World Maker

Where Im at Part 6: Offer accepted!

So this not-quite-published-yet writer is one giant step closer to having a book in print. For me, it was not the one-week whirlwind that it sometimes can be, but in the end I got a deal that Im happy with. Excited about! THRILLED, really!

The brief tale goes like this: I signed with my agent, Alexandra Machinist at Janklow and Nesbit, last summer. I waited in line for a bit for World Maker to be submitted to editors. In January, Alexandra sent the manuscript to an editor as an exclusive because said editor had been looking for something like World Maker. The editor liked it and asked me to revise a significant aspect of the novel, which I did. On May 2nd, I was told shed decided to pass on making an offer.

In mid-May Alexandra sent the manuscript out to six editors. In the first week of June, Christian Trimmer at Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers expressed interest. He took it to his editorial team and then requested a revision from me. I was, admittedly, nervous about doing another revision since the revision for the other editor had taken up so much time only to be rejected. But Christian convinced me he was enthusiastic about the project, he was good at articulating what he wanted changed, and the revision focused only on the first couple of chapters. In the end, I simply moved a scene from chapter two to the opening and tweaked accordingly. Over the next few weeks Christian read my revision, gave the manuscript to second readers in the editorial department and, Im assuming, took it to another editorial meeting where the changes were approved. The next week it went on to the acquisitions meeting, where an offer was approved. My agent did some negotiating, and I ended up with a two-book deal and a great editor at a great publishing house!

(Here is the Publishers Weekly announcement, if you like to look these things up.)

Although it took some time to get the ball rolling, sometimes patience is necessary to get the end result you want. I couldnt be happier with the result I got.

World Maker likely wont be published until 2015, so there is yet more waiting to do. While I wait for my editorial letter on World Maker (which will likely be given a new title), I must get to work on an outline for book two of my two-book deal. Remember that post I wrote a little while ago about an idea I got while going for popcorn? The idea is barely 1,000 words of notes, but thats the book I sold with World Maker!

I must conclude with a HUGE THANK YOU to Alexandra Machinist and Christian Trimmer. My little book is a little different, a little hard to pitch because although its about a boy who makes a world so he can have a girlfriend, its more than that description would lead one to believe. Both Alexandra and Christian saw something in it that made them read to the end, and in reading to the end they decided to become champions of the manuscript, and I cant quite express in accurate enough terms how very much that means to me.

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When ideas keep coming

About two weeks ago I went downstairs to get some popcorn for movie watching with my family. Halfway between the fridge and the pantry I got whammed by an idea for a new novel. The concept, the ironic ending, the words of the protagonist all formed in the time it took me to open the pantry and pull the popcorn bag out.

I’m guessing most writers love when things like that happen, but it was a little inconvenient for me. You see, I’m already working on two other novels.

I never thought I’d be one to enjoy splitting my focus like this, and the truth is, I guess “enjoy” really isn’t the right word. What I’m doing is necessary. Most writers know how it feels to reach a point where you have to force yourself to work, where the ideas just don’t flow magically out your fingertips onto the keyboard. I was at that point while waiting for World Maker to go on submission, and my solution was to split my focus to relieve the pressure of committing to one thing other than World Maker while I stayed stuck in my World Maker headspace.

But World Maker itself is a product of a period of forced writing (a page a day!), so I know that discipline can yield results for me. The trouble is that of the two manuscripts I’d been juggling, one is a rewrite of the manuscript I finished before World Maker, and the rewrite is basically being done for voice and characterization, which is not something you can fix with a few turns of phrase. This intimidated me, which is why I started the new project, and then got caught up on all the historical research I needed to do for it.

So far, my pattern has been to issue myself a challenge with every new manuscript. With manuscript #1 (Prosorinos) the challenge was to finish. With manuscript #2 (Wishstone) it was to write a fantasy. (Until that point, I had strictly considered myself a writer of adult science fiction). Then manuscript #2 was rewritten as a young adult story (which still needs work, hence the revision for voice and character). Then with manuscript #3 (World Maker) I set out from the start to write a YA, using appropriate voice. Now with manuscript #4 (Jewelry) the challenge is to use an ensemble cast. Manuscript #5 (untitled, maybe The Getting Popcorn Book) isn’t asking me to jump into something new plotwise or artwise, so maybe its challenge is to get me to make serious progress on more than one novel at once.

Did you keep all those titles straight in that last paragraph? See how juggling multiple manuscripts feels?

Still, it’s pretty exciting to have so much writing complete and so much that’s ready to come out. There was a period of time in my writing life when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get another good idea. Now I’m confident that no matter which of my novel ideas I focus on I can get to “The End” in a matter of a few months. World Maker, having been written in four months, gave me that confidence.

I think for now I’ll make progress a little bit at a time on three different projects. If World Maker sells, I’ll do some consulting to determine which project to finally drop everything else for.

Do you ever work on more than one project at once? Any tricks you want to share?

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Where I’m at Part 5Yes, I finally have an agent!

So this not-quite-published-yet writer is one step closer to getting published. I’ve cleared a hurdle that felt so big it may as well have been a pole vault bar. I’ve just signed with the very talented Alexandra Machinist at Janklow and Nesbit, who will be representing me for my third manuscript, still tentatively titled World Maker.

Of course I am over the moon about this! BUT! I know that signing with an agent does not guarantee a publishing contract (not that I doubt the taste or skill of Ms. Machinist in any way). Nor does a publishing contract guarantee awesome sales. There are many hurdles yet to clear, and we’ll see if they’re the standard 100 meter height, the more lofty pole vault height, or something more akin to a mountain.

For now I’m just so happy to have gotten this far!

Here is a brief summary of my agent search:

I completed manuscript #1 in 2006. It’s my 169,000-word science fiction story set on a faraway planet in the future. For me, this story is still my favorite, but I recognized early on that its length is a problem, and that since it was my first try at novel writing it might not be awesome to everyone else, so I started another story.

I completed manuscript #2 in 2011. It’s a 90,000-word YA fantasy set in ancient Greece. This I shopped during the fall of last year, and while I waited to hear the verdict from a bunch of agents who requested the full manuscript, I started manuscript #3.

I completed manuscript #3 (World Maker) in January of this year (4 and a half months!). At the tail end of February I sent it out to nine agents, three of whom I considered the perfect match both for me as a writer and for World Maker as a story. When I heard back from six of those nine, I sent another round of queries, then another some weeks later, then another. Four rounds for me equaled about 50 agents, all of whom I researched at length, and any of whom I would have been pleased to work with.

In May, while waiting on World Maker queries, I started writing manuscript #4. I decided to stop querying on World Maker and simply wait out the responses on what was out already. I had reached the end of my list of agents I thought were a strong match, and I thought if I got no offers I would simply either finish manuscript #4 or redraft manuscript #2 and start again fresh.

On Monday, July 9, 2012, I had four full requests pending on World Maker when Alexandra Machinist called me to offer representation. I stopped breathing. I don’t think I inhaled or exhaled through the entire conversation, which lasted something like an hour. When I hung up the phone I emailed the other three agents with the manuscript to inform them of the offer. One declined to make an offer, one didn’t get back to me, and the other offered representation two days later.

Remember I said I considered three of the agents from my first round to be the perfect match? Well, the two agents who made offers were two of the three! How lucky is that?

In a future post I might share some wisdom I’ve acquired during this quest for an agent (though I don’t presume to be wise, I can relate some details of my experience), but for now I have some work to do on revisions before the manuscript goes on submission again. This time to editors!



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Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.

— Tim Noakes