Monday, December 16, 2013

The Maze

So I had to learn a pretty tough lesson last week.  It’s not just about working with an author to make a manuscript better; it’s not just about finding an editor who believes in the story as much as you do; it’s the will of the gods.

After MONTHS of working on revisions and waiting on acquisitions, Gabrielle’s book got a pass from Bloomsbury.  Laura Whitaker, the fabulous editor who had been working with Gabby so closely on this project and who definitely gave everything she had trying to get it through, was devastated to tell me that the acquisitions board felt that although the manuscript had a lot of merit, they didn't feel that they could take on the book in its current form.  As a pretty awesome aside, however: Laura told me that the editor for CODE NAME VERITY read the manuscript and thought that Gabby's writing was beautiful and that the story had tremendous potential!

My other author Brianna also had to deal with the heartache of acquisitions meetings for her proposal, but this experience was a little different because Laura was just so invested in Gabby’s project.  She 100% loved it and wanted to be its editor, so it was a little daunting to realize that finding an editor like that isn't always enough to turn a manuscript into a printed (or digital) reality. 

It was also very hard to have to break the news to Gabby, but we ended up having a very positive, proactive discussion about our next steps.  

The most important thing is to never let go of the fact that you may just be one move away from the prize.  I've come to think of the process of getting a book published as being like navigating a maze.  You go forward, make wrong turns, and automatically backtrack and try something new until you come out on the other side.  We've hit a wall right now, but now we know to go in another direction.

I may not post again until the New Year, since Christmas and my birthday (New Year’s Eve) are going to feel like they’re happening right after each other, which they kind of are, so I want to end this post on an inspiring note.  At least I hope it’s inspiring.  In the words of Galaxy Quest, “Never give up!  Never surrender!”  You may end up hitting a lot of walls, but the important thing to remember is to keep playing the game.

More news (and more sales) in the New Year!  I’m making 2014 my best yet!  Fingers crossed for Beth Ellyn and Sara Joiner, two of my authors who are hopefully going to be taken to acquisition meetings in January!

Monday, December 9, 2013

December = Stress

It is officially holiday time!  This year is very different from last year, because I finished all my Christmas shopping in November (go me!), so now all I have to focus on before going home for Christmas and my birthday is following up with/hounding editors and reading manuscripts.

Which is actually kind of a big deal.  I still have people from the summer that I haven't heard back from about various projects; Gabby's book has been with acquisitions for I think around three months at this point; I'm trying to keep track of all the payments that I am waiting for publishers to send for Dan, Susan, Dean, and Brianna; and I have a lot of different things out on submission and I'm dying to sell all of them.  Slightly stressful.  

While most of the projects I have out right now are on their first round of submissions, meaning that there are plenty more rounds in their future, for some reason I am really panicked about trying to land them all with an editor RIGHT NOW.  Maybe because it's the end of the year and for some reason my subconscious doesn't think we're going to make it to 2014?  I have no idea.    

I had a long phone chat with my twin (who isn't really my twin, just one of my best friends who looks a lot like me) and she made my day by sending me chocolates, candy, and makeup in the mail.  I love her.  I should really be the one sending her stuff because she is in med school in Wisconsin, and I have to imagine that is much more stressful than what I'm doing.

She helped me come up with a plan for attacking all the follow ups I have to do.  The goal is to tackle one project at a time and email/call the editors I haven't gotten responses from until I have all my outstanding answers for that submission, and then move on to the next.  Kind of simple as far as plans go, but it makes my brain feel better.  

Hopefully I will be able to get all my answers before Christmas fever sets in.  Wish me luck!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Ones That Got Away

Back from my four-day Thanksgiving vacation and diving into work.  I have a lot of manuscripts I need to work on, and a few editors to follow up with before we get into the holiday no fly zone.  I've been going a little crazy catching up with emails in my inbox, and I'm hoping to start attacking follow up calls with editors.

I can't remember what made me think of this on the train ride back to the city--it was probably because of turkey coma--but somehow I was daydreaming a little bit about how agents don't always have their offers accepted.  The general impression people have is that agents are fairy godmothers and once you land one - poof! - you're done.  All you have to do now is give us wishes to grant.  I kind of thought this too when I first started working in the publishing industry.  Usually all authors are so enthusiastic when they receive offers of representation, that the first person I came across who politely said no thank you kind of blew my mind.

Of course, the fight to get a fairy grandmother is not an easy one, but people forget that agents fight to land authors, too.  In fact, I have three authors (and a fake fourth) who are my writers who got away.

The first two are Chuck McCutcheon and Dave Mark, who I met at an ASJA conference a couple years ago.  They were pitching their non-fiction proposal about how to decipher what Washington politicians say and even though I offered, like, a day after reading it, they ultimately went with a different agent.  I recently read on Publishers Marketplace that the agent sold it to Stephen Hull at University of New England Press, who I know, and my inner voice said, "ARGH!!!  We have that connection.  WE could have made that sale!!!" 

My other author who got away is Heather Webb, who is awesome.  I met her at a conference (I think it was Backspace) where she was part of a group first-pages critique session.  Her first pages were so good that I wanted to make an offer to her then and there, but I held off and asked her to send me the full manuscript.  I ended up wanting her to make some changes that she wasn't really into and she decided to sign with Michelle Brower over at Folio.  I just met Michelle recently at the Egmont holiday party who told me that Heather's book,BECOMING JOSEPHINE, is publishing this December with Penguin, so I can't wait to buy a copy and see how the book looks.  I'm sure it will be amazing!

I read a blog post once about how agents have arch-nemeses and in the most non-serious of ways, I think that Michelle might be mine.  I've had a few authors mention that she was also considering their projects when I emailed them with requests for fulls, and after reading her bio and briefly meeting her, I have a feeling that we have very similar tastes.  

Finally, my fake fourth author who got away is Jackson Pearce.  She is the author of a YA series of fairy tale retelling published by HarperCollins and has another book called TSARINA (which sounds great!) in the works.  I stumbled upon her blog when I was an intern at Writers House.  She didn't have an agent back then, and would write about her struggle to get one and about the book she was writing.  She was a fantastic, hilarious writer and I would think to myself as I read her posts, "Wait for me, Jackson!  I'm coming!"  But of course, she found an agent and a publisher long before I ever could have made her an offer.  That doesn't mean I don't still wish she were mine, haha.

But (here's a lovely realization), for every author I didn't get, I have ten WONDERFUL authors whom I love working with!  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of them and in the spirit of New York, it's time for me to get back to work!  More next week.  :)