Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Fastening My Seat Belt
I'm taking off! Finally! I'm ecstatic to be announcing that, after 8 years, 7 novels, and 441 queries later (detail below* in case anyone's interested), I have--ta da--a publishing contract! This happened so quickly, after all these years, that my head is spinning and I'm still kind of numb.
Here's how it happened for me. I noticed several Guppies being published by Mainly Murder Press. I bought a couple of the books, saw that they were nicely edited and produced--good covers even--but lamented that they only accepted submissions from writer in the Northeast US.
Then the publisher opened up to accept submissions from other parts of the country and, after only a brief hesitation, I jumped in. (See my blog from July 28th called THINKING ABOUT A NEW JOURNEY.) They were accepting submissions only until July 31st for next year, so I had to do it now or never.
I submitted to them July 26th and, voila, in sixteen short days, I became a published author. Well, an author slated for publication anyway. My first three chapters made the cut, then my whole project made it past the two readers--the next step.
The offer came in an email on August 5th. I didn't answer right away, thinking I should let it sink in and ponder what this meant.
I checked the next morning and that email was still there! I hadn't dreamt it. The email had recommended consulting my advisors, so I replied that I likely would return the contract next week.
To be fair to the agents who had partials and fulls (and in the hopes one would jump to represent me), I began emailing them. Two had full manuscripts and two had partials. I was shocked to find out, when I checked them on Query Tracker (querytracker.net), that one of them died on July 7th! So I emailed the remaining three. The one who has had my full since April 25th apologized for taking so long and congratulated me, then offered to help. She asked who the publisher was, what advance they were offering, and if I'd accepted the offer yet.
I replied with the name of the publisher and said they offered royalties, no advance, and that I hadn't signed yet because I still have several submissions out. I told her I didn't think the deal would include anything for her, without an advance, but that if she could get me something better it would be wonderful.
She said she still hasn't read my manuscript, but offered to negotiate the contract for either a flat fee or a percentage of royalties, and potentially represent future titles. Even thought she hasn't read the manuscript, she thought it needed some changes! Since the contract is non-negotiable and is clear and easy to understand (and is even posted on their webpage), I don't need any help with it (although the agent says contracts are always negotiable), I told her I would accept the offer.
Since there was a deadline for returning the contract, I asked the agents to get back to me by the 10th, but I never heard back from the others.
There remained one publisher who had a submission, so I emailed them, printed out the contract, signed it, and put it in the mail today. Whoopee!!!
My novel, CHOKE, will be out in trade paperback May of 2011. That's a beautiful sentence.
*First two novels, no records of my queries--and that's just as well
queries from my spreadsheets:
SONG OF DEATH 2002-2007, 133 agents
REQUIEM FOR RED, sequel to SONG OF DEATH 2007-2008, 77 agents
DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE (queried at first as adult mystery, mostly as YA)
2008-2010, 160 agents
2009-2010, 65 agents
I'm now working on SMOKE, the partially finished sequel to CHOKE.