I’ve been promising you some news for a while now. I didn’t mean to leave you with an obnoxious cliffhanger; I’ve just been waiting for the dust to settle. (Actually, I’ve been waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out from behind my curtains and yell, “Punk’d!”)
I’m not entirely convinced that this is really happening – it may be a hallucination brought on by a questionable batch of pork spring rolls from little Vietnam (I do eat a lot of them). But here goes …
The short story
I launched my self-published book in the first week of September this year. In just over two months, I’ve landed some big publishing deals and a movie deal. My book has just sold to:
- Hyperion Voice (North American rights)
- Penguin (Australia / NZ rights)
- Summersdale (UK rights)
- Seismic Pictures in Hollywood (film option)
Allow me to insert a gaggle of exclamation marks: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How it all unfolded
A week after launching my book online, I received an email from a movie producer. He’d chanced upon my Twitter profile, which led him to an excerpt from my book. He sent me a quick email to see if my film rights were available. I told him I’d already optioned them to one Steven Spielberg …
… in my dreams!
“Yes, they’re available,” I told him. I assumed he was probably a recluse from Kansas with poor hygiene and a disturbing collection of author headshots pinned to his apartment walls. You see, producers don’t just Tweet you out of the blue with, Oh, hey, I love your voice, and I’d like to consider turning your self-published book into a Hollywood film. No, siree, that doesn’t happen in real life.
So I sent over a copy of my book, and promptly forgot about it.
Two weeks later, the producer called me. He was full of enthusiasm and he talked in detail about his creative vision for the project. He asked if I had any suggestions on who would play my character in the film. The only actor that came to mind was DJ Qualls, but instead of answering with something intelligible, I responded by choking on my soft palate.
It began to dawn on me that maybe this peculiar man from Kansas was actually a producer from Hollywood.
Days later, the producer sent me an option offer for the media rights. But before I had a chance to collect my jaw from the keyboard, I received a completely unrelated offer from an editor at a UK publishing house (who’d also found me through social media).
It all seemed to good to be true. I read and re-read the offers, trying to identify the scam. My dad, a scriptwriter by profession, gave his two cents’ worth: “Looks legit to me. Why don’t you get an agent?”
Up until that point, I’d been unsuccessful in my pursuit to land an agent. I spent the first half of 2011 either crafting queries letters to agents, or pounding my head against cold, hard surfaces as the rejections piled up. One agent told me that, while he loved my writing, it was probably going to be a long, uncertain road to landing a publishing deal. Apparently, memoirs don’t sell well to publishers unless your name is Hilton, Kennedy, or Fey.
Then, around mid-year, I decided to change course. Unwilling to be defeated, I followed the direction of my internal compass, which was pointing towards SELF-PUBLISH. I began getting my manuscript ready. I worked with an editor and a proofreader, and I pulled from my years of experience in marketing and graphic design to create a cover. I was furiously determined to create sleek product, and I sweated the small stuff into the wee hours of the night.
As the self-published project took over my life, I fantasized about a house fire that would wipe out every trace of this obsessive-compulsive beast that had swallowed my entire life. Things like food and exercise and changing out of my robe became low priority. I wondered how long I had until my loved ones arranged an intervention: “So about this whole ‘book’ thing, Torre. It’s time to let go. You need to move on. It’s getting really sad.”
I launched my self-published book through my blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
I was sent an option offer from Seismic Pictures in Hollywood.
I was offered a deal from Summersdale in the UK.
I signed with Elizabeth Evans from Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency in New York. I also aligned with Jessica Regel from the same agency for film and foreign rights.
Thanks to the graceful choreography of Elizabeth Evans, three US publishers were prepared to go to auction, but we received an incredible pre-emptive offer from Hyperion that was far too handsome to turn down. At 3.30 a.m. my time, we accepted the offer.
Thanks to Jessica Regel, my book went to auction in Australia with four big publishers. I received some amazing offers, but I chose Penguin because of their glowing energy for the story.
Allow me to insert a throng of exclamation marks: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s taken me a year and a half of full-time writing, ten months of promoting, one sorry social life, 5,334 Tweets, and a stack of edited drafts that’s thigh-high, but it worked! I would say that it’s a dream come true, except that I never even let myself dream up something this epic. I’m awash with mixed emotions: happiness, relief, shock, and also a tiny remaining seed of doubt: is Ashton Kutcher still crouching behind my curtains?
My book will be released in 2013
My sincere apologies to all of the people who’ve emailed wondering why they can’t buy my book on Amazon. The self-published version is no longer available. It’ll be released as a summer read in 2013 (January in Australia and May in the US and the UK) as Love with a Chance of Drowning. Please sign up here if you’d like to receive an email when it launches.
I owe many thanks …
To the wonderful agents at JVNLA, who have well and truly exceeded my expectations. Thanks to Robert Schwartz from Seismic Pictures, and Jennifer Barclay from Summersdale. They both scouted me on Twitter, which is sooooo 2011! I’m sensing some fun times ahead, hopefully without DJ Qualls.
I put a lot of work into self-publishing, and I’ve been awfully precious about selling my baby, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that my publishers will be able to launch the book to heights that I can’t reach on my own. I can’t wait to work with Christine Pride from Hyperion, Kirsten Abbott from Penguin, and Jennifer Barclay from Summersdale.
Thanks to all of the people who have helped me: my test readers, my enablers, my blog subscribers, my travel blogging community, and my memoir writers’ community. I’ve been touched by the generosity of so many people who have been willing to give their time and energy by offering advice, critique, and reviews. I’m so glad to be a part of the blogging community. (We may bicker like old lovers, but we love like old friends.)
Thanks to the DeRoche family and the Nepomnaschy family for your help and support. I have some very talented sisters, including Summer (who you should totally hire for all things film-related – she helped me with my trailer) and Bree (who you should totally hire if you want to get your manuscript edited and ready for submissions or self-publishing – she edited my manuscript).
And then there’s Ivan. He’s been my creative partner and my producer. He’s been my punching bag, my cook, my masseuse, my fetcher of wine, and my therapist. At times, he’s used all of his strength to hoist me up from a dark pit of self-doubt.
I found him in a cocktail bar. What. The. Hell?