Wednesday, August 01, 2018

So, that novel you had on sub for nine years...

I have so many questions about your revelation that you once had a book on submission for nine years.

In no particular order:

(1)  What did the author do during those nine years? Write more books, I assume?
yes indeed. Seven of them sold.

(2) Did you also represent/send out on submission those other books during this 9-year time period?

(3) Did the author have to re-query you for those books?
No. Once I've got you, you don't query, you just send me mss. Then we discuss.

(4) Is that the sort of thing authors should discuss with agents before accepting an offer of representation?

Yes, clarify if the agreement is for one book or for a career

(5) Would it be unheard of for you to rep this 9-year book and another agent to be repping other books??

For me it would be. I like to have all my author's work on my list.

(6)  How many times was the book submitted? Were there simultaneous submissions? Did the book get SOCLOSE a couple times? HOW MUCH SCOTCH DID YOU DRINK?

I've lost count of how many editors had it. It was a lot.

(7)  Did you change literary agencies during those 9 years? How did that work?


(8) In nine years, did some editors see the book twice because they switched jobs and had different lists??

No. It would be rare for an editor to request a book they'd passed on. It happens SOMETIMES if an editor can't muster in house support for a book, then moves to a more amenable publisher.

(9)  Were there edits during those 9 years?

oh jebus, yes. More than I care to think about.

(10) Was this the author's first book?
Not even close. 

I think the full story is in Writing Without Rules by Jeff Somers. It's his novel CHUM that sold after nine years.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Ha! I knew it was Chum you were talking about because I love Writing Without Rules even more than Colin does. Even if I don't have the blasted t-shirt. I don't wear pants so my show of support is even better. Still, this illustrates what a great writer-agent partnership can be. Us lesser mortals can only dream.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Nine years.
A heartbeat, a blink, a gasp, a lifetime.
I am not discouraged, I am inspired.

Timothy Lowe said...

Goes to show the value of perseverance. I don't think this is an isolated story in the writing world. Got to keep plugging at it!

Panda in Chief said...

Wow! Only 2 comments already. I am up early!

This is very encouraging and yes, maybe even inspiring. I'm about to reach my second anniversary of being on sub, I am working on more books in that series (yes, I am a glutton for punishment, but also obsessed by my characters - pandas!) but also working on other projects, including a picture book. I am waiting for the ship to come in, the damn to break, and it isn't over till the fat panda sings (picture a panda wearing a horned metal helmet and Wagnerian armor kind of get up)

I'm hoping I live long enough to reach my goals in this publishing long game. I guess I'll find out!

James Thane said...

It's reassuring to know that at least some agents are this conscientious and determined. After telling me that my book was "the best first novel" she'd ever read, my agent gave up after three months and six rejections, claiming that there was no point in going on. She cost me a year and a half of my life and I lost what I still think was a pretty good book.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Sorry to hear that. Maybe you can still take the book for another spin at the dance floor?

BrendaLynn said...

That level of loyalty from a business partner is inspiring.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Yayyyyy... just bought WWR, and am looking forward to the whole gruesome story. I love that it has a shark on the cover. (King Kong is pretty neat too.)

James - I agree with Cecilia. Surely, if only six editors have even seen your book, it still has potential publishing life in it? Are you still with that same agent? (And the unspoken question: How good is she? I mean, what kind of attitude is "no point in going on" after so little effort?)

CynthiaMc said...

I have Writing Without Rules on hold for me at the Barnes & Noble I pass on the way home from work. (There's one I use at work and one I use at home. Both know me well).

I used to have a tote that said "When I have a little money I buy books and if I have any left over I buy food and clothes." That's me. I suspect it's a lot of you all as well.

Barbara Etlin said...

Not only am I going to buy Writing Without Rules, I'm also going to buy Chum, because such persistence is inspiring. I love success stories like these.

James, don't give up on that book. Six submissions is nothing. Find an agent who believes in you and your book.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

JAMES your book is not lost. It just hasn't found it's place yet.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

This was so interesting... Terrific questions, OP. Loved the answers. Thanks Janet. Except now I want everyone to come over and sit on my porch so we can talk about all this, and other writerly/publishy stuff.

Lennon Faris said...

Very interesting! Thanks for asking, OP. And I am so glad you told us what book it was, Janet. I was dying of curiosity. Chum shall be added to my list!

James - I'll add my voice to the others. If you believe in that book, don't give up on it yet. I think I've heard Janet say before that a 'lightly shopped book' will not be enticing, so it won't be the one that gets you another agent (if you're looking, which I hope you are - yeesh). BUT query an agent with another book and then, once you publish Book #2, bring this one out of the woodwork for your new agent to look over.

(Someone correct this if it's not true).

roadkills-r-us said...

Again, if you haven't bought Jeff's _Writing Without Rules_, just do it. It's worth it for the story with the bookcase and the cats alone.
Speaking of that book, it wasn't on Jeff's Wikipedia page. I added it. If you find things missing like that, set up a Wikipedia account and help edit pages!
Melanie, what part of the country is your porch in?