Monday, March 8, 2010

A bad fairy breathed on my story...

Rats - I have written another picture book that doesn't quite hit the mark. Love the idea but when all is said and done and written up, even though the story hangs together like a proper one and I can see the illustrations and the page breaks and it has a good resolution and a cute last line it is less than the sum of its parts. Now I am not going to get upset and bent out of shape over this because of two things. 1) I'm actually rather pleased with myself and see this as progress that I know it has issues. I know both practically and intuitively that it can't go to a publisher and I know why. Now this does not mean I can fix it and then post it off. One of its issues is that it has the wrong sort of magic. All good stories have a certain magic that breaths picture book life into them. I think I got the magic breath of life for this story from the bad fairy in Sleeping Beauty. Suffice it to say i think this story is probably unfixable. And 2) I think I am building up to something better. I have now written several slightly-not-right picture books in the last few weeks and I feel like I am on a bit of a forward roll, still gathering momentum and sharpening the brain up with every effort. I feel strangely excited about what might be coming next.

Read a comment the other day from a much published local who said don't mention multiple/simultaneous submissions in a covering letter as it discourages publishers from reading your work. Just let them know if you get another offer after the fact. I blogged a while back on multiple submissions. I was in favour, as I'm not getting any younger and publishers can take a very long time to respond. Most overseas advice on this topic urges full disclosure and I was sticking with this but now I'm not so sure. I don't know if any publishers read this blog but if you do I would love to know how you feel about multiple submissions and the disclosure thereof. Anonymous comments welcome.

Loved this post at Janet Reid's blog the other day. It is truly inspirational if you are a writer. What I want to know is how the author knew to keep perservering with this novel rather than throwing his hands up in the air and moving on to something new.


Fifi Colston said...

ah that's a great link- all that rewriting and rewriting! It makes me feel less despairing about my efforts.
Multiple submissions...hmmm...yes I've done it and have the bulging file of rejections. But still got published by my usual publisher anyway, so am thinking in future i'll just go back too them in the first instance because a) I love my editor and b) I love my editor. Until they turn me down...

KarenG said...

I asked the submissions editor at my small press where I'm published. Here's her response: "Yes, telling me it's a multiple submission in the query is a turn off for me personally. And I have no good reason for that, it's just my gut reaction. However, if I like the ms, I will then ask if it has been submitted elsewhere. If the answer is yes, and I really want the ms, I'll make sure everyone pushes their review process along so we don't miss out."

Old Kitty said...


Oh thank you for that link to Stephen Parish (also to Janet Reid's very funny "read this" "now buy the book"!!!! Loved it!). I think Stephen Parish sums up the whole point about being not only the best but the utter best and beyond you can be to get your foot in the publishing door monolith! Well done him!!

And yay for you that you're going ever upwards! May you have more good magic breaths of life for what's to come next.

Take care

Stephen Parrish said...

What I want to know is how the author knew to keep persevering with this novel rather than throwing his hands up in the air and moving on to something new.

Hi Melinda. I wrestled with this question the entire time. In retrospect the answer turns out to be obvious. Blogging agents (whom I adore) tout conventional advice: if you're not getting positive feedback, if you're not getting requests for fulls and coming ever closer to a contract, abandon the project and begin another.

I have a different take. I couldn't abandon my project. I believed in it.

TK Roxborogh said...

Actually, what I mean to say is: MEH!
Can I also say 'crap'?
love and kisses and good wine and great chocolate to you........

TK Roxborogh said...

And this is the feedback I got from my wonderful agent this morning. He's right but, I say again, MEH!

"I read the first 24,000. I know you are loath to lose words J but I think the first 24 pages still need to be cut, and in general there is still too much internal monologue by Flea as to the nature of his throne, love, etc. If you are willing, I’d like to do a line edit and show you what I mean. I think it would be useful to get to Rachel’s kidnapping more quickly (and I know you tried but didn’t think it was working to start that way). I think that by making the scenes a little leaner, but without losing their impact, we can both retain the initial domestic lack-of-tranquility and get Rachel out of there. Do you mind if I give it a whirl?


My verification word is fraphin and that's what I'm doing - fraphin around.