I never concretely imagined what happened after submitting a manuscript to a publisher, but it turns out that the vague idea I had was completely wrong anyway. Firstly, with my long book, I had that dream email where an editor at a publishing house said she loved my book. BUT I still don’t have a contract on that manuscript and have had to submit it more widely as I have had a couple of rejections and lots of long, silent waits of many months. The problem I struck with that first publisher was that the editor didn’t like my pitches for a second or third book, making me, a debut author, too big a risk. I still haven’t had a final no, but it doesn’t feel good so perhaps it’s not the right home for the manuscript and I definitely need more time to work out what kind of author brand I would have, if I had one.
Secondly, even with Mills and Boon, who have a remarkably transparent submissions system, it turns out there are a lot of outcomes OTHER than decline or accept. From what I have seen on forums and contacting other aspiring M&B authors, the most common result that’s not a decline, is a ‘revision letter’. M&B editors coddle their lines carefully because they are co-branded. It’s not just the author they’re selling, it’s their own product and they want to determine what a reader can expect when they pick up a book with one of their covers. That means anyone on the outside, i.e. a new author, rarely hits exactly the right note without editorial guidance, hence the revision letter.
The wonderful news is that AN EDITOR LOVED MY BOOK from the M&B Modern Blitz! The terrifying news is that I received a three-page revision letter with LOTS and LOTS to process. Anyone who has been reading this blog a while may realise that if I’m blogging about it, that means I’m already okay with all this and nearly finished. That’s the case this time, too. I have a draft with the changes worked through it, although I still need to comb it again, add a few bits and remove another few. I even received a deadline this time, so I hope that means my book is closing in on the big time.
Receiving emails from publishers is a visceral experience. The first email I got from M&B mercifully had ‘Manuscript Request’ in the subject line – THANK YOU IT people for making it so. This one just had the MS title and the first paragraph was all positive, but I already knew it wasn’t a simple ‘yes’. Then came the ‘however’. There is so often a ‘however’ and it HURTS. I was amazed this time, though, how quickly I got over the prick of the however and got on with making this book sparkle even more than it already did. I’m certain the main reason this was possible was because the darling editor set out exactly what she thought made it special. She talked about what she liked and she even made comments that suggested she thought I would sort out these revisions brilliantly because she just thinks I’m good LOL. This is my animal brain’s interpretation of her feedback.
Boy, her feedback made my day. And I can’t help posting a few snippets for posterity:
“We absolutely see a lot of potential in your voice and the emotion you inject into your prose. Your dialogue is full of dry wit and the kind of flirtatious banter that makes us feel we are there cheering from the sidelines. Your characters are complex, considered and above all, real. You clearly know how to build tension, devise relatable emotional arcs and leave us hanging with dramatic cliffhangers. This shows a lot of skill Leonie!”
“Your dialogue is fantastic, your characters are sexy and emotional, and most importantly of all, you draw us in and make us feel that we are there, struggling and then falling in love alongside your hero and heroine.”
Still getting a full-body squee. I don’t know if that’s a real word, but it’s the only one that feels appropriate.