"Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” Spoken by Author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, these words are apropos for the way I felt after my first conversation with the co-owner of my publishing company. Never before have I had such a stimulating back-and-forth about different aspects of my novel.
Obviously it was gratifying and personally satisfying to hear how much he enjoyed reading it. As an author, that’s all I really want deep down. I want readers to enjoy the story I’ve told. If they end up learning about the fact of Chinese soldiers in the Civil War, all the better. If young readers relate to my main character’s struggle to find his place and I’ve helped them in some small way, then all the years I spent writing this story was worth it.
My favorite line from the conversation was a simple one. I won’t repeat it here to prevent being a spoiler, but it was about his desire for something specific to happen to the antagonist. His simple declarative statement was a shot of elixir into my writer bloodstream. It showed me how invested he was in the story.
We also talked about one of my late character additions (late in terms of his not being a part of my original plot) and what he adds to the story overall. It was an affirmation of that decision—and a proof point for how often you should revise your first draft until you get it right. I have completely fallen in love with this particular character and can’t imagine the novel without him.
The co-owner also highlighted the novel’s measure as a literary piece and commented positively about characterization, twist, and the experiences showcased by my main character’s Chinese heritage. It was one of the most rewarding and stimulating conversations I’ve ever had about my novel precisely because it was with someone (an author, an editor, a teacher) who had both read and enjoyed it. We talked about my characters like we knew them personally. Put simply, it was FUN.
I hope I came off as a professional. I had to seriously resist the urge to squeal during our conversation. I am talking to a publisher. He liked my novel! He liked my character. He just said ‘contract.’ He just validated something that I wrote….”
Beyond the great exchange about the happenings in my novel, we also talked about the contract he officially offered following our call, the next steps in the publication process (editing, cover selection, and publication date possibilities), and marketing strategies. It wasn’t a particularly long call in terms of length, but it was so rich in meaning to me. Anne Morrow Lindbergh certainly knew a thing or two about good conversation and the sleep deprivation it can bring. I haven’t slept well since I had the conversation, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.