DK Rudd wrote:Steve, that book sounds like one I want to read! Where do I get my hands on that?
You may get your chance to read it. I just returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference with good news. Two publishers and one agent want proposals for the novel. As I have explored what it takes to get published with a traditional publishing house (in America; don’t know about other countries represented in FW), I have discovered that many (most?) CBA houses will no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts or even queries or proposals. Pretty much the only way to get a manuscript looked at is to find a <I>reputable</I> agent to put a proposal in front of an editor for you or go to a conference and get an appointment with an editor to do a 15 min. pitch to see whether they will accept a proposal. Of course to get a reputable agent, you have to jump through their hoops and be accepted, too.
So I was excited to get requests for proposals from WaterBrook Multnomah (owned by Random House) and Bethany House (neither of whom accept manuscripts or queries other than as described above). WaterBrook sent a senior editor and she was not even taking appointments except on an invitation only basis. I’ll skip the long story of what I had to do to get an invitation.
Now I know that being asked for proposals is a long way from getting a contract, but I thought the results were better than 1) sending out cold query letters to those houses that still accept them (if there are any), 2) pitching and everyone saying "no thanks," 3) sending cold query letters to agents, or 4) a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
PLUS, we were told an amazing statistic at the Conference: 80% of the people who are told they can send a proposal never do! I will definitely send one because 1) the novel is already done, 2) two versions of the proposal are already done (6 pages and 19 pages), one of which has already been critiqued, 3) I asked the publishers and agent individually which parts they wanted included in the proposal I will send them, and 4) I do not have to revise the entire novel before sending since each wants only the first 3 chapters (and I can handle that in a timely manner).
The only publisher I pitched the novel to that did not want a proposal was Harvest House. The editor thought the pitch/novel was good, but it was too _____ for his house. I’m kicking myself that I can’t remember exactly what word goes in the blank. Something like unusual, avant garde, experimental (but it wasn’t any of those words).
So I asked him to read the opening of the novel on which I had received some negative criticism both before the Conference and in a paid critique at the Conference. (I didn't hide this from any of the editors I pitched to; they want to know this sort of stuff. Fortunately there was lots of good stuff in the critique, too.) He said he guessed he was in the minority because the opening worked for him. I asked him would he nonetheless read the revised opening (VERY different) that I had banged out over night. He said, in effect, “You’re right; this is even better.” I guess my basic writing and/or my ability to respond to feedback made a good impression: As an afterthought, I told him I run a Christian public interest law firm that works on “culture war” issues, and I asked whether Harvest House publishes non-fiction on those issues. He said—and this is pretty close to a word-for-word quote—“I’d be glad to receive a proposal on something like that from you. Or 2 or 3 or 4.” And Harvest House is another publisher that won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, proposals, or queries.
So I’m praising the Lord. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.