I’m well enough now to appreciate what I have in life and to take advantage. As a pregnant woman, I have a natural deadline to sort out my life – or in my case, my various manuscripts. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been sorting out who should be in the first group of people to see my steampunk novel, what I can improve in books I haven’t looked at for a while, and where I should send each of my manuscripts next.
Publishers, editors and agents all love their work in much the same passionate, not-financially-secure way that writers do (the idea of the wealthy publisher gleefully throwing brilliant books in the rubbish is simply not true). For the most part, I’ve had positive experiences with all of them. On the other hand, passion, courage, and hope are traits that often don’t go hand in hand with reliablility, efficiency, and realism. Which means that sometimes, publishers take far longer to make a decision than they should.
It’s flattering that so many publishers spend so much time with my books, but right now one of Austalia’s largest publishers has had a book of mine for almost THREE YEARS – and another of the top five Australian publishers has had just the first three chapters of another book for eleven months. I’ll be contacting both of them towards the end of this month, but honestly I’m not expecting much. (If anything, this is a cautionary tale about making contacts in the biz – both of these are publishers at which I’ve made personal face to face contact. In my experience, the slushpile is much, much faster – and with just as high a rate of full-manuscript requests.)
Which is why I’m so delighted with Publisher A. Publisher A has always been my first choice of publisher (another of the top five Australian companies), and they’ve read about eight of my books in full (usually when closed to submissions), and given me extremely useful feedback every time. Whenever I email my contact (who I’ve never physically met, although I’ve introduced myself to someone who works with her) she responds enthusiastically within 24 hours, and asks me to send the latest full manuscript. (This happened again yesterday, inspiring this blog entry. Then she replied again – within 24 hours once more – to say it had arrived safely and to thank me for giving them the chance to look at it.) They almost always reply within six months, which I consider a pefectly reasonable amount of time for several people to read a book and make a decision. When one of my books was passed on to the acquisitions meeting, my contact was so excited she emailed to tell me. (It didn’t pass that final hurdle, but oh well. I agree with their reason for refusing, and have since fixed it. That’s the same book I’ve been waiting on elsewhere for three years.)
I’m also delighted with America. So far, every single person I’ve spoken to (via email) about my steampunk novel has responded promptly and positively. The positively doesn’t surprise me – the “promptly” certainly does. To be fair, it’s not Australia’s fault that it has slower response times – the American system is simply different (for one thing, agents in America almost always have assistants, whereas Australian agents don’t earn enough and need to deal with all their myriad tasks alone). But from where I’m standing, it’s a beautiful thing.
And now I’m off to have a different kind of professional take a good long look inside my belly. See you!
PS Today is the first day of Spring! Yeeeeeeeehah!
PPS I am forming plans for a small but awesome zombie walk within the next two months. Details soon! (And of course there will be MANY pictures for those who can’t join in.)