Thursday, 25 February 2010

Where to from here?

As regular readers know, I’ve been waiting impatiently for the past five months to hear from a publisher about the manuscript of my children’s novel that they’ve been considering. Sad to say, on Tuesday I got a large envelope in the mail with my own handwriting on it – the complete manuscript returned with the dreaded ‘we are sorry...’ letter. Is there a word to describe that moment when all your hopes drop to the floor with an almighty thud? It’s certainly not something I can put into words.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Despite the ‘we are sorry’, they did add that they thought it had real promise and would be pleased to look at any other manuscripts I might like to submit. So they left the door open that tiny bit. But still, it’s disappointing. No, ‘disappointing’ isn’t the word.

I’ve spent all my spare time since then researching other children’s publishers here in Australia. There are very few that accept unsolicited manuscripts or even queries, except through a registered agent and I can find only one agency who say they are accepting queries on children’s books at the moment and, they add, they are taking on very few. It’s all rather discouraging. Is it any wonder so many go into self-publishing? But I’m determined to keep trying. Someone has to like this book. The publisher I just submitted to was one of the biggest in Australia. If I got that far with them, there has to be hope...doesn’t there?

I’ve got a list of possibilities ready and I’m going to target them one by one (or more if they don’t specifically say they don’t like multiple submissions). Wish me luck!


Meg McKinlay said...

Sorry to hear about your rejection, Kate. Those packages come with such a loud thud after all that hoping, don't they?

If you are getting personal feedback from one of the big pubs I'd say there's definitely hope (though I know the thud still thuds and one can very quickly grow weary of cheerleaders rah-rahing things like "You're so close!" "It's just a matter of time!" so I will try and refrain!). Best of all good luck for your continuing submissions. I will have my fingers crossed for you.

Kate said...

Thanks, Meg.

Luc2 said...

Keep going!
Why not contact this one agency, and let them know about the encouraging word from the publisher. That might grab their attention.
And why not submit in the UK? Many accept electronic queries these days, so you don't have costs of postage, etc.

Kate said...

Ah Luc, bless you! You just reminded me that ages ago I bookmarked a British agent keen to take on new Australian writers. I've just looked her up and she's still saying the same. So I'll definitely try her. I'd prefer an Australian publisher because James is very definitely an Aussie boy, but we'll see. And you could be right about the positive feedback helping to get an agent. Many thanks!

Anna said...

Sorry about the rejection. I think the ones that come so close can often feel the worst because you actually dare get your hopes up. But it sounds like you're ready to get back into the submission game. Good luck!

Rena said...

Sorry! I know that "thud" all too well. It's especially disheartening when you think you've really researched and found the perfect one. Keep trying, Kate!

Kate said...

Yes, Anna, and I had dared to get my hopes up. Silly me.

Thanks, Rena. I've set myself the goal of having it out again to at least two more places by the end of next week. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

AnneB said...

What Luc2 said. So many agents accept e-queries these days. Query US agents as well;as an Austrialia writer, you have the exotic factor going for you.

Lisa Amowitz said...

Sorry, Kate. Been there, too. Don't give up. Seriously. Think of publishing as a continuous episode of Survivor (do they have that show in Aussie?) You know you're good or they wouldn't have considered you in the first place.

Kate said...

AnneB - exotic, me? Haha. I like that idea!

Lisa - I don't think I'd be much good at Survivor. All those creepy crawlies. I'm too much of a wimp. But I will keep going with trying to get published. No creepy crawlies involved there.

Zara Penney said...

Kate, 70,000 ks seems like a long novel for a kid book genre. What age group are you aiming for? Did you check submissions?

I don't do this age group but I know lots of kids authors. I get the feeling that you might have a novel that is a little too bulky unless it's for older YA market. But even then might it be on the lengthy side?

It is getting vry close to 100,000k which is a manuscript too large for first time author.

what you should be doing is editing the story again. Check to see that you don't have show not tell, check the POV. Check to see that you don't have the word 'that' where you don't need.
Check the hooks. Check if too many characters to get through. Check dialogue.

Things you can get rejected for are quite simple sometimes. Length but they like your writing. Doesn't fit list but they like your writing. List is full but they like your writing. Like your writing but this won't fit in with this year's intake. Marketing considering wiping this list all together but they like your writing. Have their submissions been revised?
Have you started at the right spot ie., action. Is it directed for boys or girls? Boys are difficult readers in the main. In which case 70,000 k is too long. And would you be prepared to take smaller royalties and send it to an educational publisher? Would it be suitable for difficult readers? But it would have to probably be shorter. I think I feel that a good length for children is around the 40 to 50 K and at a stretch 60 thou.

Kate said...

Hi Zara,
Thanks for your help, but where did you get the 70000 figure from? I didn't say it was that long. In fact I didn't say how long it was at all. This book is aimed at 8-12-year-olds and is a fits into the figures you give for children, so nowhere near 70000 and definitely a long way from 100k.

Kate said...

Ah, I've just realised - I mentioned the book I'd just finished (a few posts before this) was 70000 words. My apologies, Zara, but that's a different book. That's YA, still in its first draft and definitely not ready for submitting yet. And it will probably be more like 60000 when it's finished. Sorry ofr the confusion.

Zara Penney said...

I probably should add here that I got rejected by the same publishing house and accepted by that very same publishng house. It was merely a matter of which editor it was that accepted it. There was a flaw in the m/s which was spotted by the editor and then it was subsequently pubbed. One editor who rejected it was a different person to one who accepted it. And they now have off shoots when they take over smaller pubs.
Check your synopsis. I have a theory that synopses shouldn't be written by the author. Some of them are very hard to get through. Make it clean simple and as short as you can.
Check your GMC = want/because/but) your story arc
but most importantly that length worries me.
my M/s had a problem in the middle. It was rhythm which slowed in the middle, causing a disconnect. It was, once I knew it, very easy to fix. And then got pubbed.

THere's a fantastic children book writers centre in an old prison which also has a writer in residence. It's a kind of writer's centre but for kids. You can often catch up with a writer in residence The lady who runs it is fantastic. There is also a society called SCBWI, which you google and can join as an associate. They have winter and summer conferences.
I got the impression you are in WA.
Victoria is very strong on budding authors. There's a retreat called Verena in the mountains in Sydney. Australia is verylucky to have a lot of support for children's writers. So google away and get some support.
That goes for everyone else in Oz.


Zara Penney said...

And John Marsden has a retreat which he holds writing courses for children's writing in country Victoria This is a wonderful place to stay for a weekend workshop. Can't remember what he calls it but it's got accommodation. Google John Marsden and also check through Children Book Council and Australian Society of Authors which I suspect you can join as an associate.