The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

literaryguitar

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I'm still on sub, 7 weeks into second round. But I think we only have a handful of editors left who haven't replied and this is last round.
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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Sub glitter for all!

Raggy!!! I’m so excited for you! Crossing all crossables. And it seems as if readers are loving your new release, too.

Welcome, literaryguitar! As someone who reads a lot of literary fiction, I have huge admiration for anyone who can write something a little dark and daring and get as much positive interest as you have! I realize that not selling is not selling, but maybe you’ll have some luck with a good small press. Is Two Dollar Radio one of the ones that accept unagented subs, or no? I know someone who published with them, and the book got a ton of press attention.

I’ve been lurking in self-publishing forums, and there’s so much pressure to produce, produce, produce! It’s impressive, but I’m not that writer. One book a year would be a ton for me. Right now I have a tight deadline, which I’m juggling with my day job, and we’ll see how that turns out. All this is just to say that slow writers and people who take long breaks from writing are still writers. Everyone approaches it differently. Some ideas need slow percolation, especially in the literary realm.

I do think publishers are likely to offer less on an exclusive option sub than they would when they fear that other publishers are waiting to snap up the book. Also, when you’ve published with them before, they know your “sales track,” and that will be a factor. Agents can still negotiate on exclusive offers, though, and walk away and do a wide sub if they don’t get what they want. The previous book’s contract spells out parameters for all of that.
 
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literaryguitar

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Fuchsia, I know you've published several books too, so it's hard for me not to think of you as a fast writer! Though, of course, since I read pages and pages of this thread at a time, it probably seemed like your books were getting published faster than they were, since I basically read a year's worth of posts over a few days or a week or two. But thank you for saying we're still real writers even if we write slowly and/or not all the time.

I had not heard of Two Dollar Radio-- thank you-- but I just looked them up and they're closed for submissions and looks like they have been for a while. I wrote them to ask if they accept agented submissions when their open submissions are closed, but I'm guessing the answer is no as there is nothing mentioned about agents on their site. But thank you-- I will bookmark their site and check back if my book is handed back to me at the end of this round.

I'm still hoping maybe one of the last remaining editors is thinking about it. One of them is a big indie press that takes agented submissions year-round and unagented through an annual contest, and the first draft of this MS was long listed for their fiction prize in 2020, and the current draft is about 50% longer and a lot better, so until I hear from my editor that they've sent an R, I'm holding out a little hope they might offer. But for all I know they've already sent an R, since my agent doesn't forward them individually to me. I know I can ask her to, but her general practice is not to and I think it would depress me. She sent me all the substantive ones in a single batch at the end of round 1. I've tried to console myself with the knowledge that editors at Doubleday, Penguin, etc. said they liked the book, but that only works sometimes. When it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure we'd all rather get a tepid offer than a slew of effusive rejections.
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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I'm still hoping maybe one of the last remaining editors is thinking about it. One of them is a big indie press that takes agented submissions year-round and unagented through an annual contest, and the first draft of this MS was long listed for their fiction prize in 2020, and the current draft is about 50% longer and a lot better, so until I hear from my editor that they've sent an R, I'm holding out a little hope they might offer. But for all I know they've already sent an R, since my agent doesn't forward them individually to me. I know I can ask her to, but her general practice is not to and I think it would depress me. She sent me all the substantive ones in a single batch at the end of round 1. I've tried to console myself with the knowledge that editors at Doubleday, Penguin, etc. said they liked the book, but that only works sometimes. When it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure we'd all rather get a tepid offer than a slew of effusive rejections.
I’m glad there’s still hope left for a few editors! And the one from the press that longlisted your ms. sounds like a strong prospect. I know it’s difficult to keep hoping at this point, but I will do some hoping on your behalf. I honestly think dark literary is the hardest fiction to sell, and dark is particularly hard right now, so the praise you’ve received means a lot.

That’s too bad about Two Dollar Radio! Hope they open to subs again soon.

I’ve only published two books, and the second one took three years to get right (if it ever actually was right). The third book is coming this summer, and it’s the one I’m proudest of, but I don’t quite get the sense that the world will love it like I do. It was worth it, though.
 
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literaryguitar

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I’m glad there’s still hope left for a few editors! And the one from the press that longlisted your ms. sounds like a strong prospect. I know it’s difficult to keep hoping at this point, but I will do some hoping on your behalf. I honestly think dark literary is the hardest fiction to sell, and dark is particularly hard right now, so the praise you’ve received means a lot.

That’s too bad about Two Dollar Radio! Hope they open to subs again soon.
It turns out that Two Dollar Radio takes agented subs and my agent had already submitted to them and they're reading! My agent finally sent me the sub list after I wrote her asking if they take agented subs and, if so, if she can send it to them. Since this was about the 5th time I've asked her something like that, she sent me her sub list and the list of who has already rejected. It looks like I'm still out with 15 editors, mostly of large indie presses, after she told me a couple of weeks ago there were only 9 left. I think she must have kept submitting after that. I think early on she only wanted to go with Big 5 imprints or the very biggest of the Indies, but when there were no bites I think she's branched out more. She still won't do tiny presses for me or presses that are currently open to unagented subs, but it looks like she's now hoping for a largish indie to pick it up and so is sending to more of them, since almost all of the Big 5 imprints have passed (I think there may be one or two who haven't responded).

So I guess I should buckle down for a very long wait, as some of the Indies take a very very long time to respond and she said some just never respond if they don't want something. Two Dollar Radio's website says that when they're open for direct submissions their response time is a year. I have no idea if they respond more quickly to agented subs? At any rate, smaller pubs with fewer readers apparently equals longer response times and not only for that press but for all of the Indies. Which is ok with me, as long as I know where we stand. I thought we were down to a lot fewer than that and was thinking through my next steps. I guess I should just leave it all be for now and see what happens.

My agent also noted that she's gotten "a small amount of interest from" the press that previously long listed the first draft of my MS for their fiction prize, and that they've asked for more time to read. I don't know what "a small amount of interest" means? I suppose I should be able to ask my agent that, but I have the feeling I've been asking her too many questions lately and don't want to ask since it makes no difference to her or my actions and I think I've sent her at least one question about indie presses per week for the last 3-4 weeks. She responds within a day, almost always, but I get the sense it's becoming a bit much. So does anyone have an idea of what "a small amount of interest" expressed by an editor to an agent means? Does it usually just mean an editor saying they're reading and like the book so far? Because that I got a lot of that during the first round without an offer-- a bunch of the Big 5 imprints asked for more time and said they were "really enjoying the MS" or "loving the writing" or whatever but then ultimately rejected it. So I assume that's the kind of thing she means now when she says she got a "small amount of interest." But I don't actually know.

This business is a bit maddening. If you haven't noticed. :)

I'd like to offer some virtual hard lemonade to anyone currently waiting. In fact, have a 6 pack. And your own packet of glitter.
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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It turns out that Two Dollar Radio takes agented subs and my agent had already submitted to them and they're reading! My agent finally sent me the sub list after I wrote her asking if they take agented subs and, if so, if she can send it to them. Since this was about the 5th time I've asked her something like that, she sent me her sub list and the list of who has already rejected. It looks like I'm still out with 15 editors, mostly of large indie presses, after she told me a couple of weeks ago there were only 9 left. I think she must have kept submitting after that. I think early on she only wanted to go with Big 5 imprints or the very biggest of the Indies, but when there were no bites I think she's branched out more. She still won't do tiny presses for me or presses that are currently open to unagented subs, but it looks like she's now hoping for a largish indie to pick it up and so is sending to more of them, since almost all of the Big 5 imprints have passed (I think there may be one or two who haven't responded).

So I guess I should buckle down for a very long wait, as some of the Indies take a very very long time to respond and she said some just never respond if they don't want something. Two Dollar Radio's website says that when they're open for direct submissions their response time is a year. I have no idea if they respond more quickly to agented subs? At any rate, smaller pubs with fewer readers apparently equals longer response times and not only for that press but for all of the Indies. Which is ok with me, as long as I know where we stand. I thought we were down to a lot fewer than that and was thinking through my next steps. I guess I should just leave it all be for now and see what happens.

My agent also noted that she's gotten "a small amount of interest from" the press that previously long listed the first draft of my MS for their fiction prize, and that they've asked for more time to read. I don't know what "a small amount of interest" means? I suppose I should be able to ask my agent that, but I have the feeling I've been asking her too many questions lately and don't want to ask since it makes no difference to her or my actions and I think I've sent her at least one question about indie presses per week for the last 3-4 weeks. She responds within a day, almost always, but I get the sense it's becoming a bit much. So does anyone have an idea of what "a small amount of interest" expressed by an editor to an agent means? Does it usually just mean an editor saying they're reading and like the book so far? Because that I got a lot of that during the first round without an offer-- a bunch of the Big 5 imprints asked for more time and said they were "really enjoying the MS" or "loving the writing" or whatever but then ultimately rejected it. So I assume that's the kind of thing she means now when she says she got a "small amount of interest." But I don't actually know.

This business is a bit maddening. If you haven't noticed. :)

I'd like to offer some virtual hard lemonade to anyone currently waiting. In fact, have a 6 pack. And your own packet of glitter.
Yay for getting your sub list! I think that’s a really important thing to have, both for your own information and for contingencies. And yay for still being out with 15 editors! Your agent clearly has a ton of faith in the ms., and that’s vital. (Some agents call it quits after 10 subs to big imprints, ask me how I know… I’m not talking about my current agent!)

“A small amount of interest” sounds like your agent doesn’t want to get your hopes up too much, or is just careful and conservative about conveying editor interest in general. It could mean many things, but “reading and enjoying” makes sense to me. Your agent may have heard that phrase a lot and may want to manage your expectations. But sometimes “reading and enjoying” does lead to a sale—you just never know. Or maybe they haven’t started reading yet, but they want more time to give it a serious look. Many possibilities.

I recommend leaving it be, thinking about it as little as possible, and giving yourself the treat of writing and reading whatever gives you joy. Sub is agony. Even selling, in the end, creates a whole new set of worries. The antidote has to come from within. Nothing has ever made me embrace the Buddhist/mindful/stoic approach like publishing does. :)
 

RaggyCat

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I do think publishers are likely to offer less on an exclusive option sub than they would when they fear that other publishers are waiting to snap up the book. Also, when you’ve published with them before, they know your “sales track,” and that will be a factor. Agents can still negotiate on exclusive offers, though, and walk away and do a wide sub if they don’t get what they want. The previous book’s contract spells out parameters for all of that.
Put that way, Fuchsia, that does make sense - I don't think I'd thought it through properly. I could also see the publisher sitting on this a while, and waiting for more intel about sales, etc - though this is the kind of thing I'm sure my agent would give them a deadline on, and the intel I have so far suggests that the publisher won't do this. Thanks for being kind about my new release! The buzz is dying down a little after sub month, but hopefully it will keep up in some capacity - the book was on a Kindle Daily Deal over Easter and I think sold OK on that, so over the next few months some of those readers may pick it up and read and post about it.

Self-publishing terrifes me. Not in itself, because it's a great option, but because of all the work involved. I cannot imagine doing all the promotion myself, AND holding down a regular job too (and in some cases taking care of family in top of that, too.) I only work part-time and sporadically, so I can fit in quite a lot of writing stuff - but even with that I feel quite stretched to my limit sometimes! Two books a year (one more straightforward than the other) would be doable for me, but not more.

literaryguitar, yay for getting your sub list! I've always had those (sometimes with editor names, sometimes just the publishers/imprints) and it's good intel to have. I agree with Fuchsia that it sounds like your agent is managing your expectations, but great that she has been happy to cast the net wider (within reason.) Although I've not experienced it myself, I know many agents don't. I'd interpret 'small amount of interest' as some positive comments, and a sign that the press wants to take a bit more time to consider your submission (and possibly get some second reads.) I once, ages ago, have a publisher ask for more time, and this is what happened to me.

Forgetting about sub is easier said than done, isn't it? I've always found the best way is to try to write something new and fall in love with that.
 

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I'm sure my agent would give them a deadline on, and the intel I have so far suggests that the publisher won't do this.
Raggy, did your agent give you any sense of when you'll find out? In some ways, this sounds harder to wait for than being on regular sub, because there's a specific answer you know is coming at some point from one specific place, and you're holding off on all other options while you wait. Do you feel anxious about it, or just good that you have this option, and knowing you can do a regular sub if needed?
 

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Raggy, did your agent give you any sense of when you'll find out? In some ways, this sounds harder to wait for than being on regular sub, because there's a specific answer you know is coming at some point from one specific place, and you're holding off on all other options while you wait. Do you feel anxious about it, or just good that you have this option, and knowing you can do a regular sub if needed?

No sense, I'm afraid. I do know that editors need to do a fair bit of work to take a book to meetings (and my editor wil also need to gather intel on how my recent release is doing), so I'm guessing it won't be as quick as I might like. I only sent my synopsis to my agent a week ago, so I wouldn't expect it to have gone anywhere yet, and I also don't know how frequently the publisher has such meetings. Best off put out of my head for now, I guess.

Mostly, I feel good that I have this option, but also low-level anxious that there will be a problem with the idea, and the editor will want me to write something different. The book that is being pitched is already complete and I've put an awful lot of work into it, so if there's a problem with it in concept, I'll find that quite difficult, I think.
 

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If the MS is complete, did your agent give it to them, or only the synopsis for some reason?
My agent thinks we may be able to sell it on synopsis only - she said the publishers trust in my abilities (which is nice) so are really looking for the hook. While it's true that the manuscript is complete, I'm also messing around with the opening chapters a bit - they're the only thing that isn't quite right. ,Until I'm done with them, we can't send a sample, or the full.
 

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My agent thinks we may be able to sell it on synopsis only - she said the publishers trust in my abilities (which is nice) so are really looking for the hook. While it's true that the manuscript is complete, I'm also messing around with the opening chapters a bit - they're the only thing that isn't quite right. ,Until I'm done with them, we can't send a sample, or the full.
Well, then it seems like this isn't even taking the place of regular sub, but kind of a bonus round before you even finish the MS!

Seems like this must mean you've reached another level in the publishing world. :)
 

Fuchsia Groan

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I hope you get a rapid and positive response, RaggyCat! It sounds like your agent has confidence in the premise being right for your editor, which is very encouraging!

The previous book’s contract should specify how long the imprint has for an exclusive look at your next book. For me, I think it’s always been 45 days. Is that how long the decision actually took? Hah, no, more like two or three months. But it’s nice to know there is a deadline to nudge them about.

The last option submission I made was 90 pages of the ms., no synopsis for some reason. I’m impressed that you have the whole ms. done, Raggy!
 

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Good point on the contract, Fuchsia - I just checked and my current publisher has right of first refusal for 8 weeks. It says "consider the author's next young adult work" so I'm guessing that would include the presentation of a synopsis. If that's the case, it's definitely something to put out of my head for now.

I think it's more common to sell a future book on a sample, as you say, but having asked a few questions, I know of several authors who've sold on outline/proposal. So not unheard of.
 

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I've been sort of in and out here, trying to keep up for the most part. That all sounds quire promising, RaggyCat!

My brain has been focused elsewhere, but I'm still waiting to hear from my agent about when we'll be starting round 2 of submission and who we'll be submitting to. It's been, what, a month or two since the time-out date with our 1st round. I've nudged gently for info but the answer was "more to come soon". Which is fine for now, because, again, my brain in elsewhere. I did send her a comp that I think is a great match, and she agreed it's useful. So . . . holding pattern for now.
 

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I'm tiptoeing into this thread after spending the past few months skimming many of the prior years represented here and feeling equal parts inspired and depressed. This sub thing is hard...

My story: romance writer (not in the hottest subgenre, but one that's got a steady audience and that I love writing and reading). Signed with my agent a few months ago after an extensive R&R that I took about 8 months to complete. Minimal revisions to the ms, out on sub to the major trad and bigger indie publishers 9 weeks ago. My agent has made big sales in my subgenre in the past few years. Those first two weeks were exhilarating! The following three were demoralizing.

Unlike many in this group, I requested that my agent give me less information about passes. Weekly updates were messing with my mental health. I now check in about once a month to learn how many editors are still an option. At last check in (a few weeks ago) about half the original editors were left. It's not a huge number. I plan to ask for selected useful feedback once the round is dead. So far there's no consistent feedback, according to my agent. No reports of second reads, acquisitions, or anything like that. Either it's not happening, they haven't told my agent about such doings, or she hasn't told me, but I suspect it's the first. (I kind of don't want to know if there's promise unless the promise is fulfilled).

I've decided emotionally that the book is done and won't be published in current form. I'm working hard on the "sequel." Since it's romance, the sequel is an independent plot about other characters in the same world and can be shopped and read as a stand-alone--but I'm hoping I can piggy-back a revised version of the first book as a part of a deal if I manage to sell this new WIP. I have a rich fantasy life, if you can't tell.

Some days I feel determined, positive, and like I'm earning my stripes. Other days I feel desperate, hopeless, and like I'm a demented fool to imagine this will ever work out. So...a writer?
 

literaryguitar

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Unlike many in this group, I requested that my agent give me less information about passes. Weekly updates were messing with my mental health. I now check in about once a month to learn how many editors are still an option. At last check in (a few weeks ago) about half the original editors were left. It's not a huge number. I plan to ask for selected useful feedback once the round is dead. So far there's no consistent feedback, according to my agent. No reports of second reads, acquisitions, or anything like that. Either it's not happening, they haven't told my agent about such doings, or she hasn't told me, but I suspect it's the first. (I kind of don't want to know if there's promise unless the promise is fulfilled).

I've decided emotionally that the book is done and won't be published in current form. I'm working hard on the "sequel." Since it's romance, the sequel is an independent plot about other characters in the same world and can be shopped and read as a stand-alone--but I'm hoping I can piggy-back a revised version of the first book as a part of a deal if I manage to sell this new WIP. I have a rich fantasy life, if you can't tell.

Some days I feel determined, positive, and like I'm earning my stripes. Other days I feel desperate, hopeless, and like I'm a demented fool to imagine this will ever work out. So...a writer?
My situation is very similar. Except that I've decided that if my book doesn't sell, I'm going to sub it myself to very small indie publishers and possibly hybrid publishers. I'm 50 years old and not hellbent on big publishers enough to trunk the book and try the next one. I'd like to see this one published in some form, however it needs to happen.
 

literaryguitar

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It's very quiet in here! No news from anyone?

The past years' thread that I read was so active! Once I got to the end and joined the forum, it seems to have largely gone away. Maybe from being down for 6 months last year... sad, because there doesn't seem to be any other forum specifically for writers on sub...
 

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Not much to report here. Planning to send my book 2 edits to my editor at the weekend. Otherwise, I got to see the German and Polish covers for my book, and just received my Finnish author copies today. I'm very lucky that I've loved every cover so far.
 

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It's very quiet in here! No news from anyone?

The past years' thread that I read was so active! Once I got to the end and joined the forum, it seems to have largely gone away. Maybe from being down for 6 months last year... sad, because there doesn't seem to be any other forum specifically for writers on sub...
I think quite a few people have been starting their own separate threads to talk about their rejection woes.
 

literaryguitar

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I think quite a few people have been starting their own separate threads to talk about their rejection woes.
Where? Somewhere else on AW or another forum?

It's been over 2 months now for me since Round 2 started and the edginess is mostly gone. It's either gonna happen or it's not, and I may not know for sure for a while. So it's started to feel like something else, much less consuming.
 

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I swear the waits to hear back about sub are longer than they used to be pre-pandemic, or maybe that's simply my erroneous perception of time!

Hi, iblamejane! I think what you're experiencing is very common to many of us on this thread... sub starts out as enormously exciting, but then it becomes very hard to manage and demoralising. I'd say you're doing the best thing by detaching a little and working on something new that is standalone but has a nod to the past book. I know someone who writes romance whose first sub book didn't make it, but the second sub book (featuring a supporting character from book 1 as the MC) did, and that was no problem at all. Hang in there, it's tough, and you're in good company here.

Angeliz2k - any update from your agent?

literaryguitar - I think pre-pandemic there were more regulars posting in here. Sometime in 2020 the forum went down for an extended period (several months) and to my observation, it has never been quite as busy since (at least, in the threads I tend to hang out in.) I permanently lurk though!

Elle - glad you like your covers! My nightmare is hating one of mine, but it hasn't happened yet.

I do have a small bit of news: my agent emailed to let me know that my editor hasn't yet taken my synopsis for new YA to acquisitions (due to staff absences) but is planning to next week. EEK. I do also know via my agent that sales of my April release are good so far, which is a relief and lovely to hear. I didn't get sales updates with my 2011-2013 books, perhaps keeping authors more in the loop is a newer thing? It's nice to have that transparency.
 
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