10. December 2006 · Comments Off on Lifestyles of the Struggling Writer · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, Working In A Salt Mine...

Last week I nerved myself up to actually call the literary agent who was reviewing the entire manuscript of “To Truckee’s Trail”. He had e-mailed me at the beginning of November that he was savoring every word and would let me know “soon”… but I had already begun to sense what the word would be, when I didn’t hear anything by mid-month.
And the word was, no, he didn’t think he’d be able to “sell” it to one of the big name publishers; although he was very complimentary— it’s a terrifically gripping read, very nice characters, and researched down to the third decimal place— but…

And this is what I have come to think of as the “Big But”; it would be a hard sell, harder than he wanted to dive into. It’s not quite a genre western, definitely not a romance, since the passionate relationship is between two people who have been married for a decade at least, and it’s not the sort of historical novel that seems to sell these days, which as he explained it, is about an unknown aspect of an event or person that people have heard about (Sigmund Freud, the Civil War). He floated the Stephens Party in a couple of casual conversations, and drew an absolute blank every time… which I thought would have been a selling point, but never mind.

No way does this put me back to square one: I’ve been applying to other lit agencies all along; so far, three form rejections which are about what I’d expect, but…

Another “Big But”… a friend of a friend who is a writer himself and coached me through writing up a proper proposal, and sample chapter, etc, is going to put it straight to his publisher. He is not one of the really big names, but he has made a regular living at it for a long while, and moreover is a big fan of my stuff. I’ve tweaked the manuscript again, in response to feedback from knowledgeable readers, and he will review it one more time, and send it in after Christmas. Apparently, nothing happens in the publishing world over Christmas.

Over the last month or so, I sent out a number of proposed articles to various magazines; rewritings of some of my best blog entries, actually. One of them is being considered by a history magazine, and two of them have been rejected…. But with a hand-written note of encouragement from the reviewing editor, expressing profound enjoyment of them, and apologizing because the publication had no budget for free-lancers this quarter.

This represents a step up for my rejection slip collection, actually; yeah, they’re rejection slips, but they are nice rejections, and give evidence that the submission was actually read and considered. It’s all about progress.

I’ve started the next book, too: the one about the German settlements in the Texas Hill Country. Now, that will have positively operatic levels of everything: the wild frontier, lust, cliff-hanging danger and sudden death. I might even put some sex into it, too.

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