Thursday, August 10, 2006

What would you do?

Tell me, what would you do if a well-known publishing house had your full (not partial, mind!) manuscript in its possession for nine months without getting around to reading it? What if you'd sent numerous emails asking for updates, keeping them apprised of your new manuscript, and otherwise assuring them that you're still alive and well, only to receive virtually the same response each and every time: "Our office is terribly busy but with any luck we hope to get to your manuscript soon"?

Would you hang tough and wait or start tossing query letters right, left and centre? Many publishing houses don't want to see your manuscript if it's being considered by another publisher. But after nine months, come on. And how likely is it that two would become interested at the same time, particularly when separated by the proverbial pond?

So, what do you think I should do? Admit it's time to move on or exercise yet more patience?

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Blogger Amanda Ashby said...

Eva, definitely starting sending out those query letters. Multiple submissions are fine and it's not just writers who do it. My agent sent my book out to 12 editors on the same day.

Plus, if nothing else, sod's law will prevail and you will hear from publisher A the minute you send those queries out!!!!

9:12 am  
Blogger Annie said...

I second Amanda's advice. Go for it, Eva! Plus, get that second book written and start sending that out too!

11:38 am  
Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

I agree with both Amanda and Annie. Could you also send them an email advising them that if you haven't heard from them by ... you'll also be submitting your manuscript to other publishers/agents.
(Not sure the etiquette of this though - it might be worth trawling through Miss Snark's archives...)
Good luck!
Sue :-)

12:25 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

That's what I like: to go to bed at night with a problem and wake up to find it resolved! Thanks, girls. The answer is unanimous.

Amanda, I think I like the sound of sod's law. Annie and I were just the other day discussing another scenario likely to invoke it.

Annie, I shall try very hard...

Sue, I like your thinking. I shall definitely consider informing the editors currently sitting on the ms.

2:12 am  
Blogger India said...

I think a swift and pithy email to the effect that you have been offered a six-figure contract with a rival publishing house, but for personal and sentimental reasons would rather write for them should do the trick.

Give them twenty four hours to respond.

Or email a picture of yourself poised on the edge of a very tall building with the caption 'Give me an answer or I'll jump!'

(If I have any sensible thoughts I'll let you know those too.)

9:02 am  
Blogger Stacy Dawn said...

Personally, I like Imogen's idea. Barring a good picture on a building top, it is a hard descision, some houses have them for over a year but yes, querying others shouldn't be a problem.

7:20 pm  
Blogger Brown said...

Imogen has the right idea. Though I'd rather storm their offices, weilding a paper shredder, head over to a stack of important looking documents and hold the files hostage until I got an answer...maybe dangle a few pages above the whirring teeth of the shredder (after verifying, of course that it wasn't a letter telling me how much they loved my book and wanted to buy it)...although flitting across the pond to do it might be a little rough, and considering that we're no longer allowed to bring bottles of water on board the planes, goodness knows what they would do to me if I brought along my trusty shredder.

What is sod's law?

In seriousness, though, I would start looking elsewhere. At least it gives a person a sense of control over one's destiny. And look on the bright side. Once you're solved that first book and it has hit the best-seller list (which I know it will), you'll no longer worry about publishing houses as they'll be at your door, begging and pleading for your next novel. Short-term pain, long term gain...maybe, if you end up selling to another house, you can go back and do that whole scene from Pretty Woman.

Remember? When the salesgirls wouldn't help her, so she went elsewhere and bought tons of clothing. Then she came back to the shop, reminded them of their insensitive behaviour, held up the bags in her hand and walked out saying, "Big mistake. Big. Huge."

5:47 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

According to Wikipedia, "Sod's Law is the name for the old and famous axiom 'Anything that can go wrong, will'. 'Toast will always land butter side down' is often given as an example of Sod's Law in action...The term is still commonly used in Britain, though in North America the newer eponymous 'Murphy's Law' has become more popular."

In short, Sod's Law is used to describe the worst or most annoying thing that could happen at any one time ...actually happening! For example, after rewriting chapters 1-3, sending our dozens of query letters, finding herself an agent, the enterprising writer receives an email from she who must remain nameless singing the praises of her forlorn manuscript. Or, here's the scenario Annie and I were discussing just the other day, the struggling would-be novelist is offered a job she'd me mad to refuse, decides to take it, and then discovers she's won a multi-book deal with no time left in the day to eat or sleep.


(There's another one for you, Brown.)

1:58 am  
Blogger Eva said...

By the way, I'm rather fond of that hostage by shredder idea. It beats hurling myself from skyscrapers.

2:01 am  
Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

~~~~derrr I posted this on the wrong comments post, so I'm reposting...
I've just dropped by to tell you that you've (yes, all three of you) been tagged.

Details over on my blog.

Sue :-)

7:19 pm  

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