The News I’ve been Sitting On

One of the most frustrating things is when something amazing happens to you and you can’t tell anyone. For the past week, I’ve been trying to act like business-as-usual when inside, I’m doing 99,000 consecutive HappyDances.

I kind of want to go on and on before I reveal it, but that would be mean. So: I am pleased to announce that I have sold my novel, The Widening Gyre, to Flame Tree Press, a UK publisher. The book will be published in “mid-ish 2019” and will be available in both bookstores and online booksellers.

I am beyond pleased, here.

A Good Rejection

I just got a great rejection.  I know, rejections suck, but in this case it was complimentary.  The agent said it was a “fun, fast-paced read,” but she just wasn’t “excited enough about the voice” to move forward.

Sure, it’s a rejection, but it’s a rejection that makes me feel good.  A “fun, fast-paced read” was exactly what I was going for.  Book 2 will probably be a little heavier, a little less “fun,” which is by design given the roots of this story.

Anyway, that rejection is the kind I like–it doesn’t hurt, it’s honest, and it reinforces my self-belief.

The Ups and Downs of my “Stage Presence”

On Fridays, I allow a few minutes for students to ask me any kind of question they wish.  Sometimes they ask about real world things they don’t understand, like the current Korean negotiations, Trump’s actions, etc.  Sometimes they’re random questions about the world (many of which could be answered with a fifteen-second Google search), and sometimes they’re about me.

Today, a fairly astute student asked if I’d ever be able to speak as an author, given that I’m shy and an introvert.

It’s a good question, but easily answered: I could do it easily, because I’m a teacher.

Of course, even if I do get published, that doesn’t guarantee I’ll ever have the opportunity to speak publicly; debut authors don’t get book tours, and few people would go to attend an event with someone they’ve never heard of, anyway.

But if I ever did get to that tier of writerly success, I could handle it.  I spend, after all, six hours a day “on stage” in the classroom, and I’m one of the more entertaining teachers on campus. My students regularly comment that they enjoy my sense of humor, my ability to make sometimes dull lessons entertaining, and my willingness to look foolish to make a point for them.

But it wouldn’t be entirely smooth.  Because here’s the thing: With an audience of fans, I’d be fine.  With an audience of authors or editors or agents, I’d be a mess, talking too fast, trying not to act nervous, and generally trying not to fall apart.  While I’m good at talking to students, I’m crap at talking to peers.  I get nervous when I feel judged, and fellow teachers judge far, far more harshly than students do.

The key is that when I’m teaching, I’m performing.  When I’m talking in front of teachers, I’m not performing–they know the tricks.  I’m trying to get to a point where I can turn that into performance, as well, but it’s difficult.

Reporting from the Query Wars

Queried: 38 Agents, 3 publishers
Form Rejections: 30 (28 Agents, 2 publishers)
Requests for Partials: 5 (all agents)
Personal Rejections: 3
Still out: 3 Agents, 1 Publisher

Neither publisher got past the slushers, near as I can tell.  And that’s okay; I expected that.  I haven’t had a partial request since last summer, which is wearing on me, but them’s the breaks, and as a friend has said, it’s basically a numbers game.  40 queries is still in the little league of novel rejections.

On Realizing One’s Britches Are Too Tight

I’ve been avoiding submitting The Book to small presses.  I was thinking about it, and I realized my reasons are dumb.

I’ve been holding out on the small presses because “I want a Big 5 deal.”  Well, look who’s a little big for his britches!  Yep, that’s me.

I still think it’s possible to get that deal. But to get a Big 5 deal, you must first have an agent.  And that hasn’t been working out so well.  I’m sure there’s one out there for me, but I’m not there yet.

I know my book is good.  More than one person whose opinion I trust has read it and said it’s good.  But “good” doesn’t mean a large publisher will be willing to take a chance.  A smaller publisher might.  Still no guarantees, but you never know.

Thinking on all this, I recalled that an author I admire made her first sale to a small press, and has now published more than 20 books, most of them with my dream publisher.

So I’m going to sub to agents, until I get one.  And I’m going to sub to the relatively few Big Houses that take unagented subs for SFF.  But I’m also going to add the small presses, because who knows?  Maybe they’ll take a chance on it.

Just a generic check-in

I don’t have much to talk about right now.  It’s summer break, and my daughter asked if she could skip going to camp this year, so we’re together a lot.  Which is cool, but it means I’m not getting much writing work done.

Query Stats!

Queries Sent: 29

Form Rejections at Query Stage: 13

Silence-as-Rejection*: 6

Partials Requested: 3

Form Rejections of Partial: 2

Personal Rejections (of Partial): 1

Queries still out: 8