Waiting, waiting

untitled Waiting to hear from a publisher is a nail-biting business.

And sending a book-length manuscript to a publisher is an act of bravery, especially if, like me, one does not have an agent.

Nearly a year ago, I tried to attract an agent, but I discovered the hard way that agents (like publishers) can take many months to decide whether or not they can make money from your book.  After I’d spent almost twelve months on that venture, I decided to try my luck by taking a more direct route.

Since my first book was published, that book’s publisher had been taken over by a much larger firm; the person who had nurtured me (and my book) through the maze of publication had moved elsewhere and she said my new manuscript ‘did not fit her list’.

I really understood her position: my memoir, a romance of sorts, would not suit her readership. Although my new memoir is about falling in love and marrying when I was a few months short of my seventieth birthday and my husband was already seventy-one.

As I said, the story is a romance ‘of sorts’, even if we did elope to escape our families. The memoir is also about the aftermath of marrying in what some people consider to be old age.

The next publisher I contacted required a three paragraph synopsis of my work; a sample of the manuscript (up to the first 5000 words); and my writing curriculum vitae or a summary of my previous publications/awards/recognition for my work.

That was easy. I had a completed manuscript that had been read by a couple of my adult granddaughters whose opinion I trust, as well as by a handful of knowledgeable friends. On the whole they had liked it, and made constructive suggestions about what would make it better. Gratefully, I incorporated many of their suggestions and then self-edited it to within an inch of its life.

My first memoir, Other People’s Country, was long listed for the Walkley Best Non-Fiction Books Award and short-listed for the Western Australian Premier’s History Award in the year it was published. It is on the reading list of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation organisation and used in several Autralian universities.Writing my CV was not too hard.

Other Peoples Country

Less than a fortnight after the initial contact, I was invited to send the whole manuscript. Such a joyful, half-forgotten memory!

That was three and a half months ago. Such a long, long time when I’m waiting, waiting. I’m wondering what my next steps will be.

I’ve started a new piece of writing and like what I’m doing well enough. My heart is not really in my new project yet, and real life keeps getting in my way.

Publishers are usually clear about how long it will take for them to assess a manuscript; it’s often three months or more. Some also admonish writers, sternly, not to contact them, but to wait until they hear.

So, like Vladimir and Estragon in Beckett’s Godot, or the character in the AA Milne poem, ‘Fishing’, that’s what I’m doing. I’m waiting!

17 replies on “Waiting, waiting”

  1. I feel for you, I know what it’s like. I’ve done it too often, and I refuse to any more. Apart from the Finch memoir prize, which I was shortlisted for in (I think) 2011-12, and which I’m going to have another try at this year with my second (adult) memoir, I’ve given up on publishers; and as you say, agents also are only interested in what books they can make money from. But you have published a book, very successfully, and that gives you a better chance. I hope you succeed with your second memoir. Having read many published memoirs, I think it’s a very uneven field with some good ones, and many that I think are no better than mine (some not as good). I know that sounds arrogant, but I also know that reviewing is very subjective.
    I’ve read a draft of your second memoir, Maureen, and I”m sure it has an audience, and I hope it will be published by the publisher you’ve submitted it to. Do you have a plan B? E publishing?

    1. Thanks for reaffirming my confidence, Christina. I hope your second (adult) memoir fares very well. I love your first memoir, and some of the images still haunt me, especially the old woman (I think of her as a crone in the most wonderful way) who patiently knits the grasses on the plains near Hay. My plans B to Z involve sending the manuscript elsewhere, self-publishing, e publishing… the ideas are there all right!

        1. I can’t wait to read your second memoir, Christina. I still don’t understand why the first wasn’t snapped up. Publishers!

  2. Waiting is ALWAYS difficult my friend. Specially when so much seems to be invested in your work. You love your work and it may be that others do not? Or is your work too close to the bone? Or is it more fantasy (in their view) than memoir?
    I reckon you shouldn’t have to wait. BUT what would I know anyway??

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I just tell myself that publishers are slow workers. That’s the best plan! And when I look at you, and I complain, I wonder what I’m on about. Thanks for being my friend.

  3. … “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
    ― Julian of Norwich

    Though I am not a praticising religious person, Maureen, I am soothed by the words and the rhythm and the message that quotation presents – I have befenfitted from it myself on occasion.

    1. Thank you for reminding me about that beautiful quotation, Coral. I recently bought a little book of writings by Julian of Norwich because I planned to attend a course at Maranatha on the women mystics. So far, haven’t made it.

    1. Thanks for your support, Whispering Gums. I really love the process of writing – it’s just the waiting that gets me.

  4. Bugger the powers that be- we just want to read your book!
    I would never have the patience to write, rewrite and rewrite the rewrite!
    Good on you Maureen, it must be accepted soon. Xx

    1. I wonder about self publishing and/or creating an e-book. I look forward to hearing about your experience if you go that path. I mostly read on my tablet these days. It seems quicker to access books that way.

  5. Maureen, I love your writing—it flows, it’s easy to read, it’s honest, and it’s moving. Your second book will find a home, I’m sure of it.

    Although there are a few things I need to tidy up in my MS, I’ve just sent it off to a couple of competitions as it is or I would have missed the deadline! Now, my wait starts …

    1. Oh, Louise, welcome to the waiting game. Such an exciting time when one first sends a manuscript into the wide wide world to make its own way. Your baby! Just like poor little what’s-her-name. Good luck with the competitions. Can’t wait to read the whole book. Thanks for your kind words about my writing, and my new story.

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