Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coming out of the closet (not that one)


I have been, for the past couple of weeks, a basket case, a bundle of frayed nerves. A month ago, I sent my young Adult novel off to be considered for publication. I knew nothing would happen before the holidays were all gotten through. But once New Year's day had passed, I knew I could hear from them any time - could be this week, could be next month - and as each day passes I become more of a wreck.

Publishing anything anytime is a crapshoot. Your little book, that you've poured all your heart and soul into, has to run a daunting gauntlet. If it makes it past the first hurdle of the editor's personal taste, then it has to fit with their "list." Then it also has to be reviewed by marketing (and everyone knows marketing is all about publishing great literature! Screw the bottom line.), and it can fail at any of those points for any number of reasons. And just because I'm me, I have added some extra hurdles. My book is Young Adult history/fantasy hybrid. It's set in San Francisco in 1978 and is about a 14 year-old girl who runs away from home and washes up on the shores of the pre-AIDS Castro. She's taken in by a gay man. Adventures ensue. I lived and worked in the Castro, and the book is, in large part, a love letter to the innocent exuberance of that time and place, and of the men I knew. I know my book is well-written, heartfelt, funny, and exciting. And I also know that, because of the subject matter, it's going to be much, much harder to publish.

I haven't been writing about it on the blog because I thought it would be easier for me to keep it under wraps. I didn't want people asking, "have you heard yet?" And if the publisher passes on it, I thought it would be easier for me to handle if it was private. But, in case you haven't noticed, when it comes to myself, I have absolutely no sense of privacy. And the fate of my book is practically all I've been able to think about lately; it's been hard to write about anything real here, when I couldn't write about the thing that is most real to me now. Anyway, I decided to share this with you, because I have come to know many of you a bit, and you are all such thoughtful, lovely people. So I decided it would be safe.

There. it's out and I feel much better. ( I'm great at keeping other people's secrets, but I suck at keeping my own.) So wish me luck, but don't ask me if I've heard yet. I'll let you know.

27 comments:

more cowbell said...

Oh ... I thought publishers just cruised the blogosphere and picked people to publish. That isn't how it works? Crap. I'd better get working on a back up plan.

Keeping my fingers crossed, Elizabeth.

JB said...

Best of luck to you!

Elizabeth said...

CB and JB: Wouldn't it be nice.... and thanks.

sageweb said...

I've got my fingers and toes crossed for you. (just wanted to top Cowbell) That didn't sound right..you know what I mean. Best of Luck.

Miss Janey said...

Elizabeth,

Best wishes for being published!

earl said...

Good Luck. You will do well.

D-Man said...

Damn, I sure hope you get good news soon, 'cause I really, really want to read it.

I'll light a candle to the god of publishing.

Elizabeth said...

Sageweb: Top cowbell.... you're too funny. thanks for the wishes.

Miss J: You did quite a star turn on Fabulon! Brava!
thanks.

Earl: Thanks for the vote of confidence. Mine's a little shaky these days.

d-man: There's a god of publishing? Yikes, I'd better get cracking on the sacrifices. Maybe a young and tender sapling? Glad it sounds like something you'd want to read. Hope the publisher thinks others will also want to read (and buy) it!

Susan at One-Woman Show said...

Elizabeth, I hope this works out for you! And, well, if this particular publisher passes up the opportunity of a lifetime to publish you -- fools! -- we'll find agents together.

And, hey, although I'd love the company, I hope for your sake you get this deal :)

yellowdog granny said...

i would wish you luck but if the book is half as good as you discribed it...that alone will be enough...it sounds terrific and can't wait for it to be published so I can get a copy for our library..
my daughter lives in san francisco and even at 34 I bet she would read it...

Elizabeth said...

Susan: Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to trade agent-finding tips, etc. with you. Let's stay in touch.

Granny: Fingers crossed! Your daughter's lucky. I REALLY miss living in California.

Claire M. Johnson said...

Crossing fingers for you because I know what it means to wait and wait and I know what it means to get that yay! (and also, sigh, to get that nay!). Am here for you.

Elizabeth said...

Claire: Thanks dear. You're my inspiration and role model. Were you a total and utter wreck while you were waiting to hear? I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything. Meanwhile, trying to steel myself to start querying agents..... I found a cool link that shows one authors entire correspondence, from query letter to final yes, and all the crap in between. Terrifying and heartening at the same time. I'll send you the link if you like. xoxo

Claire M. Johnson said...

Well, I was rejected by 20 publishers so I HOPE I'm not a role model! Would love to get the link. You just need to keep moving forward. How long are you going to wait until you query them? I mean, you have a working relationship with this guy because of your book with Steven, right?

alto said...

You are right about what goes into a decision on book publishing. It's a completely different world than when contracts were based on merit and original talent more than anything.

The MFA course I am in the final semester of is considered, from an academic point of view, one of the "pure" creative writing schools that resists market focus etc. in their preparation of authors. Yeah, think again. The title of the seminar I attended last week? "How To Market To Publishers & Readers In Ten Easy Steps"! Gag.

Best of luck! If anything it's a great premise.

evilganome said...

This is disappointing! I thought what Cowbell thought. Another brilliant plan down the tubes.

Seriously, best of luck with getting published. The story sounds great! All digits crossed.

rodger said...

It certainly sounds like something I'd read. I grew up in the Bay Area and had come out just about that time.

Best of luck!!

Elizabeth said...

Claire: twenty rejections and you still persevered till you got a yes! How could you NOT be an inspiration and model for me? Woman, you are made of tough stuff. I haven't even gotten one No yet and I'm a dishrag! As for the publisher, I have to wait to hear from them. Bugging the editor definitely won't help.

Alto: It is a bummer that Keats's "Truth and Beauty" aren't the only things that matter, but (sigh) that's the reality for now. I got my MFA from Columbia, and I loved the sense of community, shared sense of priorities, and honest criticism I found there. It doesn't make us writers, but it is a great base to build on. Thanks for stopping by.

Elizabeth said...

evilGanome: Yeah, don't you just wish publishers and agents were just trolling the net hoping to find talent? Totally sucks that we have to work at being found! But thanks for the good wishes.

Roger: What a great time and place to come out! It was a world of such exuberant, fizzy, freedom. And if the book comes out, I'll hold you to reading it! Thanks for coming by.

Jef said...

Sounds like an interesting read.

Best of luck with it!

Elizabeth said...

Glad you think it sounds interesting. thanks for stopping by.

jason said...

I'm still wishing you luck down here!
Any word?

But from my experience, it's brutal out there (the rejection letters...some quite nice...are in a shoe box somewhere I think)

Elizabeth said...

Jason: They say Truman Capote never got a rejection letter. But, other than him, most of the writers I know - and i know some very successful ones - have their share of rejection letters. I have some really nice ones too, from the New Yorker, which I guess is better than mean ones.... but still, it sucks doesn't it. What were/are you writing?

D-Man said...

(Capote lied...)

Elizabeth said...

d-man: you're probably right. After all, he did write fiction.....

mumbliss said...

E-beth,
Welcome out. You are wonderful. I have complete faith in you. Just keep going, no matter what the initial obstacles may be. Forge the blade. Have some ice cream and walk back into the fire. You are strong and amazing, and all of us are behind you. AND I want to read the story too. XXXOOO

Elizabeth said...

Mumbliss: "Forge the blade. Have some ice cream..."
Now THAT is serious girl power advice and I love it (and you). Think I'll go have some ice cream right now....