Today, the first client I signed up, as a literary agent, has her debut novel published by Tor US.
Sam Hawke's fantasy novel CITY OF LIES came into me on submission on 14th May 2015. I still have the original submission form in which Sam queried whether I'd like to read her book. She didn't actually include the submission (Ahem - not something I'd normally recommend) but the shoutline was intriguing enough - along with the blurb she'd provided - for me to ask her to send it in: Protect the family. Preserve your honour. Guard your secrets. For two centuries these rules have bound Jovan’s family; in a few short weeks, he will break them all.
It was enough to make me take a quick glance at the first line, which hasn't changed a single word throughout extensive editorial process: I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me.
By this stage, Sam had already had an offer of representation so I had to move quickly in finishing my read, but I loved it. I went back and threw my hat into the ring as well after asking if she'd be happy to do some 'minor editorial work to it' - a sentiment that I'm sure Sam will be happy to tell you was a slight understatement once we got into the editorial process. :-)
We went through a few drafts of editing. At my heart, this is something I love to do and it's always exciting to work with someone who is happy to take your editorial feedback and run with it. Sam's been a dream to work with on the text (although she may have been cursing me all the time under her breath). The book went out on submission in Spring 2016 and in Autumn 2016 we had an offer from Diana Gill over at Tor US. Having recently just joined Tor, it was her first book deal for the company and my first client so there was a lovely shared feeling of euphoria for us all!
There were more edits from Diana (probably a bit more cursing from Sam) and then the book also sold to Simon Taylor over at Transworld earlier this year. And finally, over three years after Sam originally sent her book to me - CITY OF LIES hits the bookshelves, in the US and ANZ, today. UK peeps you'll have just a little longer to wait as it's due out here on 23rd August. So yes, the whole publishing process can take its own sweet time!
There's been a really nice buzz building about the book. We've had amazing quotes from authors including Robin Hobb, Terry Brooks, John Gwynne, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Kate Elliott. It's on the Best SFF for July on Amazon, i09, Goodreads and B&N - and it's been getting terrific feedback from the bloggers. Which, as you can imagine - after all the hard work - is particularly satisfying for a very excited debut author (and an equally excited agent)!
So if you like fantasy that breaks down stereotypes, offers original voices and kicks discrimination in the ass - all set against a brilliantly crafted world and with lots of pace and action - then please do pick up a copy and leave a review. The more you support it, the more Tim-Tams Sam will be able to buy. And EVERYBODY loves a Tim-Tam!