After a long period of newsletter inaction, your not-so-faithful scribe is back in the business of the written word.
The drought was precipitated (that seems like a paradox; I actually saw a pair o’ docks where the water line was quite low) by a lengthy, exasperating effort to find an email management service that I, a technology averse writer, could both navigate and afford, what with the hefty growth of my subscriber list. Besides that, I’ve been immersed in two principal activities:
- Searching for a publisher for my new novel, which bears the working title BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS.
- Conducting research for a future book: a roman a clef, or work of faction, as some wit not long ago dubbed a book based on real events and/or persons. Haven’t picked a title yet, but it’ll be based on the life of a woman who was labeled “wicked Wanda.” (I seem to be a magnet for sinful folks; my current book, MURDER IN PALM BEACH: The Homicide That Never Died, depicts a real-life dude with a rap sheet longer than a kid’s Christmas wish list.)
The process of finding a publisher these days is arduous. These book formulators receive so many submissions that they have but a few seconds to check a cover letter, which has to immediately grab them enough that they’ll keep reading.
Why so many people writing books? Amazon. The massive online retailer, which began by selling books and put a lot of stores out of business, made it possible for anyone to get a book into the marketplace by self-publishing and dropping it onto the book purveyor’s site. I read that 70 percent of the books published today are self-published. Last I checked, a few months ago, Amazon’s book cache consisted of 40 million print titles and 10.5 to 10.8 million eBooks.
Many of those were first offered to traditional publishers. So an author is faced with an enormous amount of competition, with publishers selecting for publication only a small percentage of tendered manuscripts.
Which brings me to BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS. Months ago, I received a contract offer from a publisher based in Finland, with satellite offices in other parts of the world, including India. The difficulties in working with an entity so distant, along with a couple of other factors, dissuaded me from accepting the offer.
Then, in the last month or so, two other publishers offered contracts, one of them contingent on my willingness to make suggested manuscript changes. I thought the suggestions were sound, and followed them as best I could. The editor indicated she would get back to me as soon as possible. That has me on pins and needles, because I want to compare the terms of the two publishers, but can’t delay for too long the one who already sent a contract. I’m not at all certain the changes I made were sufficient, and might not have a choice. But I need to know.
The offer from the publisher asking for changes made me realize that I jumped the gun in previous submissions. Though I followed the advice of almost all writing experts and had MURDER IN PALM BEACH professionally edited, I was so confident of BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS that I skipped that step to save money. I realize now that, to paraphrase the title of a very defunct TV show, Editor Knows Best.
With that, I’ll stop, before I date myself any further (though it might not make any difference, since I’m finding no women to date).