A Promising development in the quest for publication

During this past February’s Love Is Murder writers conference, I sucked up my courage and tried to sell my YA spy novel, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, during a pitch-a-thon or pitch-a-palooza event. Essentially this is speed dating where you have four minutes with an agent or editor to make them believe you have a book worth publishing. Despite my pathological avoidance of self-promotion, I did well. All but one of the people I spoke with asked me to proceed to the next step of the process, sending sample chapters or a synopsis via e-mail.

More than two months have passed since then, and the only responses had been two kindly worded rejections. I figured, perhaps belatedly, that it was time to query more agents and spent this last week crafting a pitch letter.

Friday morning, I checked my email on my iPod and saw that I had a response from one of the editors from Love Is Murder. I opened the e-mail hoping this rejection would let me down as easily as the others. It took a moment to realize this wasn’t a rejection. It read, “We are interested in reading the rest of the story.” This was followed by a request for the full manuscript. Not a bad way to start the day.

This is definitely encouraging, but being the cautious type I immediately reminded myself the result could just be rejection at a higher level. But at least I have reached a higher level.

Also, I don’t have an agent and I wonder if it is wise for me to deal directly with a publisher. Sure, I won’t be giving away 10 percent of my earnings, but agents get that money by looking out for their authors’ interests. When I received that e-mail, I had two letters sitting on the table by the door ready to be mailed to agents (yes, actual physical letters to be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service). I considered rewriting the letters to mention a publisher has expressed interest in the book, but decided to mail them as is. I can add this new information to any queries I make next week. Perhaps I will send a short e-mail to those two agents: “Since I mailed my query, a publisher has expressed interest in my book.” Can’t hurt.

I did send the full manuscript to the publisher on Friday. I don’t see any point in delaying. I’m not making a commitment, and they could still reject me. It’s just another step towards publication, and a promising one. A publisher wants to read The Boy Who Knew Too Much, and that has to be a good thing, right?

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