I see I haven’t posted an update since last month about my experiment with the world of traditional publishing. I’ve mentioned that I’m working through a short list of those literary agents who I think would be helpful and interested in Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. That list has grown a bit as I’ve gone on since I’ve had the time to do additional research, and that’s led me to new names.
I was encouraged a couple of weeks back when I re-read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (which is wonderful), and found that it had been rejected thirty or thirty-one times before she signed with an agent. My list is a little less than half that long, and—being an old codger—my patience may be a little shorter, too. Ms. Morgenstern is too young to worry about the carrion birds that may be circling outside the window.
Two of the agents who’ve risen to the top of my list say that they take up to eight weeks to respond to a query. That’s a long time, in codger weeks, anyway. So I’ve decided that they’ll define my cut-off date. After some time in late May I’ll abandon the search for an agent and submit to a couple of publishers. I say "a couple" because the wait for an editor to reject a writer is usually longer than the waits I’m going through now. Refer above: codger, patience, carrion birds.
I know that a lot of people take these rejections personally. The fact is, though, that there is nothing personal about this process so it wouldn’t make much sense to take it personally. The great majority of the agents who’ve passed on the book have never seen it, or any part of it; a few have seen the first five pages. There’s no way to know whether they’ve even read what they did get. I have to admit that an email titled Query: SLAVES OF THE SWITCHBOARD OF DOOM might sound like something that they don’t want to read. But even that isn’t personal. It’s just a preconception.
The crazy thing about this process is that I started with an agent I figured I had no hope of working with, and that’s where I got the most positive response of all (and a full reading of the book). Go figure.
So, assuming rejections, sometime in late May I’ll turn the book over to one editor who’s asked to see it; after that, one—or possibly two—other publishers. But come June or July I’ll have finished the book’s illustrations and I have to figure that by then I’ll be in the mood to get something done. Once again: codger, patience, carrion birds.
I have been giving a lot of thought to the problem of launching a self-published book in a way that dovetails with the way a traditionally published book is launched. Odds are I’ll be putting those thoughts to the test: sometime after July, plus or minus a slush pile.