Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Rodent Wheel speed limit exceeded

I'm really confused about what to do next. I submitted my book to several agents, but didn't get any offer. So I sent it to a couple of publishers. One of these - a big publisher - wrote back to say they had been looking for a project like this and were very interested and would get back to me with an answer soon. That was three months ago. But I recently got an offer from another publisher (a small press). They gave me a deadline to decide by. So I let the big publisher know. They wrote back to say they were still interested and would get back to me by the deadline. The deadline is in a few days and according to twitter (we follow each other, so not stalking), the editor I was in communication with at the big publisher has just gone on a two-week vacation and wrote they'd finished up all their work before they left. So I have no idea what to do now. Am I to assume the bigger publisher is no longer interested or forgot about my book? (yes) Or that they will email from vacation to offer on it (unlikely)?(no) If I turn down the small press, will the bigger publisher think I lied about the offer? (no) If I accept the small publisher offer, what do I do if the bigger publisher comes back late and says they're interested? (nothing) Can I email the editor who is on vacation about the deadline and see if they're still interested or will this look desperate? (sure/don't worry about how things look)

I'm not sure if I want the offer from the small publisher, as would rather an offer from the bigger one. But I'm willing to accept the small press if nothing else comes up. I'm just really confused about what to do with the big publisher. If they weren't replying to me, I would assume they were no longer interested and move on, but every email they've sent me has said they ARE interested. But now with this vacation news and still no answer, I don't know what to think. It's like they keep saying they're interested but their actions indicate they're not? Why wouldn't they just say they're not interested? I just think it's really weird and I don't have an agent to chase them up so I'm on my own with this. What do you think I should do? Forgot about them and move on or try one last email attempt to seek clarification? They are a great publisher and would love an offer from them but not sure what more I can do now. If they forgot the deadline, then what else can I do?

Let's cut through all the dithering. You have an offer from a publisher. You have to say yes or no by a certain date.

That's all you know.

I have no idea what's going on behind the scenes at the other publisher. Neither do you. You've let them know you have an offer. That's all you can do.

You can certainly email the larger publisher to say you've taken the offer from the smaller publisher. Or if you elect to decline that offer, you can email them with that information as well.

My experience is that when an editor wants a project s/he takes steps to acquire it. That hasn't happened here.

I also note that you said you submitted your book to "several agents." Several means three. If you mean a few more, it still sounds like fewer than ten.

Your first mistake was giving up on securing an agent.  You can actually resume your agent search now, and see if this book which garnered interest from two publishers will resonate with someone.

Of course, you'll have to pass on the small publisher first because you can't keep them waiting, but it sounds like you want to do that anyway.

Make a list of what you know for sure.
Leave out speculation and supposition.
Act (or don't act) only on that information.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Just asking because I am curious - why would a writer with an offer from a publisher not immediately send queries to agents with the "offer in hand" in the subject line? Then with one offer and possible big publisher interested, a seasoned agent could chase both down and make sure everything was good. Is that the wrong move? Because that is what I would do in this circumstance. I think. I could be wrong.

Mister Furkles said...

My wife found an editor at a Boston publisher who wanted to acquire her novel. The editor stayed in regular contact. She, the editor, took it to the committee which decided not to acquire it. Things go on inside any enterprise and unless they tell you--which they rarely do--you can not guess what is going on.

Lennon Faris said...

If the offer deadline hasn't run out, I think E.M. has a good point. If it has run out, looking for an agent will probably be even harder because the novel is now 'lightly shopped.' I can't remember if you need to put that in the query or not... I'm sure it's in the archives around here somewhere...

LynnRodz said...

My thoughts were exactly like E.M. Goldsmith. You have an offer and you have interest by a BNP. That's info I think agents you query would want to know.

Go with your gut and good luck, OP.

Claire Bobrow said...

I have the same question as E.M..

Donnaeve said...

Well, I have nothing to add b/c Janet gave succinct answers and the only question I had was asked by E.M.

However. The title of this post reminded me of this:


K OCD said...

I feel for you, OP! I wouldn't know either what to do in your situation.

I too have given up on getting an agent. I'm self-publishing now.

I had (still have) kind of an offer from a small publisher and don't want it. Because I just know that I will have to do as much marketing efforts as all by myself. Nobody probably knows this small publisher and all they'd do is put their name (which nobody knows) on my book. And then take from my royalties.

If you could get that big one, that would be different, I suppose. But, these days, there are ways to do it differently. It's a huge jungle, at first, but I'm seeing light now, yay.

Good luck, OP!

Craig F said...

I certainly hope that I don't get into such a sticky spot. That said, I have contemplated it.

The perks of a big publisher are money, advertising and money.

If you want personalized attention, it won't be there. It will be with a smaller publisher. Then there is the possibility that your work will turn them into the next Poisoned Pen or Kensington.

Nice clip, Donna

Richard Mabry said...

Janet, as usual, good advice (even to a rather convoluted question). It all boils down to your last suggestion--act or don't act on what you know. Everything else is supposition, anyway.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

I just love the title to this post!
Almost makes me want to write you an e-mail just to see what kind of clever title you'd give it.

BrendaLynn said...

Nothing to add here other than great news OP that you’ve written such a wonderful book. I had a chuckle at your stalking comment. I had a phone chat with an agent who eventually turned me down. By the time he called I had watched every YouTube video, read every blog post, and tracked every google result. I sifted anything non-publishing out of his feeds until I knew (as best I could) what he was looking for.
In the end my story didn’t pass the acid test but I definitely wasn’t rejected because I contradicted any of his opinions.
Hoping for good news for you.

Sherry Howard said...

There are so many “close, but no cigar” situations in publishing. “I love your work” often falls just short of “I’m publishing your work” and it’s reallllllly hard to interpret that gray area sometimes. Good luck!

Jennifer Mugrage said...

OP, what big publisher accepts nonagented submissions? I don't know of any!
Oops maybe you can't say names on this blog ...

K OCD said...

Jennifer, I don't know where OP lives, or where they have submitted to, but maybe it's something similar to what I have seen/done. Here in the UK, I found a couple of big publishers you can submit to directly. But: it's their digital 'version'.

Harper Collins Digital has (or had, I'm not sure) a window open to submit. I investigated their website (books) and some of their ebooks also make it into print, which I have then seen with my own eyes at Watersones (=British counterpart of Barnes&Noble).

Maybe that's what OP has done!?

It must be something trendy cause I read an article on the BBC about this.


Jennifer Mugrage said...

K OCD ...
Thanks, that explains it. When looking around, I probably saw 'digital publishing' and just passed right by.