A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Publisher

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(Part 1 – How I Ended up Publishing Independently)

I didn’t intend to get all indie with this book, or maybe I did in the beginning, but when editors start nosing around one feels hopeful and when agents get involved it’s easy to dream of the big leagues. Who doesn’t want a posh NY Agent with international connections?

When I got one, I thought it was time to kick back and let her take over. Oh I wrote the proposal she asked for (with gritted teeth, mind you) but once I handed over the proposal, I ceased to be an active participant in the process.

It was up to her now.

My agent was not particularly communicative but she had 30+ years in the industry so I trusted her process. She was distant and I was intimidated. Not exactly the proper balance in a working relationship.

While I was waiting to hear back about all the editors who were clamoring to get at my book, my writerly friend Bradley Richter convinced me to help him turn the book into a screenplay. He’d recently completed my pre-shopping edits, so he was as familiar with the book (and my inability to grasp simple punctuation rules) as I was.

For months, we worked on the script and she shopped the book. Or so I thought. As it turned out, the proposal sat in her inbox untouched for six months. When I finally reached her, desperate for ANY news,  she apologized profusely and immediately sent the proposal out to 18 editors.

There was a brief flurry of activity; requests for further materials, bits of feedback and critique, but eventually it died down. 8 of the 10 editors had responded and we continued to wait for the other ten. Or I continued to wait because it didn’t occur to me that editors ignore agents the same way they ignore writers.

Those responses were never coming.

Two months after sending out the proposal and more than a year after signing with my agent, I sent her a message asking how we should proceed. Her reply was “I’m afraid I don’t have any ideas but if you do, please let me know.”

That’s when it struck me that I had handed over the caretaking of my book to someone who either didn’t actually care or didn’t know what the hell she was doing.

We parted ways and rather than feel defeated, I was energized. MY book was on MY desk and it was once again MY job to champion it. The truth of the matter is that the inaction of my agent gave me enough distance to see the book from outside myself as well as time to work with Bradley on the script and extensive revisions.

It’s a better book.

Of that, I am sure.

Which reminds me … you can buy it today.

Seriously.

Right Here.

Why are you still reading?

Go buy the book!

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One Response to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Publisher

  1. Jillian Bakke says:

    I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across your web site, but I have been avidly reading the pieces about Alice for 2 or 3 years and eagerly waiting for the book. The book came yesterday from Amazon and I finished it about 30 minutes ago. You have written a beautiful memorial to your daughter. What a moving, lovely book.

    Jilian

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