Writing on Wednesday: WAITING (Two Projects)

b5def9ac4d3659c63de4432a324423e6I’m WAITING… to hear back from a literary agent who is reading my third major revision of Cherry Bomb, a novel. At this stage of the work there are busy times and then these lulls. I can see it could go on like this for months. So, like most writers, I keep writing something in the meantime. I could get back to work on the next novel (I penned a first chapter just over a year ago) or find writing contests or anthologies calling for manuscripts and submit a new essay. I love essays and am always on the lookout for a good home for my musings. But right now I’ve got another project brewing.

norton-anthologyAbout six months ago I decided to try and publish an anthology. I love anthologies. Having had essays published in three collections since 2012, I decided that this time I would wear the editor’s hat. After getting input from a few experienced anthology editors and a writing buddy who was the inspiration for this collection, I put together a thirteen-page nonfiction book proposal. The elements of the proposal are:

Title Page

Introduction (2 pages—kind of a history of the book’s conception and an annotated synopsis)

About the Editor (Bio. Why I’m the right person to edit this collection.)


Social Media/Web Presence

Marketing (connections at bookstores)

Endorsements (published authors who have agreed to blurb the book)

Comparative Titles (“Readers of blah-blah-blah would like this book because….”)

*Potential Authors (One-paragraph bios of 25 women I plan to invite to contribute essays to the book. Top 5 are well-known published authors. Next 15 are lesser known but have published books. “Bottom” 5 are excellent writers who have something to say that fits the theme of the collection, although they aren’t yet published.)

*Note: A few of these authors probably won’t accept the invitation. I’d like to end up with 18-20 essays for the book, so I’m casting a wide net.

gypsy-rose-lee-1941-women-at-typewriterIn February I queried an academic press where I know the Editor personally. He was interested. We exchanged emails and phone calls for five months. After his editorial board reviewed the proposal, they decided it wasn’t a good fit for their press. Five months of waiting. Yes.

In July I decided to send out several queries at once—to another academic press and three independent publishers. I’ve heard back from three of them already: two rejections and one that shows promise but presents a problem. Here’s an excerpt from their reply:


Dear Susan,

Thank you for your query. This seems like an ambitious project. Unfortunately, the marketability of such a project will depend heavily on the name recognition of the contributors. You have some well-known potential contributors here, but I also know that many of them may not have the time for such a project. At this point, we don’t feel comfortable contracting for this book until you have commitments from at least 3 or 4 of the recognizable names you list below—and it would have to include some well-known names or it would be difficult to market this book. Other publishers may feel differently about making a commitment, but should you proceed and get some commitments from those better-known authors, we would be happy to take a second look at a more complete proposal at a later date.

So there’s the rub. It’s difficult to get commitments from well-known authors for an anthology that doesn’t yet have a publisher. One of the two presses who rejected my query said they would only accept a full manuscript. Again, why would 20+ published authors send me essays for a book that doesn’t have a publisher?

I haven’t heard back from the fourth press I queried. One press suggested other places that might be a better fit for the collection, which was nice of them to take time to do.

great-with-child-book-beth-ann-fennellySo, while I’m in Denver WAITING for the birth of our fourth grandchild, I’m also WAITING to hear back from a literary agent and a small press for these two writing projects. I’ll be home in two weeks and will refocus my efforts.

Meanwhile I’m having a great time with my kids and grandkids and getting so excited about #4! My daughter is great with child, as her due date was August 5. I’m remembering the wonderful book I gave her (when she was pregnant with her first child) by my friend Beth Ann Fennelly, Great With Child, as I keep waiting today. Stay tuned for baby news!