Sunday, October 08, 2006

Before I was published, the process for submitting a manuscript was a long, sometimes grueling task. First came the query letter. Beyond that hurdle lay the proposal. After that, the full manuscript. Then the backcover copy. The list went on. I learned to sympathize with the pets in a circus performance. Here’s the hoop. Jump through.

As authors, we’re willing to do almost anything to see our work in print. We spend hours laboring over just the right turn of phrase for each and every paragraph. The query letter itself is polished to a fine sheen, for there have been times when those few precious lines were all an editor ever saw of my work. All they needed to see.

“Your manuscript does not fit our current publishing needs…”

Ugh. I have those words seared into my psyche, which is why going to Dallas to attend an annual writer’s conference proved such an interesting endeavor. Would anything be different now that I had the added credential of having sold a book on my resume?

“What have you got?” an editor asked me at dinner one night.

“A historical, set in Scotland around 1040.”

“Is it finished?”


“Send me a proposal.”

Excuse me. What?

Not, ‘fantastic, that’s just what we’re looking for,’ or ‘I’m sure it’s perfect, here’s a contract,’ but, ‘send me a proposal.’

Sigh. So not much is different, I’m afraid. Except…

Did I mention that I skipped right over the pitch? This editor didn’t ask me what the book was about, or how long I’d been writing, or if I’d taken time to research. One look at my nametag, emblazoned with the words, “Barbour Mystery Author,” was enough. I could almost see it on the person’s face. “You’ve sold. You’ve got to be pretty good. Send me what you’ve got.”

It wasn’t until I got back to my room that night that the full realization hit me. Writing will never be easy. It'll require all my energy, all my effort. There is no grand 'arrival.' Each step is part of a journey, one I gladly set out to take.

Yes, there’s still hoops, just not as many. And somehow, they’re not as daunting as they were before.


Ane Mulligan said...

And I know you're goin gto sell that one, too, Lisa!

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