I spent a good amount of my day today submitting manuscripts to editors. It was largely two of the…many (more than six) projects I have on my plate ready to roll, with several more on their way.
Yes, that’s a ton. But I’m fortunate that these are timed so that I have almost no editor overlap, which is often a source of great stress (please forgive the digression): What do you do when two projects ought to go to the same person at a publisher, when simultaneous double-dipping is typically frowned-upon? My list, thankfully, is broad enough now—and many editors’ mandates narrow enough—that where three police procedurals might once have gone to the same editor, I can now divide it into the Historical Western procedural with romance, the contemporary Boston procedural with the Jewish sub-angle, and the one with vampires and other beasties.
Today, though, I really was able to go to very different folks, since I was going out with a young adult novel with a paranormal element (aliens, not sparkly vamps—this time) and a police procedural for adults. Both are dark, angsty novels dealing with identity and love. One’s by a man, one by a woman, and in fact one is likely going to be read more by men, and the other by (young) women. Most of the editors I sent the procedural to are men (though there is one woman I am really thinking could love it), while the YA editors are almost entirely women. In both cases I went “out wide” to more than ten editors—all of the Big Six, plus several larger independents.
My clients are excited—for one it’s the first time at the dance; not so the other. But in each case this was one of the most optimistic, adrenalin-filled days (OK, afternoons), where all of a sudden there is the knowledge that it’s Out There, with editors we’ve discussed at houses we’d like to make their homes.
There is excitement as well because there is visible activity going on. OK, so back 10-15 years ago there would be a more physical sense of a manuscript being Out, since it would be a physical box with, you know, paper, rather than a phone call or email and a brief zap. But still, one of the authors knew that something was going on because all of a sudden she was seeing Publishing House IP addresses on her website.
Of course, tomorrow—or rather sometime at the end of the week, when all the editors have called me back and all the manuscripts are delivered to the appropriate inboxes, and the little jokes and greater hyperbole in my pitch letters are read, the waiting begins all over again. It’s a brutal process for the writer. For me it’s a lot of underlying brutality, rather than the ever-present pain to the writer. After all, tomorrow I get to start submitting the business book and the thriller, while finishing reads on two other client manuscripts, notes on three others, and contract negotiations for three others still (all different projects and authors!).
My hope for the procedural and the YA is that there will be an editor who just heard from me, who will have dinner plans cancel and will hang out at work an extra hour and decide to see what I was talking about, and then find herself at 10 transferring it to her kindle for the subway to Brooklyn or Astoria or the Upper West Side, and will call me tomorrow and say “I can’t put it down.” And while there are all manner of pitfalls as to what happens after that, we will know that the excitement will be sustained.