Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Cuts

This week, I was told my manuscript has made it past a publishing house’s editorial board and now sits with the publisher and marketing folks, who will decide its fate.

I am pleased by the acquiring editor's enthusiasm but also leery. The novel features a PI with esophageal cancer who is hired to look for a missing teenage boy. Hollywood isn’t exactly groping for cancer novels, and this novel, compared to my previous work, is admittedly dark. (After all, can a cancer book be uplifting?)

But moreover, I’ve been here before. A month ago, an editor told me his publisher was meeting with the marketing department, and that they were “just waiting for the official go-ahead.” That book features a female sleuth and has much more—I think—commercial potential. So I, too, figured it was formality. Of course, it wasn’t. A recent mystery series (by an author I really enjoy, in fact) has not sold well, and the press has decided to buy fewer mysteries.

All of this leads me back to why I do it. I write because I enjoy the process. Not for Hollywood. Not for commercial publishers. Certainly not for money. (Although, as Stephen King writes in “On Writing,” If you think you can ever be too skinny or too rich, you were never really fat or really poor.) I write because I like to be the first reader, to see where the book goes, and to see where I end up. And I like trying to write well.

So I’m glad to have once again made the first cut, and my fingers and toes are crossed. But now I go back to controlling what I can—writing the next book.

2 comments:

Hannah Dennison said...

John - I have fingers and toes and everything else crossed for you. GOOD LUCK!!

Rick Blechta said...

Ditto!