Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jitters that did not come from coffee

To borrow a phrase from my agent, we are on submission.

Writers are in a golden age, I think. We are no longer limited to one channel for selling our work. Ten years ago, if we wrote a great book, we had to find a publishing house (PH) willing to take a risk on us.  The book had to be different enough to be fresh and unique, but similar enough for the PH to understand how to promote it and where to shelve it in bookstores. So, yeah—fresh, unique, and the same as everything else. Quite the trick.

Today, if no PH will buy our great book because it's too risky, authors have two choices: 1) try self-publishing or 2) hope the market changes so that we can try again later.  There are pros and cons to both.

I'm sticking with the second option for now. Its pros are more compelling for me than its cons. I like having professional help with editing, distributing, and promoting my books—and those qualities tend to be the strengths of publishing houses.

Several years ago, I wrote a book called I WISH. It finaled in an international writing contest known as the Golden Heart®. It caught the eye of my literary agent, who signed me because of I WISH.

We tried for months to sell IW.  We came really close a couple of times.  Even though the responses was positive, the answer was the same. This book is too different. Too risky. We don't know how to market it.

Fine. Whatever. I archived IW and started something new.  After that something new sold, I pulled I WISH out of archive and took another look.  The world had changed enough in the interim that I thought this book still held promise.

First, I have changed. I am a better author now. I've practiced hard, taken classes, and improved my skills at processing feedback. Secondly, technology has changed. The characters have new computers, devices, and information available to them. Thirdly, the market has changed. E-books have expanded the possibilities. Young Adult fiction, with its willingness to experiment with "formulas," has pushed the market along new and exciting terrain.

rotary phone
Given all of those changes, I took my much-loved I WISH apart and put it back together.  I worked hard. I hired a freelance editor and 2 teen beta readers. I listened to them and applied their suggestions. And together, we've made IW even better than before.

My agent has sent the book out there into the publishing world. It could be weeks or months before we know anything.  Until then, I wait for good news, with the jitters in full force.

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