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Stuck In the Middle

I thought it was probably time to do a bit of an update on my trilogy, and how it’s all going.

I would love to report that I have found an agent, and he/she has found me a publisher, and that the publication date is in a couple months. But alas, that particular goal is proving elusive.

So, here is what is going on in my writing life as I pursue publication.

Agent/Publisher search – since October 2014 I have submitted my MS to 6 agents/publishers. I realize that this is not a lot, and one of my goals is to up my submitting rate. I wanted to start slowly, to see if I got some feedback on my query and hopefully tweak things a bit to improve it. However the only feedback I have got was of the “enjoyed the book but it’s not quite right for us” or the polite, “no thanks” form letter. Or, nothing, which translates to a “no”.  I am preparing my query to send out to two more agents this week.

The whole query process is challenging, and I have written about it before.  The problem is that most agents or publishers don’t actually want to see your book unless they are intrigued by your query letter. Sometimes you get to send in your first three chapters but often it’s just the query letter they go by. So it means you have to craft a letter that contains an exciting, short synopsis (really, a couple of paragraphs) that will make an agent want to read the book. It’s quite daunting. You might have the best book ever, but if you suck at writing a query letter, no one will see it.

Finding an agent to query is another difficulty. There are thousands upon thousands of agents out there – well, kinda. I found out last summer that there are only eight literary agents in Canada. Eight. And although one of them actually requested to see my query after my pitch to her at conference last summer, I never heard back, which means “no”.

I can submit to publishers directly. There are lots of small publishers out there, who don’t necessarily need an agent’s recommendation. And often these smaller publishers are willing to take a chance on a book that is perhaps outside the mainstream in terms of content, genre or style. Likely I will have more chance with my book at one of these publishing houses, mainly because historical fantasy is a pretty small market, and because it also deals with religious/Christian/spiritual themes the market becomes smaller still.

So the pool of agents/publishers, while seemingly so vast when you start to look, often becomes much, much smaller once you start to do the research on what agents are actually looking for. Right now it seems like “diversity” is a buzz word, both in terms of authors and subject matter, and fantasy set in non-medieval settings, or fantasy set in international locales, or based on mythology from non-Western civilizations, etc etc etc. None of which you can apply to my book. It gets discouraging, but all you can do is to keep on plugging away at searching out places to submit and throwing your stuff out there.

Revision update – I am in the process of revising my Book 2, the middle book of my trilogy. Book 1 I have called Wilding, Book 2 I am tentatively calling Bound. The revision is going slower than I would like. Mainly because I have decided to tackle one of the problems that I see with the book, and that is the absence of Nona, my main female character.  Because I wrote the whole thing as one book and later divided it into three, this middle section of the book takes place away from Bebbanburg and Lindisfarne for the most part, and the action doesn’t involve her. Which is a bit of a problem for a middle section of a book, but a bigger problem for an entire book! Part of the problem with Nona’s character is that I dearly wanted to write some scenes from her POV in the book, but as I was writing the original draft of the book-that-became-three I realized I already had quite a few different POVs and it was getting long already, so I decided I couldn’t add yet more scenes.

So….I am figuring out a way to get her more involved in Book 2. Which means I have to rewrite a few things from Book 1, which is ok, as those needed fixing anyway. I think I’m done doing the “backwards” fixing now, but the challenge still remains as to how to involve her more in the book going forward. I’m a bit stumped, to be honest, and I need some concentrated time to just brainstorm and fiddle for a bit to get back in the flow. It’s hard to do this – I have to go back and reread large chunks to make sure what I have added now fits properly, and then I have to take those new scenes and make the new information they suggest now work in Book 2. It’s like you have a big jigsaw puzzle that has been all put together and now you have some new pieces that you have to put in and still make it a seamless whole.

I will likely have to change other parts of Book 2 to make this all work, which is ok, nothing is set in stone at this point, although I do have to make sure I still keep the train moving on the right track to get to the destination point I’m aiming for in Book 3.

Middles are hard, whether they are the middle of a book, or the middle book of a trilogy. You have to keep the momentum going, and not start slogging around in side trails. Which I suppose you could apply to your own story of your life, as well!

Full steam ahead – my plan is to keep submitting to agents until around summer time, and then if I haven’t got any luck, start the process of self-publishing, with an aim to having my book up on Amazon sometime around Christmas.

I’m still tentatively on that timeline, although I will admit my submissions to agents has gone a lot slower than I hoped. I want to see if I can submit to at least 20 agents, so I’ve got quite a ways to go.

It’s all very interesting, though, and although I progress only in fits and starts, I enjoy the process. Nothing happens if you don’t keep going, so I’ll continue to walk down this road as far as I can and then decide what to do next if I hit a dead end. As the Albert Einstein quote at the top says, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Onward and upward!

Featured image from The Quotepedia






  1. Wow! You really have to be committed to go through all of this!I really admire your dedication and you have me cheering you along all the way. I have absolutely no doubt that your story is worthy of publication.

    1. L.A. Smith says:

      Thanks sis! Mainly it’s fun and I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m enjoying the challenge of it all, for sure!

  2. Glenn Keeler says:

    Lisa, have you investigated It is sort of Kickstarter for publishing. You are much further along in your writing than inkshares starting point, but I still think it could help you get to publishing with the support of your blog/twitter/facebook crowd.

    1. L.A. Smith says:

      No, I haven’t heard of it! Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out!

  3. So very cool! I know you have a lot of work ahead, but very cool on the publishing doubledown of agent and publisher.

  4. sdorman2014 says:

    this is so interesting! (i noticed David Russell Mosley has a faërie romance coming out with Wipf & Stock. you might try them without an agent.)

    1. L.A. Smith says:

      Ok, will add them to the list, thanks!!

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