I began the year with things “in the works” with two publishers … “A” and “B”. This was as far as I thought I would get in the publishing world, and I imagined that if neither of them were interested, I would be left with self-publishing. Boy was I wrong!
This month I had some communication with Publisher “B”, and they said they were going to take it to committee. As you will see in the next ten months, this process was going to stall. I found out later from a friend that this publisher is over-busy and barely has time to communicate even with their signed authors. That “patience is needed in this business” is one of the primary lessons I have learned in 2011.
This month I formally sent my proposal to publisher “A”, and they showed some cautious interest.
Shortly thereafter I came into contact with Les Stobbe, an excellent agent with a lot of experience selling novels to the publishers in the Christian market. We began negotiations about signing a contract.
I finished writing the first draft of MERLIN’S SHADOW (book 2) this month. It turned out fabulous. Though I definitely have some editing to do, it is ten times cleaner than Merlin’s Blade’s first draft. It’s taken me 13 drafts to get Merlin’s Blade ready for publishing. Merlin’s Shadow will probably only take 2 more drafts.
I finished reading some books on the craft of fiction, including Stephen King’s ON WRITING.
I also began the difficult process of cutting Merlin’s Blade down from 118,000 words to as close to 100,000 as I could get. This was necessary, I felt, before I signed with Les, because the major Christian publishers are highly concerned about a book’s size affecting the printing costs.
Publisher “B” supposedly took Merlin’s Blade to committee. I began the waiting process … but never heard anything good or bad.
I contacted another small Publisher “C”, and sent my proposal for Merlin’s Blade to them. They only open their submissions occasionally, so this was good timing.
In my cutting efforts—success! Merlin’s Blade now stood at 105,000 words. Not below 100,000, but very close, and close enough.
With Merlin’s Blade cut down to size, I finally made my mind up and signed with Les Stobbe as my literary agent! Les promptly sent my proposal out to all the major publishers. Note that Les also took over communications with the three smaller publishers I was already in process with.
Publisher “A” asked for the full manuscript to Merlin’s Blade. They had only published one fantasy series in their entire history, so I wasn’t sure what they would think.
The first day of the month brought quite an amazing email from Les, alerting me that Publisher “D” (one of the big ones) had already gotten approval for Merlin’s Blade from their Editorial Board. Woo-hoo!
Thankfully I was already working on a “Video Proposal” for Merlin’s Blade. Once it was finished, Les passed it on to the acquisitions editor at Publisher “D” so she could use it during her presentation to the Publishing Board.
Later in the month I visited the ACFW conference here in St. Louis and had an impromptu meeting with the acquisitions editor from Publisher “D”, and she encouraged me that she was going “to fight for [Merlin’s Blade]”. Wow!
My wife and I also had dinner with Les Stobbe, and that was fun.
This month was a test of waiting, as well as catching up on some things that I had dropped during filming of our latest book trailer for Jill Williamson.
I did, however, make progress on a new cover for Merlin’s Blade. If anything, this can jump-start a marketing department’s creative ideas for how to put one together.
The first day of the month brought big news again! The acquisitions editor from Publisher “D” had gotten approval from the Publishing Board to sign Merlin’s Blade … as long as it could pass a profitability analysis step. Normally this step was a formality, but because I was a new author and the book was Christian fantasy, it was more involved.
Also, a new Publisher “E”, whom Les had originally contacted, expressed interest in Merlin’s Blade.
Publisher “A” notified me that they were no longer considering Merlin’s Blade. You win some, you lose some. Still no word, yay or nay, from publisher “B” or “C”.
Meanwhile, I have also not heard from Publisher “D”, so we will begin 2012 with expectant hope of hearing the final word on the profitability analysis. Publisher “D” has a lot on their plate this time of year, so this delay was not unexpected.
I do know this … barring some bizarre twist, 2012 will be a watershed year for The Merlin Spiral. One way or another, a publishing decision will be made, so get on board the roller-coaster, click the safety-bar tight, and hold onto your hat!