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