane and professional in my emails, and alternating between being quietly giddy and hopeful and crying. Actually, it’s hard to think about, but I have to, and thank god for my Virgo, because coping means planning. The thing is, Dreamspinner allows for (and wants) an aggressive publishing schedule. I asked my editor what her ideal Dreamspinner author looked like, as in, how much does she publish, and her answer was "a novel or novella every three months." By no means was this a requirement, but that was the ideal. THAT is really, really fast for somebody who drags her feet like me, and probably a good challenge. I’m feeling a bit pleased, because I could actually meet that for awhile: SD is almost done (and would fit the line), I’m set to write another for NaNoWriMo, and these really do come out a lot faster. I don’t want to lose sight of the other works, either SMALL TOWN BOY or the world of Etsey, but ultimately, work at Dreamspinner would only help them. Plus, I really like this work. It sure beats subbing for preschoolers. It does mean I have to stop fudging on my exercises, and at some point I should try to run a trial of a spoken word software, but I have my doubts I could compose that way. Anyway, the bottom line is that I have a lot I can do, a lot I need to do, and finally, finally, FINALLY I am not just putting stuff out there for a maybe or potentia. For the first time, my writing is actually going somewhere. That’s where the crying comes in. People, I’ve been writing without a measurable audience since I was twelve. I am now thirty-six. That is a DAMN LONG TIME to go unpublished, especially since the first novel (at twelve) you’ve been assuming that was where it was supposed to end up.
The icon above is an image I bought from iStockphoto, which I’ve used on my website. Why yes, I have one! I’ve been working on it for a month or so, to the relief of my poor brother who has been asking me for years, "NOW are you ready for a website?" He’s been parking heidicullinan.com forever, and as of yet it still redirects you right back to where you are right now. But this is the trial run. I’m still working on some of the wordings, and I worry that it’s kind of lame, but it’s a start. It looks a bit like it’s set up on a few of Anna’s building blocks, all wobbly with funny format, but that’s because I’m using iWeb and my MobileMe server space. Hans will make it look more stable.
The best (tongue in cheek?) page is the Fiction page. I stayed up until 1AM last night writing blurbs for all my stories. Notice I am mostly works in progress, though in my defense, several of them are pretty damn close. I feel like most of the blurbs still need work, and I really laugh at the ones for TEMPLE BOY and SMALL TOWN BOY. Half the people are missing! But they don’t fit in the blurb. The TEMPLE BOY one is really rough, because I haven’t revised it yet. That is what I’m hoping for October, but first I have to finish SD. Which means I should stop blogging and go work.
In the meantime, that’s where I am. Slightly suspended, trying to respect the moment while also trying to kick myself in gear and work like hell. And really, really looking sternly at myself, because I absolutely HAVE to start getting to the gym again. And clean the house . . . .