To send or not to sent? I paused, re-read my email, re-checked my attachments, re-read again. I paused again and my heart was racing and my mind swimming with fears – Have I proofed everything to perfection? – Have I attached everything required in the manuscript guidelines? – Have I correctly spelt my contact’s name? – Will she still even be there when my email arrives? (In the publishing industry you never know) – Have I done everything in my power to convince them (the publishing house) that this is a perfect fit for them? They can’t refuse this novel – or can they?
“Come on just press send,” I said to myself. “Don’t be a coward.” So I did.
Off went my beloved manuscript ‘Under the Bali Hut’ into cyberspace. Hopefully to land quickly on an editor’s desk. After all I did have an exact name (contact) who’d requested the manuscript when I’d made the word count. Doesn’t that count for something? Surely my MS won’t be cast into the sludge pile waiting and waiting for someone to pay it attention.
Possibly my contact (by the way an assistant editor) may have just been in a happy mood and emailed every author to send along their full MS that day. Maybe she didn’t even glance at my MS, or my carefully worded synopsis, only my email.
I’ll now have an anxious wait of probably about eight to twelve weeks.
No. Believe it or not the following day I received an email (from another contact under the same email address as the contact I had, possibly the assistant to the assistant) telling me that they prefer 70,000 words. Mine was 55,000 but I had also explained that I would be expanding it. So she asked me to send it along when the word count was met. Frantically over the next few weeks I went through my manuscript and added chapters where I believed the story needed more fleshing out. (I must point out that the original word count was to place it in a writing competition. I’d never believed the story to be entirely finished.) I wouldn’t recommend extending all stories by that many words unless you think it will better the story.
Anyway I’d set myself a goal to finish it in under a month and I came in just over target (by two days). I knew I had to set this goal so the publishing house would know that I can work to deadline and I didn’t want anyone to forget me in that period of time.
I sent the MS back with its new 75,000 word count. And – you guessed it – my contact had left the publishing house days before. This gave me a moment of panic and a little bit of nausea before I read the email further They asked me to send the MS along to – no less than – the Editorial Director. I’m thinking this is a good thing but I don’t want to get my hopes up.
Now I play the waiting game again. I worry about my baby (MS) and how it’s being treated. Are the assistants laughing at my Aussie humour? Are they picking apart my plotting, giggling at my dialogue, debating my prose and scoffing at my grammar? Or are they sending my MS to the next stage of submissions – acquisitions? Then will the acquisitions department see the potential of my novel? Will they believe that it will sell? Will they believe it will out-sell the advance (surely they’ll offer me one)? More importantly will they believe that I’ll be able to sell it and myself? Will I be able to follow up with another novel and meet deadlines?
I make this point: Authors must help market their own book no matter what publisher offers them a contract. The hard work does not stop when you finish writing.
I’m glad I sent the MS out. You have to when it’s finished to the best of your ability. Yes, you risk something in the sending but you risk much more by keeping it in a draw at home or on the hard drive of your computer. Not sending it is like giving up on your baby ever growing up.
Wish me luck with my baby. I hope they treat it well and when it’s returned to me I hope it has matured into a beautiful paperback romantic thriller that sits on the bestsellers list for weeks and weeks.
One can always dream. After all I am a fiction writer.