Unquiet Mind of a Writer In-between

I never post this late at night, but the RS is out in California, I’m bored, and I have an unquiet mind.

I’m trying really hard to be patient with this querying process. Having worked on Naked Alliances for two years, you would think that another span of time wouldn’t make much difference, and yet it does.

I had myself psyched up to self-publish. So much energy goes into that process. So many rewrites and revisions, edits and proofs accomplished. My beta readers, author friends, editor, and blog readers have supported me through the book building process and shared in my trials and tribulations along the way.

Holding a book cover contest at 99Designs with 117 entries…getting them to turn the corner from hard core graphics to a light touch of humor without going overboard into comedic took weeks. Finalizing and purchasing a cover image with a few more tweaks from the designer and I felt I was good to go. The ms needed formatting with a TOC and fleurons for scene breaks. I had someone set to get the work done.

Now, all that effort might have been for naught. If I can get an agent for this work, the agent still has to sell it, and the buyer may (most likely will) want an entirely different cover.

I was all set to have the cover image imposed on a Facebook and Twitter banner and revved up to keep the momentum going for the book’s release. I haven’t been posting heavily since my father died, but I have been writing some posts in reserve for a blog tour that I had planned to initiate. Of course, without knowing what the cover will look like if the book is picked up, that’s all on hold.

Recently, I read a post on Janet Reid, Literary Agent’s blog wherein she explained to another reader that, “Publishing works on a long lead time. Right now, I’m selling books in to Fall 2017 catalog and Winter 2018 lists. You’ve missed the window completely for Fall 2016.”

My heart sank a few feet. Really? That long?

So, even if my agent partner (which I don’t have yet) and I found a publisher today (Haha!), Naked Alliances may not see the light of day for another year or two? Ouch!

Tonight I received my query response from Ms. Reid: “Right now my list is very full, and I’m fortunate that business is very good so I have to pass on projects that are not only good and publishable, but ones I really like. I strongly encourage you to query widely. Other agents have more room on their lists and are able to take on more than I can. Please think of this as redirection to another agent, not a rejection.”

Well, it might be a bit generic, but it was pleasant enough not to make me cry. Knowing that she has a reputation for calling out folk when things are really rotten, I’m taking this as a win 🙂

Trying to stay in the positive, I’ve read over the fleshed-out outline of Book Two in The Naked Eye Series and feel confident that I can have the first draft completed by late-June. Sooner if we weren’t heading off for a couple of weeks to Anna Marie Island in April.

I’m reading now and don’t like to read and write at the same time. When I do, I find myself distracted from having too many stories going on in my head. I have a few novels I want to get through over the next couple of weeks. Next Friday I have a minor surgery and won’t be back at the keyboard for a couple more weeks, except for brief posts and book reviews.

Keeping the Faith!

57 thoughts on “Unquiet Mind of a Writer In-between

  1. Wow. Hang in there, Susan. 🙂
    I’m wondering why you’re querying agents, when you’ve already published. I realize I probably missed a post somewhere down the line, so if you’d redirect me… I ask because I’m so on the fence myself on whether to self-publish or do the waiting thing.

    • I self-published Red Clay and Roses in 2013. It was literary fiction, not commercial genre fiction. I’ve sold roughly 2000 copies in three years with mountains of marketing and promotion. I would have liked to have gotten at least 5000 sold, but that didn’t happen. There were so many marketing avenues closed to me as a self-published author in a large city. Small towns seem to be a bit friendlier and more receptive. I intended to self-publish Naked Alliances, but had a change of heart…or mind…or whatever. The work was well-received at the Sleuthfest convention. My hope is to find an agent and get this series started with a publishing house. I believe going traditional with the series provides better exposure allowing the book/series to be reviewed and supported through means not available to the self-published. It’s a business move geared toward establishing myself in my market. I feel that can best be accomplished through traditional publishing.

    • Crickets, right? At least with, “No,” you know to move on. I have been very fortunate that, so far, I received most kind responses. I’m at the very beginning of all of this…don’t know how long I can hold out…or even if I should. But I’m giving it my best shot.

        • I absolutely refuse to edit Naked Alliances anymore. It is what it is unless a publishing house sends it through an edit that needs things tweaked. That, I understand, is highly likely. They know what will sell and what won’t. I did revise my query letter and synopses since my first queries at Sleuthfest. Shortened them up and tightened the writing.

            • I am querying for an agent. I did query one acquisitions editor I met at Sleuthfest, but haven’t heard back from her. For most publishing you need an agent to move your work. Even in adult fiction, it has become next to impossible to traditionally publish without an agent. I learned from the agents and acquisitions editors at Sleuthfest that they receive anywhere from 140-200 submissions a week. That’s a tremendous amount of material to process.

                • That’s the number of submissions that agents receive weekly looking for representation. They have to wade through the queries to see if anything looks interesting enough to to request a manuscript or partial manuscript and synopsis for further review. Then, they have all the ms and partials and synopses to wade through…keeping an eye out for a worthy project to take on. It’s no wonder many writers never hear back a word. I understand that it’s pretty special just to receive a polite rejection…or as Ms. Reid would say, “Redirection to another agent.”

                    • You know that’s right! And there are soooo many sharks out there just waiting to feed. Since I started querying agents from online sources, I have been approached by so many “coaches” offering me their $1200.00 services for $300.00 if I only act right now! Supposedly, after just a one hour coaching session, a review of my manuscript, synopsis, and query letter…they can magically “almost” guarantee results. Mind you there are no promises, and tons of testimonials. It’s hard to know what to be skeptical of and what to believe when notable authors sing their praises. “This coach sent me an email with a list of specific agents to query and within a few days I had a contract!” Hmmm. Give time time.

                    • You can spend your advance before you even get it. On the other hand, I have heard that hiring an editor, coach, etc is a good idea. Many of them were editors or agents before becoming coaches. I think authors should unionize. Most of us are dirt poor, and yet everyone wants us to spend, spend, spend on things that were traditionally handled by publishing houses — copyediting, publicizing, marketing, platform development. Who has time to write?

  2. The long lead time for traditional publishing is one of the big reasons I just don’t want to go that route. But at the same time, as a means of motivating me, I’m thinking of sending queries for Northville Five and Dime out and see if there’s any interest. So … it’s just a constant push and pull. I totally get how you’re feeling. I do know this though … if I could get an agent or a publishing deal, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try.

    • Precisely…Like Reid said, her list is full, business is good…that also means there is a lot of competition out there to be picked up. If the series happens to be the sort of thing an agent feels will be a worthy project or might even fit the bill for a particular publisher they are already familiar with…who knows? That’s why they are in the business of representing authors…they often have the inside story on what is moving and why. How will I know if I don’t try?

    • Things have a way of working like that, don’t they? Seriously, my original plan was to have four books finished before I ever published the first. Then I got antsy and decided to self-publish. Then I hesitated and decided to query and give traditional publishing a chance. Now I may end up waiting until I have four books in this series completed before I ever get an agent to represent the project. And you know what? That may just be what was supposed to happen all along. 🙂

      • Even though I truly believe this, please don’t think I was dismissing the frustration and anticipation of having to wait. There are times that I feel that my whole life is out of sync with my timeline for living. Hah. Comments and advice like this are easy to give, but not as easy to live. Just remember that you have written a book – you’ve accomplished something that very few others will ever accomplish. Continued prayers that the publishing process will speed up a bit for you.

        • Oh no, I didn’t get that at all. I’m encouraged by the support and appreciate the prayers. I didn’t sleep well last night. It’s not just the publishing process that has my mind riding the waves. We have quite a few personal things going on right now with trying to help some young people in our community through some tough times. I’m feeling a bit overextended at the moment. It will all come together for the best in the end. I’m sure of that. But please do keep the prayers coming. ❤

  3. Right now I am still waiting for a publisher who expressed interest in Catskinner’s Book to make a firm decision of whether or not they want it. They’ve been trying to decide for almost a year now.

  4. Well, I don’t think any of your work with beta readers, polishing, editing,etc., went to waste. That gives you the best product for submission to agents and editors.It depends on the pubbing house, but when a book is accepted it’s usually out within 12-18 months. I had MYTH AND MAGIC accepted in April of 2014 and it released in May OF 2015. A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS

    • Oh,no, no, no! I write this late last night and may not have made myself clear. It’s the spending on the cover I was referring to as wasted. All that other stuff is pure gold!

  5. Ooops! Actually hit post before I was done. DOH!

    Anyway, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS was accepted in May of 2015 and will publish this April. Series books have shorter release times. As an example book II of my Point Pleasant series is due to my editor 3/31/15 and will release in December of this year. The third book in the series which is due in the winter/fall of this year will release in the summer of 2017. With a series, my publisher won’t go more than 8 months between releases because they want to keep the momentum going.

  6. I did a year or two of that, and just don’t have the ability to wait in the corner. I had 3+ usable manuscripts when I decided to self publish. I know I could do better with a publishing deal, but maybe I can make it up in volume. My friends who’ve gone the traditional route seem to be doing very well with their books.

  7. I received the same letter from Janet Reid. Since she’s known as the Query Shark, you should definitely take that as a win. I did. The process sucks; it’s true. But you’ve got to give it your best shot. Otherwise you’ll always wonder “What if?” I can tell you the worst thing I ever did was to wait and do nothing. Submit direct to publishers. If you get a yes, you can then write to the agents and say, “I’ve got an offer of publication…” Then watch them scramble to read your manuscript right away. 😀 It works.

  8. As long as you want to go the traditional route you are going to have to try and be patient. I would not wait for the queries you have sent so far. I would build a list of agents and query about 10 at a time. This will require a lot of work on your part but the one and two query process just doesn’t work. Writing the second book is always a good idea.

  9. Be encouraged by that agent response, but don’t hang around in hope. Research agents and publishers open to non-solicited submissions and get your baby out there (three chapters/synopsis/query. Fingers & toes crossed for you here. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 😉

  10. Yes, that was a very positive response! Only thing worse than being a writer is being an actor. We have to be happy when we don’t get outright rejections!

  11. More writers are going the self-publishing route, S.K. There’s no shame in it anymore. At one time, many moons ago, self-publishing was for the desperate scribe; those who just who just couldn’t find the right niche or those who just couldn’t get the message that their stuff wasn’t good enough to see the light of day.

    Now we know that good writing – fiction or non-fiction – can come from anywhere and from anyone. It’s still purely subjective. But traditional book editors and publishers are starting to sweat as they realize they no longer have omnipotent control of the publishing industry. Their ivory towers are slowly crumbling. Self-publishing puts the power of the written word back into the hands of those who can do it justice: the writers and the readers.

    • I’m still debating. I’m going to give it 90…maybe 120 days, and if I don’t get an agent, I’ll do what I did the first time…only this time I have three years of experience behind me. 🙂

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