Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Free For All: Guest Blogger Gae Polisner's Anatomy of a Book Deal

Anatomy of a book deal.

For nearly ten years, I have been trying to get a book deal. Ten years, if you count the years trying to get an agent, which is almost a necessity if you want to get a decent deal. The agent came a year and a half ago. I have three manuscripts she’s been shopping.

During those pre-agent (and post-agent) years, I received a fair amount of praise for my writing, if not always for my ability to weave a commercial enough or “formulaic” story. But, the bottom line is that endless rejection, even smattered with praise, is difficult to push through for so long.

So, last May, when my YA mss landed in the hands of a legendary YA editor who read and “loved” it, the hope that I so often fought to pummel down, rose to the surface of my psyche. And when she sent me a private email quoting from the book and telling me to “sit tight,” it sprouted wings and poised itself to fly.

So you can imagine how crushing it was when three weeks later, she came back with a note explaining that while a second editor had also loved it, a third editor had not, and that, without his approval, the publisher would not put the money behind she believed the manuscript deserved. With a sentence that started, “In another economy…” and contained the word “heartbroken,” she passed on the book.

Summer came and I fought to regroup. I embarked on massive revisions with the understanding that, in September, my agent would send the manuscript out “wide.”

And then my agent received the following note from the editor: “Usually, when I pass on a mss that is it for me. But, I can’t stop thinking about Gae’s manuscript.” She asked for another brief exclusive in September, and hope took wing once again.

In July and August, I revised for over 100 hours, trying to take into consideration all of the concerns of the “unadoring” editor, while preserving the parts of the book she loved. As well as addressing the other concerns and suggestions of my agent. On September 15 we sent it out to her. We gave her a two week exclusive.

On October 1, the last day of the exclusive, having heard nothing and beginning to despair, I found the following note from my agent in my email. It was only a subject line, there was nothing else at all in the email: “ Frances has made an offer. Call me.”

Ten years is a long road. And (almost) totally worth it to read those seven little words.

Gae H. Polisner is a writer of women's and young adult fiction. She is excited to announce that her young adult novel, Steinbeck, The Scoot and the Pull of Gravity has just been signed by a major New York publisher. Her novel, The Jetty (women's fiction), was a Top 100 Semifinalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Her third novel, Swim Back to Me (women's fiction), is also making the rounds to publishers. She is represented by Michelle Humphrey of Sterling Lord Literistic in NYC.

Don't forget to join her fan page :)
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