Monday, February 16, 2009

Author in a hurry

I started taking my writing seriously in April ’08 after years of ‘dabbling’. To my utter joy and disbelief, the first manuscript I sent off was accepted. I am primarily a children’s author with a passion for picture books and have just signed two contracts with an overseas publisher. I am also awaiting a contract from a niche market Australian publisher which should arrive any day soon. I am actively submitting picture book manuscripts high and low and make sure I include my successes in my cover letter. I also include names of some of the magazines I’ve been published in recently.

My question is, how much does that count when a publisher receives my latest manuscript? I understand that a good manuscript will sell itself – and I’m only as good as my current submission – but do they look more closely because I’m beginning to establish myself in the market? Or am I just another ‘wanna-be’ in the slush pile?

Also, I have discovered one nasty little down side to my publishing success: I am no longer eligible to enter many of the competitions around the place. So now I feel like I’m in limbo. I’m not published enough to avoid going through the unsolicited submissions pile, but I’m too published to enter competitions where I could get my ‘big break’. I haven’t ‘made it’ by any stretch of the imagination. Any suggestions on where to from here? Just keep doing what I’m doing and do it well?? Try and build my freelance profile? Try and nab one of those will-o-wisps a.k.a. literary agents??

A handful of things about your email trouble me.

First, you have signed two contracts with overseas publishers and about to sign one with a small Australian publisher, yet you also say you haven't had your 'big break'. Um ... is getting published not the big break?

Second, you obviously have one (or two) overseas publishers and one Australian publisher and you're sending off what sounds like a lot of submissions to other publishers. Why? Why aren't you trying to consolidate your relationships with your existing publishers?

Third: you have three publishing contracts and yet you're bemoaning the fact you can't enter competitions any more. Well, uh, yeah ... they're usually for unpublished authors.

So I think there's information I'm missing here, and I have a suspicion that what you're not saying is that the 'overseas publishers' are some kind of co-publisher, which means you're putting up some of the money; or, if not that, then they're no-advance publishers, of the sort who usually have a not-so-hot contract. (If you'd like to email me again and give me some more information about your publishers, I'll try to answer this question more comprehensively.)

If this isn't the case, then you're just really, really in a hurry to get published by as many publishers possible, in as short a time as possible, and I have to tell ya, honey: that's a bad career strategy.

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