It was mid-January 2021.
I was doing really well with my New Year’s resolutions, primarily because I hadn’t made any (don’t we have enough to deal with already, without trying to be even better? I’ll just keep being true to myself, thank you very much).
And then, I got the email. Less than a week later, it led to the official video call:
A book deal!
In my post back in August, I described the whole glorious and daunting thing, so I’ll pick up where I left things, and tell you what’s been going on since then.
The book cover
What I love about working with Wattpad (among many things), is how much they’re willing to involve me in the process. They gave me the opportunity to fill out a book cover brief in advance, detailing all the elements I was hoping to see, and flagging all the elements that usually make me vomit when I see romantic comedy book covers (the couple making out, the woman being so dolled up it’s completely unrelatable, etc.). That didn’t mean I’d get everything I wanted—since the final decision is not mine to make—it simply meant that my input would be considered, which was nice.
I suspect most publishers offer that initial input, but what followed is what really made me feel like they value my thoughts. The book cover went through a couple of iterations that were vastly different from one another, and remarkably, I was able to give detailed feedback on each one. In the end, when I compared the final cover to my original brief, it was so heartening to see how well it lined up with what I wanted—along with some cool direction from the sales team, on what they feel will be appealing on physical bookshelves and online.
As a woman of colour (please read that in Mindy Kaling’s voice), it’s so wonderful to see “POC-ness” reflected on a romcom book cover, because a quick scroll online will tell you that it doesn’t happen often enough. It especially doesn’t happen often enough in a way that doesn’t feel like tokenism.
On that note, I am so thankful to Wattpad Books for at no point pushing me into making the character seem Indian in a stereotypical way on the book cover. That, in turn, has allowed the cover to more accurately reflect what’s inside the book. My main character—like myself—has a South Asian (specifically Indian) background, but she—as well as I—don’t spend weekdays guzzling chutney or weeknights sashaying around in fancy embroidered saris. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my culture, but it’s a part of me, not all of me. That’s the same level of realness I aim to bring to the stories I write these days, whereas in the past, my self-published books were admittedly more entrenched in Indian culture. I suppose that happened because the books of the past were a vivid reflection of my life back then—i.e. the plot of the first book was literally about avoiding an arranged marriage, hashtag awkwardly relatable.
It was great working through all that shit back then (what fun!), but now I’ve settled into the everyday reality of being a brown girl in a North American world; it’s the world that reflects being light-hearted yet dramatic, multi-faceted yet obsessive, westernized yet culturally diverse, and messy as fuck!
The main character in 24 Hours in Paris has a cutting sense of humour, is obsessed with the City of Light, deeply believes in wearing casual clothes and flat shoes for touristy endeavours, enjoys wine, and is horny for scenic picnics (aren’t we all?). She’s also reeling from the recent upheaval of her personal life, and when the book comes out, you’ll be able to read all about it. In short, the cover reflects the reality of the character, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Oh yeah, there’s a guy on the book cover too, and while I certainly endorse him as a worthy male lead, we all know who the real star is (just sayin’).
The two of them are Mira and Jake, or Mira then Jake, or me before you, or whatever encompasses the woman being dominant and way more important (haha kidding, equality, yay!). Yes, these are your two romantic leads in 24 Hours in Paris. And yes, you’ll be able to read entire chapters from each of their perspectives.
And…*drumroll*…you’ll get to follow them around for a twenty-four-hour romantic Parisian adventure on May 10th!
The book release date
24 Hours in Paris will be online and in bookstores on May 10th! I know, I just said that, but it bears repeating, as it’s a pretty exciting fucking thing. You can preorder the book at Indigo and Amazon in Canada, at Barnes and Noble and Amazon in the US, and at Amazon in the UK. You can also preorder it directly from Wattpad if you’re in the US. It will also be available at independent bookstores and libraries in North America on May 10th, and if becomes available anywhere else, I’ll let you know on social media.
Physical advance reader copies
As you’ll recall from my last post, signing this book deal meant an overhaul; a total re-outline and a page-one rewrite to transform these characters from college students in the original story, to seasoned adults who have been through some shit in the reboot. I don’t even know how I re-did the outline and finished that draft by the end of July (after only beginning the process in April), but somehow I got there, and somehow, after one structural edit, a line edit, and then a final line edit (which my obsessive ass relished every minute of), we have a cleaned up version that is going into final copy edits as we speak—and, more importantly, that is now available on NetGalley for reviewers to request!
That last edit was completed, oh, five days ago (I’m still sweating), and we needed to hit those deadlines so we could make physical, juicy, advance-reader copies, because yes, I have been told that due to the exciting sales potential of this book, the marketing and sales team want physical advance reader copies; yay!
And so, if you’re a book reviewer on Instagram, TikTok, a blog, YouTube (or some other platform my withered old self hasn’t heard of), and you’re looking for a different kind of rom com, you can request a free review copy on NetGalley now.
Where I’m at now
Like I said, it’s been a mere five days since completing the 2021 book-deal-rollercoaster that kicked off in January. I’m definitely still sweating and my brain’s a little fried, but I’m here. Upon reflection, perhaps things would’ve been easier if I hadn’t embarked on extra obsessive things that weren’t part of the contract. Things like doing an 8-page marketing plan complete with a table of contents, so the publisher would know exactly where my head was at, to maximize collaboration. Or things like launching a weekly #24QuotesFrom24HoursInParis on both Twitter and TikTok. If not for those things, I likely would’ve had a little more energy on this Monday evening of December 20th, 2021.
But I am who I am, super extra all the time.
Despite my deep-rooted character traits, I’ve managed to stay involved in the usual human things.
Bringing back the bold lip and feeling fancy
The 2020 version of the holidays was horrid, and even though these holidays, while briefly wild and free, are retreating into that limited-gathering landscape, I’m impressed that I was able to freshen up my sweaty self long enough to slather on a bold dark lip, and even have some fancy-bar fun (on multiple nights, no less; just wild!).
The love of baking lives on
No one would have blamed me for skipping out on the baking this year, and yet, this past Saturday, I found myself spending nine freakin’ hours in the kitchen, baking all the things. I suppose it’s okay for one to feel occasionally exhausted by one’s endeavours, if said endeavours align with the things one loves. I believe this applies to baking just as much as writing.
And so, here we are, at the end of another up-and-down year.
While I’d love for you to now preorder my book—as the pre-launch demand helps authors very much‚ please only do so if you have some extra budget after helping out your favourite charities. Because, after all, it’s the season of giving. If you need some ideas on where to direct your donations, my post from last December can help you get started.
And with that, I bid farewell to 2021. It was a challenging year for society as a whole, but I’ll allow myself to say it was a special one personally, in terms of this lifelong book dream coming true.
I’m leaving the year feeling grateful, and even though I don’t really blog very often, I have a feeling I’ll have more to say before the launch of 24 Hours in Paris on May 10th.
Be well, and stay tuned,
2 thoughts on “Bookending 2021 with: A Book Deal, and a Freakin’ Finished Manuscript!”
Can’t believe I’ve met a Wattpad author before, but now I have! So nice to hear about your experience, and it’s inspirational that you’ve gotten your book deal. All the best with your book, Romi!
Thank you so much!