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The Publishing Front

This blog started as a way to report progress in my efforts to publish my two novels, Down The River, an historical novel, and Tiny Details, a mystery. River has been at a publisher since last spring and the early reports were that the readers liked the book. The acquisitions manager reported back to me that in its present form, they will decline to publish the manuscript.

But, were I to make revisions, she writes, they would like to reconsider it. They enjoyed the characters and they think it is a good story, particularly the way it was set up. This is the only publisher that read the entire manuscript and the comments she made were not unlike those from a literary agent who also read it. The publisher is a university press and they offered to have a class of students read and critique the work. How could I pass up the opportunity to have real readers give real feedback to my story?

I got in touch with the professor and he agreed to show it to his class. But the term has already started and it will have to wait until next quarter. That means that their comments won’t be in until June. That will give me a chance to revise it some more before the students get it.

I have mailed out over 100 query letters and sample chapters for Tiny Details and received back everything from nothing, to preprinted regrets cards, to my own letter with a note, to one or two carefully crafted letters. All passed on the work. I did undertake to enter Details in the Breakthrough Novel Contest. The winner gets a $25,000 publishing contract. I entered River last year and it was actually selected as a semi-finalist. Alas, the version I submitted was before I had an editor go over it and help me with typos, etc., so it was pretty raw. Let’s see if Details gets as far.

The news from the publishing industry is not good. Some major houses in New York have laid off staff and stopped taking new submissions at all. And all the money that is spent on advances for celebrity books by Laura Bush, et al., comes out of the pot available for fiction writers like me. It just ain’t fair.

So I keep plugging away. I started a sequel to River and a new mystery with another protagonist, but have put these aside to revise 455 pages of plot and scene and dialogue.

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