My Journey To Publication: Part Three

When we last saw Anne, it was 2009 and she was represented by an agent! YESSS! She’d been through miles and miles of edits with her first novel, which still bore the working title THE CLEARING. It is now Spring of 2009 and THE CLEARING is about to go on submission.

Which means Anne is about to vomit.

*          *          *

Alanna’s list of editors? WAS RIDICULOUS. These people worked for publishing houses known all over the world: HarperCollins. Penguin. Simon & Schuster. It was completely insane. My mind reeled, wondering if this could really be happening. Did I actually have a chance? Would these editors even want to read my work?

Yes, they would. All of them. Which isn’t as big a deal as it seems; usually, editors want to take a look at something they’re pitched. But still! EDITORS! READING MY BOOK! Liam and Natalie’s story was going places! It was out there! People who knew what they were doing, who read hundreds of books a year and pulled the strings of the publishing world like some sort of puppetmasters – they were reading The Clearing!

My mind was officially blown.

I shook like a leaf for the next month or so, but the trembling in my hands evened out a little with each email from my agent.

“Heard from editors X, Y, and Z. They liked it, but they’ve passed.”

“Great comments from editors A, B, C, and D, but they’ve passed. Don’t give up hope!”

After a couple months, our first round list was exhausted. Alanna was encouraging, though; we still had LOTS of editors to pitch. So she drew up a second round list and sent it my way. This list made my palms go almost as clammy as the first one, although I was able to stay marginally steadier as The Clearing ventured into the world for a second time.

But again, a couple months later, all our second round picks had passed. And it was time for a revised gameplan.

So, after a conference call in which Alanna and I both performed hakas to get ourselves psyched up, much like this:

…only, you know, we were wearing heels and tossed our hair around a little more…

…we made a list of edits for The Clearing. This wasn’t just any old list of edits; it came from the suggestions we got from all the editors who had rejected it. So these edits? They were awesome. They were founded on industry suggestions, and I knew they would take the story to a whole new level.

I worked through the fall. And I mean, worked. Full-time as a high school teacher and full-time on nights and weekends, improving Natalie and Liam’s story.

Sometime around Thanksgiving, I sent my uber-revised version of The Clearing to Alanna for her approval. She LOVED it and agreed with me that A) we had addressed the editors’ concerns and B) the story was much fuller now, much more fleshed out.

She drew up a third list of editors to pitch. This one consisted of many editors we hadn’t approached yet, but there were also several who’d already seen the book but wanted to take a look at the revised version. We sent it out just after Christmas holidays.

And we waited.

Sometime in February, she sent me the news: An associate editor at a HUGE publishing house had emailed saying she loved the book! LOVED IT! And wanted to sign me!

And I felt like AWESOMESAUCE.

In fact, ALL of the associate editors had read The Clearing and agreed: They wanted me! But they had to give it to the senior editor, who was out of town. And they couldn’t do anything without her approval. So we had to wait a couple weeks.

LONGEST WEEKS OF MY LIFE.

After what felt like six years, the senior editor got back into town. She read the book. She liked it.

But she passed.

And then I felt like poop on a stick.

Next time in the Continuing Saga of Anne’s Journey to Publication: How and why I decided to self-publish The Clearing, and where we go from here!

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7 thoughts on “My Journey To Publication: Part Three

  1. Heather McCorkle says:

    You poor thing. It is so incredibly hard to get so close and still have them pass. You have an amazing agent who was willing to work with you on edits and resubmit you, that’s golden. They aren’t all willing to do that, I know first hand.

    Your story has been a huge eye-opener for me. After reading THE CLEARING~and loving it~I realized that publishers pass up really good books sometimes and they don’t always make the right choices. You convinced me that there is still a place for those good books. You’re kind of my hero.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Aw, thank you Heather! Yes, I think the stigma of self-publishing is sort of on its way out. If you think about it, there are a lot of traditionally pubbed books that are no good!

  2. Melissa Garrett says:

    The more I read these posts of yours, Anne, the more I’m convinced I made the right decision to self-pub. I have no doubt I’m good enough to go the traditional route, just as I know you are, but why go through the heartache of rejection time and time again? When I was shopping for an agent I heard a lot of, “I *love* this story, I *love* these characters . . . but I’ll pass.” I refuse to squirrel away my stories just because they don’t get the ultimate OK from the higher-ups. I really am glad you self-pubbed THE CLEARING and didn’t shelve it forever, and I know a lot of others are, too. 😀

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