Thursday, April 28, 2005

Where is the Nexus?

It took nine months to write THE NEXUS. My daughter graduated eighth grade the day I put the last period on the final sentence. She's a HS senior now, graduating in June and THE NEXUS is still in The Well of Lost Plots (tipping my hat to Jasper Fforde). I began querying literary agents to represent me after my second draft and in three years of queries, revised up to draft number nine. I queried a few agents after each revision; agents I felt were interested in my kind of book. The declines became more encouraging with each pass, often with comments that I took into the next revision. While still querying for THE NEXUS and in between revisions, I began writing book number two. I suppose some authors might have tabled novel number one after the third or forth draft. But I believed in my story and wanted to improve it after each pass.

I believe something mysical happens when you just let go of the anxiety about the future. I hadn't queried any literary agents in several months when I first queried my agency. I had been busy caring for my mother in her last days and then working through the grief of the loss when I finally resumed the agent search. I sent two queries. One to an agency who'd been recommended by a friend, and another to an agency that I'd read was considered one of the top "up and coming" agencies. This agency had become one of my top picks for a number of reasons. It was small, it was family oriented, it was run by women, and it had a track history of sales in my genre. In the age of email, that is was not located in NYC made little difference. The agency my friend recommended turned me down, but the up-and-coming agency opened a dialog over my manuscript that would take nearly a year to finalize. My agent called me to ask about representation and queried me about several career issues. But I had questions of my own. After a lively discussion about the industry, genres, revisions, and the like, I realized that my agent got my novel. I mean she got it. She was as enthusiastic about it as I was.

THE NEXUS is out of my hands now. That’s why we get literary agents. Because the road to publishing in the traditional marketplace is riddled with rules. THE NEXUS us still on submission, a term used in this industry to say the agent’s sent the manuscript around to selected publishing house editors for evaluation. There’s a chain of acceptance that manuscripts must undergo before an offer is made, and it can take a few months. THE NEXUS went out in mid-March. We’re nearing six weeks now. Three passes have come in. Like every debut author who has gone through the submission process, I have to realize that this novel may not sell. Many authors of household name have experienced that reality. But I know it's a good book and I believe when the time is right, it will be published. And it might not be until after my next book, or my next one after that. But I’ll keep you posted.

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