Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Late Frost in the Garden
So I got the first news on the latest proposal. And, contrary to the sad flower to the left, it really is a mixed bag. One very veteran editor said it made her cry(that's like making Dick Cheney cry). One said that there was too much history(in a historical romance), and another said it simply didn't fit their current requirements, which is perfectly valid.
It's not enough to have a great(if I say so myself) manuscript. Your story has to fit into the editorial slant of a certain house. For instance, I wouldn't think of sending a 300,000 word Viking Vampire Time Travel to Harlequin Historicals. They have a very strict word count.
True story. I sold my first suspense, A MAN TO DIE FOR, on a two-page proposal(never happened before, and certainly never since). By the time I finished the manuscript, the buying editor had left, and the editorial policy had shifted. I sent in the manuscript knowing that, so I wasn't surprised when they called to tell me that what I'd written no longer fit their list. Considering the fact that I sold the project on lines like "Her best friend still drops acid. Her ex-husband is a cross -dressing psychiatrist, and her mother has turned the third floor of the family home into the Chapel of Eternal Vigilance," you can probably pardon the publisher for thinking they'd get a light, fast, funny read. Unfortunately, once I figured out just why the mother had done this, the book had taken a much darker turn. So it was still funny(one editor calls my suspenses the funniest serial killer books you'll ever read), it was fast, but it was no longer light. I'd stepped away from genre, and the publisher didn't know what to do(The story ended well. I even won a RITA Award for the book).
So I'm not surprised that I don't fit somebody's parameters. But does that make me feel better about being rejected? Don't be silly. I still feel as if I've just been hit in the face with a swinging door. Huh? What? Ow, that hurt. Because the long and short of it is that my perfect fantasy has been run over by reality. It doesn't matter how good the manuscript is. It matters what's going on--or not going on--in publishing. My lovely young garden has been hit by bad weather, and the lovely green shoots are a bit curled and brown.
But not dead. I won't allow it.
Eileen\Kathleen, the evil twins