The vacation from my day job means I’ve had time to focus on advancing my budding writing career. Until Thanksgiving (formerly known as Addicted) has moved on to the next level. I submitted the first twenty pages of the manuscript and a complete synopsis to a small, relatively new publishing company this morning.
Let the waiting begin.
Writing a book is the easy part. Seriously. After that, unless you’re Stephen King, James Patterson, or someone famous enough to get an advance for your memoir, it’s uphill all the way.
Self-publish? E-publish? Agent? Major publishing house? Boutique publisher? The options and permutations are endless. My initial plan was to start at the top and work my way down until I found someone who wanted to publish my book. I’ve now moved beyond the underlying assumptions from which that strategy evolved.
Self-publishing is always an option, and I’m not ruling it out. But first I want to explore the alternatives. Since my academic publications don’t count in the world of fiction, landing an agent without any writing credits is a tall order. Researching entities that might have an interest in a novel like mine yielded several pages of possibilities. Every one of them receive several times the number of manuscripts they could ever want or need.
Taking a look at the novels available from the publishers on my long list is the next step. A publisher with a catalog of books like mine is a better fit than one without any track record in the genre. That publisher can quickly connect me to readers who will buy my book.
The reality is that the volume of submissions to any publisher or agent is so high that they reject all but the very best manuscripts they see. And you only get one chance, because a rejection means backing up and starting over again. With the stakes so high, it pays to do your homework. The better the fit, the better the odds.
In the real world, such things often come down to who you know. Three members of my critique group work for the same publisher. As luck would have it, that publisher has a section devoted to books like mine. Having insider friends doesn’t guarantee results, but it does increase the odds that my submission will be noticed. And I’m fine with that.
Submitting the manuscript anywhere requires a succinct synopsis and a dazzling cover letter with a tantalizing blurb. Succinct. Dazzling. Tantalizing. Anything else, and a polite “this isn’t for us” rejection message will show up in my mailbox instead of the desired request for a full manuscript. They ain’t playing.
It’s all difficult, but writing the synopsis is downright painful. Condense a 67,000 word manuscript into about three pages of something that is still interesting to read sometime. Or just take my word for it.
Writing the blurb is only slightly less painful. Fortunately, the freelance editor I use does this well. She gave me several options. After some serious tweaking, one of them turned out like this:
As a middle-aged gay man in the college town of Lexington, Kentucky, Josh Freeman knows his best years are behind him. When he catches his partner of seventeen years having an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself under a pile of take-out boxes, empty bottles, half-smoked joints, and self-pity. His best friend, Linda does what friends do—gently kicks his ass and encourages him to give the job he’s been offered in Washington D.C. a try—at least until Thanksgiving.
Thad Parker, a DC-based relocation expert, rarely dates and in his few relationships, there have been even fewer sparks. But when he meets Josh Freeman and shakes his hand, a spark hits him like a lightning strike. After Josh takes an active interest in someone else, Thad decides to wait.
While he waits, misunderstandings about Thad’s relationship with his older roommate, a reckless encounter with a serial killer, and a brush with death conspire against Josh and Thad’s chance at happiness.
Hopefully, it’s tantalizing. At just under two pages, the synopsis is certainly succinct. The cover letter definitely shines. Does it dazzle enough to result in a request for the full manuscript?
Time will tell. The web site gives no indication of the turnaround time. Whether it’s weeks or months, I’ll wait on pins and needles here in…
My Glass House