As readers of this blog know, I recently attended a fab free seminar moderated by Susan Shapiro. Last week, I wrote two posts containing info gleamed from the discussion: 8 Quick Query Letter Tips and Shapiro: Debut Book Should Not Be Cross-Genre.
But I wanted to mention a random tidbit that was mentioned. An audience member lamented that he had sent a manuscript to an agent and was waiting a long time — months — for feedback and was wondering when a good time would be for follow-up. Of course, follow-up procedures are different for each agent — that kind of info can be found at places like Mediabistro and Literary Marketplace — but the panelists generally agreed that a quick follow-up right now should be okay. One of the agents on hand apologized for said agent and said that she could relate: Sometimes things fall through the cracks even though we try to be as diligent as possible. (Certainly, as an editor — and mom — I can relate to that.) Then she said this, off the cuff:
“Authors who have manuscripts with titles at the beginning of the alphabet I usually read first, because I read them on my Kindle.”
She quickly added:
“Not that you should change the title of your book, but that’s just the way I read.”
My first thought on hearing this was: “Yay! Baby Grand starts with a B.” Although that doesn’t really matter since my novel is represented, read and revised at this point. But I was reminded of all the factors there are to getting a book published that are out of the aspiring author’s control: what slots editors have available on their lists, when agents respond to our queries/manuscripts, what’s hot in the market right now, what’s not. The waiting… That’s probably the hardest.
“I used to think that a person just wrote a book, sent it to someone who liked it, and it got published,” my husband said to me recently. “I’ll never look at a book in Barnes & Noble the same way.”
Still, since I started writing Baby Grand in February 2009, I’ve had a very lucky, wonderful, smooth experience so far, but I’ve always known the road would be long and fraught with all kinds of stops and starts and things that were out of my control. And I don’t mind. I’m with Jimmy Dugan, who in A League of Their Own said: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”