When Sophie’s Choice was released, I went with a date to see it. I didn’t check reviews; I just heard about a great actress. I spent the last half of the movie sobbing and scared the bejeezus out of my date (especially since I had to drive her home). My mother had told me that story, in gory detail, from her multiple personal experiences with the Nazi “selektion” at Auschwitz. Cue “triggering.”
My series, under a nom-de-plum, is finally back in process, after a bout of reality-induced depression and anxiety courtesy of religious fundamentalists in all branches of government. Oh, and nazis. They’re feeling empowered more and more. “This can only end in tears” — ancient parental saying. This was compounded by my having a discussion with a publicist who refused to work with me on the series because the owner is pro-life. (And apparently Jewish practices are anti-life, but I’ll let that one lie.)
So I’m close on the release date of the next book in that series, but having said it would be in “the fall of 2022,” that’s not a small bullseye target.
To restart my engine I returned to a novel I’d completed in first draft, shown to a couple of folks, and knew I needed to make many changes. It’s a YA fantasy novel, with a large world-building component (points a finger at Marshall Maresca’s thoughts and work on that topic).Getting magic right is tricky. Don’t know if I nailed it, but I’ll be reaching out to a few readers in the next couple of weeks.
Last post I talked about the uncertainty of “that time” between an agent submitting a manuscript to a publisher and when a writer gets a response from the publisher in the form of a rejection or a contract.
Thing the First: A Conversation on Time on Cusp
I posed these questions to Marshall Ryan Maresca, a local Austin published author:
- Is there a correlation between the number of requests for a full manuscript and the possibility that it’ll get picked up?
- Are there months where publishers generally make decisions on contracting to publish a novel?
- How long would a publisher sit on a manuscript they’ve asked for before coming back with a decision? I’d heard a few snippets back at the last ‘Con, but… you’ve been through the grinder a few times now.
“Man, let me tell you, that interstitial period in a writers career, where you’ve made that massive level-up achievement of Getting An Agent, but still haven’t sold… it’s rough. And it is just because you’re in limbo. You’ve got people asking for it, so that’s good. But it can just take forever. I mean, it was about two and half years for me. [Author], I think four. As for months when things happen and when they don’t? I mean it all depends. I hear that a lot DOESN’T happen in the summer months, for example, because editors are often going to cons and such each weekend. I know that it was about a year between when my agent sent Thorn to [publisher] and when she started reading it, and she really didn’t read it until I went up and said a polite hello at WorldCon. And my agent was just telling me a story of one editor who kept going, “Yeah, I know, I’m going to read that soon” on someone else’s manuscript for years. I think Martha Wells made the joke of “glaciers honk at the publishing industry to move faster.”
“(But, on the flip side, you get something like [another author], whose agent sold his manuscript a week after signing him.)Thus, the big unhelpful answer is, “Who knows, man?”
Thing the Second: Odds of Getting Agent Representation
Wrapping This Up
My agent’s gotten ten query letters out to qualified publishers. Three of the five sent out around Thanksgiving asked for full manuscripts. This past Monday my agent sent another five. Two of those five asked, within a day or so of the query letter, for a complete manuscript. Don’t have feedback on the other three. So now there’s five publishers looking at the novel, all of which imprints for the top publishers in the fiction biz. And while on one hand this sounds like “great progress” and is nice to hear, I don’t have any way to quantify this. Previous Armadillocon panels addressed the time to acceptance, but not the numbers part of publishers in waiting. While JK Rowling sugarplum auction fantasies dance in my head (but I harbor no delusions as to any comparisons between that and my novels), I don’t know what this “top five are reading” means in terms of getting closer to closing a deal.
Calling on wise women and men if they have ideas. Comment, or blog on your own and let me know.