It makes me happy when people ask me what’s happening with my book. It also bemuses me a little, since I often assume that by now my entire entourage know that if I had any kind of news, I would be plastering it all over the internet.
But in any case, if you missed the excitement in my tweets and Facebook profile a few weeks back, here are the three main things happening at the moment.
– Inevitable is now at number 4 on Authonomy.
This, theoretically at least, means that it will make the top five on 1st May, after a year on the site and many more hours faffing around on it than I care to count. Every month, the five at the top of the list get whisked away to the desk of a HarperCollins editor (at least, we all hope it’s an editor and not a junior editorial assistant in her first week of work experience), and several weeks or sometimes months later an extensive comment is received. We all hope it’ll be accompanied by the instant offer of a publishing contract, but it hardly ever is.
Still, though, reviews can be very useful if you are seeking to make changes prior to self-publication, or if you want to write to agents with soundbites like “HarperCollins said this book had an interesting premise.” And I just want to get there now. (Which, by the way, you can help me with, if you go here, take thirty seconds or so to register, and then click “back the book”. Thank you!)
– Meanwhile, I’ve also paid to have a couple of professional reviews done. The first from the London Writers’ Club, which is run by two literary agents who offer to report back on your first 50 pages, plus – crucially – the query letter and synopsis that have, in my case, failed to enthuse anyone in the publishing world so far. That one was kind of devastating – mainly because I felt as if they hadn’t “got” my book, but had tried to pigeonhole it into something it isn’t, and doesn’t want to be – but it did contain nuggets of helpfulness. The second was much more useful – it’s a wonderful scheme for new writers run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, in which you get an in-depth critique of the whole novel from an experienced writer. I got a detailed six-page report which was encouraging but not pandering and gave me many useful pointers.
– The most exciting thing to happen so far has been that through a connection with an author whose work I love, I got to send Inevitable to an editor at a major New York publishing house. (You don’t usually get to do that except through an agent, and I haven’t managed to snag one of those yet.) I haven’t heard anything back, and in a way I’m not surprised – but the set of circumstances which led to this were fairytale-like and inspired the plot for my third novel, so that’s good enough for me. Well, almost.
So now I have a choice. Either way, I am going to work on it some more, but then what? Self-publishing? I was dead against this a year ago, but am coming round to the idea. Most importantly, it gets your work out there rather than keeping it sitting in a draw. It’s so cheap, so easy, and people I know are making decent money at it. But should that be the main consideration? No, it shouldn’t. In a way, I wish I’d never looked into the world of publishing. I deliberately avoided all of that in my first 18 months of serious writing because I wanted to write for the pleasure of writing. And that childlike innocence is not something I’ll ever be able to recover.
Since I’m hopefully about to spend two years working on my writing – and, crucially, getting coaching – I am thinking I should probably hold off in any case. If, by the time I have my MFA from American University (sorry, I just have to keep saying that!) and have reworkedInevitable and met several agents, there is still no interest, then I probably will take the plunge. Or, by then, I’ll be wise enough to know not to bother. Either way, though,Inevitable will always have a place in my heart and I think I’ll always be proud of it.
Meanwhile, I’m working on my second novel. Primary Season tells the story of an evangelical Christian named Louisa Perry who works in Democratic politics. It’s not always easy, let me tell you, and it’s not made any easier by her crush on the maddeningly attractive Aaron Rosenberg. A lighter read? Welllll, maybe. Hopefully not a predictable one, though.