Small Lives, Literary Aspirations.

Duck QuoteIrony–I love it. It’s right up there with self-deprecating humor. O’Connor wrote Good Country People–she knew something about writing and farm life. Maybe she was being literal in this quote but I think I’ll stick with ironic.

I’ve been pondering the concept of Purgatory. At this date, my submissions have been launched for a month but it’s still early to hear back. I’ve been warned that each publisher will take up to 3 months or more to respond. Unless they aren’t interested, then there will be silence. Apparently the submission process uses the if you can’t say anything nice... rule.

Each publisher asked for a slightly different version of the required information, in a slightly different order, for their submission. There’s a synopsis, my bio, annotated chapters, a market comparison and then the first two chapters of the book. The hardest to write was the synopsis. It’s challenging enough to have written 80,000 words or so in the first place, but then that got cut down to a descriptive 500 words that includes the ending. Each word must speak volumes to the reader. A writer-friend says it’s impossible to write well in in the frame of a synopsis. Still, it’s kind of a pass/fail test, but no pressure…

The strangest document is the market comparison page. That’s where you compare your book to other similar books published, arguing that yours is totally unique in its genre, or a story no one else could possibly tell any better, or that it’s likely to make the publisher rich for some other plausible reason. It requires solid confidence balanced with humility–particularly challenging if it’s a first book. Comparing yourself to an author you love can feel like hubris but then if you aren’t willing to stand up for your own writing, why should they? I think this page is actually an indicator of other traits required in an author.

Some folks use a method of comparing two known books/movies/artists to describe a third new arrival. Catchy comparisons like it’s Shakespeare meets Bessie Smith–which sounds great to me.  The one I used to describe Stable Relation was it’s Jeanette Walls meets James Herriot. It was the sentence that took the most bravado to write.

Finally, and I saved the best for last, I got a nibble from a publisher this week. I don’t want to jinx it, but there is someone in NYC who’s reading the full manuscript. I wonder if they’ve gotten to the chapter about the ducks yet?

Thanks everyone, for the kind thoughts, and keeping me company while I wait.


  1. Your catchy comparison (Jeanette Walls meets James Herriot.) is excellent! Having read and loved both, that certainly would grab me! Since I’m not a publisher I’ll just have to consider it a teaser! Can’t wait!


  2. I will believe in the success of your book. I have to because I want it in my hands. And in my heart. I’m ready to preorder a stack to share with my most special of friends.


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