There was an article in the Globe and Mail this morning about a Canadian author who sold a book she wrote in three and a half weeks while her kids were at school. Her agent sold it first to Hollywood and then to HarperCollins for "a nice amount of money for a first novel." I'm thinking low six figures, which I would call very nice for any novel any time.
I see articles like this from time to time -- author strikes it WAY BIG first time out, making lots of money and getting a movie deal. Yes, it happens -- but it's rare. Really, really rare. The vast majority of authors I know don't hit it out of the ball park first time up at bat.
I also consider this sort of "instant" success story directly responsible for so many people telling me they'd like to be writers. What they really want is to type for a while, sell what they've typed to Hollywood and/or get a huge book deal and appear on Oprah. The whole work/submit/rejection thing isn't even on their radar.
But here's what you find out if you read the article about this amazing success all the way to the end: the author had been doing contract editing work. Her relatives are in show business. In other words, this woman had some publishing experience and probably knows from commercial. As for writing the book in 3 1/2 weeks, that tells me that she was absolutely in love with her story and characters, and trust me, that makes for fast writing, and lots of "story energy." I've had similar experiences (60 pages in one day, one book done in six weeks). It's rare, and boy, if I could bottle that zing, I would. Unfortunately, I can't summon it at will. I think it takes some kind of cosmic convergence.
But there's one more thing at the very, very end of the article that tells me she would have gotten her work published eventually, although perhaps not with such a sweet deal. She is quoted as saying, "I always loved writing, but until three years ago, I did not have the confidene to attempt it. But when I started to write, I knew immediately that I could do it. Even if the work was rejected, I still knew this was for me." She would not have given up too soon.
The writer's name is Tish Cohen, and her book is called Town House.
Read the article.