From Agent to Book Deal

Things I was expecting on 2 September, 2015: 

  1. To start my retail job at the Body Shop. I'd just gotten home after an exchange semester in Europe and - now flat broke - I needed to save some money before my next exchange semester in Hong Kong. 

Things I wasn't expecting:

  1. To sell my book. 

I'd been back in Australia for a month and OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS had been on submission with editors in the US for just over a week. I knew it could sometimes take months for books to find homes at publishing houses. I knew that sometimes they never sold at all.

And so, ever the realist, I got a job. A real job. I'd done some training the day before, learned the correct technique for applying body butter to customer's hands etc., and, on that fateful Tuesday, I was set to have my first shift on the floor. With customers. *shudders*

Then The Call happened. It came at 7am in the morning. (Actually I think I missed several earlier calls from my agent, Catherine Drayton, before the vibrating finally woke me up.)

There's nothing quite like the panic of checking your phone to see five missed calls from your agent when you're on sub. Your first thought: OMG SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY MY BOOK. Quickly followed by your second thought: One of the editors hated it so much that they died of a heart attack. Third thought: ALL OF THE EDITORS DIED. I KILLED ALL OF THE EDITORS IN NEW YORK WITH MY TERRIBLENESS AND NOW I'M GOING TO BE ARRESTED FOR MURDER. And so on and so forth, ad infinitum. 

Catherine's eventual message to me when she finally reached me: GET OUT OF BED SOMEONE IS GOING TO OFFER YOU A PREEMPT YOU NEED TO TALK TO THEM RIGHT NOW WAKE UP. (Actually she was probably very calm and composed and brilliant and badass, as is her style.)

I spent the next 30 minutes pacing in my bedroom in my PJs while I chatted to Stacey Barney from Putnum. As soon as the line connected, I knew I wanted her to be my editor. Sometimes you just click with people, and sometimes people just click with your writing. With Stacey, I was lucky enough to experience both. She was so enthusiastic and said such incredible things about my writing, but more than anything, she just got it. She got the characters, she got the story. 

It was the phone call I'd spent seven years of my life working toward. Then, as soon as it was over, I had to get ready for work. 

I gave Catherine the landline number of the Body Shop just in case the offer came through while I was at work and she needed to reach me urgently. (Looking back, I probably should've just kept my phone on me while I was on the floor, but I wanted to make a good impression!) 

A few minutes into my shift, the landline rang. I was with a customer, but as soon as I heard, "She's busy at the moment, would you like to hold?" I knew. I KNEW. I don't think I've ever turned a customer off buying a product so quickly before. 

("This will give you hives. Everything in the store will give you hives. GET OUT.")

This is the conversation Catherine and I had (in the back room of the Body Shop) after she told me about Putnam's offer:

Krystal: "Holy shit."

Catherine: "I know."

Krystal: "Holy. Shit."

Catherine: "I know."

Krystal: "HOLY. SHIT."

Catherine: "I KNOW." 

I accepted the offer without a second thought, partly because OH MY GOD but mostly because it just felt right. The first person I told about my newly minted book deal was my (less than pleased looking) manager (I had been swearing in the backroom on a personal call 5 minutes into my first shift). She was very happy for me, but told me I wasn't allowed to quit. 

...And then I had to spend the rest of the best day of my life rubbing salt and moisturiser on the skin of total strangers. (Although I did celebrate later that night with champagne and Thai takeout and an episode of The Bachelor with my family, so it was a pretty damn good day all in all.) 

And that, friends, is the story of my book deal!