Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Still Searching . . .





So. Here’s my New Year’s news. Just before Christmas my agent told me that, as her health is bad and energy low, she’s cutting back and making plans to retire. And she’s bowing out on pitching the Civil War novel any more. She’s tried 30 different big and medium sized publishers and gotten rejections – some very nice with positive things to say about the novel, the characters, the writing, but – and this is (literally) the bottom line – always with the reservation that they don’t think the novel will be a financial success. The novel was one of ten semifinalists out of over a hundred for the Lee Smith Novel prize but . . . that and five dollars will get you a Starbucks coffee.

I understand. It’s no longer to an agent’s advantage to work for 15% of a possible very small advance and iffy future prospects. It's a business, after all. I will always appreciate what she did by finding a home at Bantam Dell for the Elizabeth Goodweather books and I wish her all the best. 

Where does this leave me and the novel? Still searching. 
There's no point looking for another agent with a novel that's already been rejected by the big boys. So my next step is seeking out small presses – the sort that don’t give much of an advance. Fortunately, they also don’t require agented submissions.

This month I’ll start researching and submitting to small presses (will have to craft a query letter and ready a marketing plan etc.)

I will also begin to look into self-publishing, starting by putting together the Birdie stories from the blog with a view to publishing them as an e book. Kind of a trial run.

How do I feel about all this?

At first, bummed but certainly not devastated. And then, actually, amazingly okay – now the ball is in my court and I can stop giving the agent a few more months to accomplish something. 
In a way I feel freed.  First I will try submitting to every press that seems appropriate, all the while preparing to do the self-publishing route. I know a lot of folks would like to read this book – and I am ready to see it in the world

Onward.


15 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

I am surprised by this. You'd think that an already successful author wouldn't find it so difficult.

Vicki Lane said...

Success is relative. And as my very modest success was in mystery and this is historical fiction, it's a whole new ball game.

Sandra Parshall said...

I wish you the best of luck with the small preses. And self-publishing remains an excellent option for a writer who already has a following.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'm sure you have given some idea to some of the Internet fundraising programs, especially those that allow you to give the donors something in return. (So they are not simply donating, they are buying something.) Perhaps a signed first edition copy for a certain level, a short story to others, etc. You have worked so long and hard on this book that I would love to see it in print. I would definitely participate and so would your blog and FB friends. And word would spread.

Vicki Lane said...

I haven't because it's really, really difficult for me to ask for money when there are so many far worthier causes out there. But I'll give some thought to your suggestion -- a kind of pre-sale, as it were . . .

KarenB said...

I've been waiting for this book for quite a while so this is mostly good news for me. (And it's all about me, says she in a sarcastic tone!)

I have several authors among my acquaintances who have self-published and/or use a platform like Patreon. If you like, I could either put you in contact with them or just ask for helpful suggestions.

Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Vicki! I think you're right in forging forward. Wherever it lands, I know I'll buy a copy, plus i hope you would come to the CMLit Fest.

Darla said...

I'm sorry that the book wasn't picked up, but, as you say - onward! Very best of luck wherever you end up!

Mary Maupin said...

Vicki, your attitude is truly inspiring! Please keep us/me posted.

Juliet Batten said...

Vicki, I sympathise with you as you try to get this book published. Your struggle reflects a shift in publishing that has affected many a good writer. It has nothing to do with the quality of your work, as I think you know. I struck the same barrier ten years ago after having become an established writer published by a small publisher and then Random House, and made the decision to self publish. Self publishing doesn't have the stigma that it once had. It has become the avenue for many an established writer.

Since making that decision, I've gone one to self publish 4 books, all of which have broken even and then earned a little, but more importantly have reached appreciative readers who love them. I've found it empowering to take charge in this way, and to publish to a high standard, employing an editor and designer, and following the well known pathway that a publishing house takes to produce a book. I'll also try a couple of small publishers with my next book, but I don't want to wait on them too long.

I wish you well. A good book deserves an audience.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks to you all. Juliet -- I especially appreciate your remarks. Your books are lovely and that gives me hope. I've seen too many self-pubbed books that are cheap looking and poorly edited. I think I can manage the editing but I want a quality product.

Martha Robinson said...

I would love to read your Civil War novel! I have waiting to hear when it would be published! I love the Miss Birdie stories.

Good luck in finding a new publishing home!

Nan Emanuel said...

I agree that self-publishing no longer has the stigma it once had and there are lots of great resources out there now that provide the level of services you require. But having said that, there is a lot of "schlock" out there, poorly written, barely edited and they look as if they were done on the fly.

Anyway, you might want to check out the resources available from Chandler Bolt, he is the guru on getting a self-published book marketed correctly for the current literary environment.

My best wishes to you in this endeavor and I hope I'll be reading this novel soon, I've been looking forward to it since you told us about it.

katy gilmore said...

Like you say - onward!

janet morrison said...

I'm bummed about this. As an aspiring novelist in the historical fiction genre, It's discouraging to know that you have been unable to find a publisher for your Civil War novel. I admire your resilience and attitude to tackle a new path to publication.

I'll buy your Civil War book!