For a quick link to the photos and stories in my "When I Told..." series, just click My Wife, Eve, My Parents, or Robin.
Razorbill? Isn’t that the name of a scary looking bird? Yes, it is. But it’s also the name of Penguin’s kick-ass teen imprint. And their logo, the one seen above, is going to be printed on the spine of my very first published book. Say it with me now…Woo-Hoo!!!
So how did I get The Call? Was it, “Hi, is Jay Asher there? Jay, this is Kristen calling from Razorbill. Are you sitting down?” No, it was a bit more…unusual. I checked my phone on my lunch break and saw that I had two new messages. The first was from my agent asking me nicely to call her back because we’d just received an offer. The second was also from my agent, this time telling me to call her back because we’d just received a second offer.
Last week, Razorbill and two other publishing houses squared off in what I have come to call The Battle of the Book. The rules of engagement, as set up by Referee Rennert (a.k.a. my agent), went as follows:
1. Slap your bids on the table.
2. Show us your marketing.
3. Place a call to the author.
Here’s how Rule #1 went down:
(today, the role of Variable X will be played by Variable $)
1. Contestant A offers an advance valued at $.
2. Contestant B counters with $ + ($ x ½).
3. Contestant A roars back into the lead with a staggering $ x 5.
4. Not to be outdone, Contestant B whips out the ol’ $ x 7½.
5. Wait…who’s that?…it looks like…it is!…here comes Contestant C with $ x 10.
6. Having none of that, Contestant A digs down deep to match the $ x 10.
7. But it’s not over yet, folks. Contestant B gets a second wind and we’re neck and neck with a three-way $ x 10. This one’s gonna be a photo finish.
8. And would you look at that…all three contestants are waving 2-book contracts!
Phew! Just typing that not-so-instant replay made me sweaty all over again. When I told Gregory K. about the auction, and after we were done celebrating, he asked, “Do you remember how it felt when the offer was still at $?” “It felt amazing,” I replied. “That’s what you need to remember,” he said. What a profound guy! (Of course, he then hit me up for some cash cuz he’s a smart guy, too.) But the great thing about having the editors come in with matching advances meant I was able to concentrate on the other details without being swayed by my well-fed credit card bill.
Speaking to each editor on the phone was wonderful. I came away with the impression that children’s book editors are some of the coolest people in the world. In the future, I would love the opportunity to hang out with each of them without having to worry about pitching myself to them…or having them pitch themselves to me. How weird is that? With past submissions, editors told me I was the one who wasn’t right for them. But last week they were telling me why they were right for me. Just when I thought I had this business figured out…
So my first book will be a Razorbill book. And my next YA will also be a Razorbill book. (If you have any ideas for a YA…any ideas at all!…please shoot me an e-mail.) They’re hoping to have my book out in Fall ’07, but you don’t need to write that down. Based on their marketing strategy, anyone within 20 miles of a bookshelf is gonna know it’s on its way. The title will likely change between now and then, but it’s currently titled Baker’s Dozen: The AudioBiography of Hannah Baker. As a demonstration of Razorbill’s marketing creativity, they submitted a 13-point Marketing Plan.
13-point…Baker’s Dozen…get it? Ha!
But enough about Razorbill. Let’s talk about me! More specifically, my wife, my parents, and my friends. They’re the real stars of this miraculous turn of events. They’ve been encouraging me for almost…oh…a baker’s dozen or so years since I first enrolled in a children’s lit. appreciation class. It was there that I wrote two picture books as part of an assignment. Soon thereafter, I made the announcement, “I want to be a children’s book writer.” From way back then till now, none of them ever said “Why?” or “You?” or “It’s never going to happen.” All they ever said was, to quote Rob Schneider, “You can do it!”
I wish you all could have been there to witness firsthand their beautiful rush of emotions when I told my wife, my parents, and my fellow Disco Mermaids that they were right.
Instead, I’ll have to show you. Over the next four days, I’d like to share with you some photographs capturing the above mentioned people when first told that their years of encouragement had finally paid off. If you’re a fan of joy, surprise, or tears, you won’t want to miss it.
The book will be released in Fall 2007 with the title 13 Reasons Why.