Last night I got a mail from my publisher ( Buddhapuss Ink LLC, you know, the black cat on twitter), saying this:
"Before the layout is put to bed, would you like to add any acknowledgements?"
My instant reply was, "Good grief, no! This is a novel, not a dissertation!" And I sent it off.
That publisher's mailbox must be brimming with mails like this one from me, sent out on an impulse, without really thinking about what I'm saying, because almost immediately they get another one, and this one then goes: "Well, actually, after mulling it over for a while..." Note the "well". I appears often in my emails.
So last night, after first saying "No!" and brushing the suggestion off I sat here, and I started to wonder: Who do I want to thank, now that this first novel is really finished, edited, copyedited and whatever else, now that it's going into print?
Yes, yes, my family, my husband, my cat, my sons, my friends who encouraged, read, applauded, asked for more – all those. Of course. They had the patience, the trust, the love, to help me write "The Distant Shore". They gave me the space and the time to retreat and finish a novel.
Thank you for all that, my loved ones!
In the book, on the last page, where the acknowledgements are, I want to see something else.
It's easy to write a novel. All you have to do is sit down and do it. It's also easy to send it out and offer it to a publisher, there's no risk involved. The worst that can happen is that it will be returned, or ignored.
The fulcrum here is the moment when a publisher actually decides to ACCEPT the novel, and accept it from a total novice. There's an enormous risk involved. Will the author be good to work with? Will the editing, the entire publishing process, go smoothly, will she work fast enough, do what she is told to do, help with the marketing, be willing to step out, do active promoting?
A publisher sinks money into a book when they decide to sign it. A whole lot. They expect a return.
Now here's where my "thank you" comes in.
I'm that total novice. I'm the author this publisher risked signing. My book is ready to go into print. We worked our way through it, most of the time without struggles (I hope; it didn't feel like struggling), and the sequel is well on the way.
So I wrote that second mail, the one that began with "well", and here is what it said:
Well… if I WERE to add an acknowledgment… it would be this:
The fact that you, as my reader, are able to hold this book in your hand now proves that serendipity really exists. To me, it came in the shape of a black cat following me on twitter one day. It turned out to be my future publisher, who, with patience, a great sense of humor and a good dose of friendship gave me the time and space to shape this story into something you would want to read.My thanks go out to MaryChris Bradley of Buddhapuss Ink who edited The Distant Shore, and taught me to be an author along the way.
And this is what you will read on the last page of my book.