Cat’s Eyes: Full Manuscript Requested

I used an email address for the submission of Cat’s Eyes that I rarely receive or send anything from. Moments ago, I realised I hadn’t checked it for several days. Imagine my surprise when I heard the tell-tale “ding” that announces new mail has been received. Immediately recognising the publisher’s email address, I held my breath and prepared myself for a rejection.

So it was an even bigger surprise when I read the email and discovered the publisher liked the synopsis of my story and liked the sample of my writing, and was requesting the full manuscript.

I realise this isn’t an acceptance and the manuscript could still be rejected, but this request has lifted my spirits. I now have a purpose! I now have a reason to sit at the computer and work diligently. I’ve been given hope and that is something I needed.

My plans for the weekend have suddenly changed. I won’t be working on Mirror Image as previously stated, I’ll be ensuring Cat’s Eyes is perfect before I send it off next week.

If there was a mood reader on this blog, it would be saying “happy and excited” right now.

Cat’s Eyes: Submitted!

Some weeks ago I mentioned that I want to submit Cat’s Eyes for consideration. The manuscript has been completed for some time, but I haven’t done anything with it since entering it into a competition last year. Anyway, once the decision was made to submit it I set about, and spent over a week, writing a one page query letter. As I wasn’t entirely happy with what I had I did some research to ensure I was including all the right things for such an important letter (which I was). Finally…I pushed the letter aside as I still felt something wasn’t quite right.

Yesterday I mentioned in an email to a friend that I needed to get onto this submission. I questioned my reasons for not sending it out already. No reason really came to mind, except self doubt and that’s not a good reason to hold back a submission. Actually, the thought angered me so last night I opened that query letter and looked at it again. It has all the elements of a good query letter. I know that for sure, however, I still had to do some more research. In the end, I had to concede that I’ve done the best I can with it and now I have to take a chance.

Once this decision was made, I turned my research to publishers instead. Who do I want to submit to? My first choices are the big names – Scholastic, HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin and Allen & Unwin. I visited each website and found their submission guidelines. Two are not taking submissions of any kind at this time. Two would accept full manuscripts for children’s manuscripts, but only queries for adult manuscripts (luckily, my manuscript is for children). One would only accept an email query from unpublished writers, promising a response within two week. This is the one I targeted.

The guidelines were clear, so I adjusted my letter accordingly. They also only wanted the first 250 words of the manuscript, as a sample of my writing. This once again reiterates the need for strong openings, which I’m a believer in, so that shouldn’t be a worry. I read through that one and a half pages … oh, three dozen times, at least. Still not confident enough to send the email, I sent it to myself first as I wanted to see how it would be received. Seeing the email made me feel better. It looked professional and there were no errors, but there was a problem. There was an attachment! I didn’t include an attachment and the guidelines clearly stated that emails with attachments would not be read. I fiddled with settings, which made no difference. Then I copied and pasted the contents of the letter into a fresh page and emailed it to myself again. No attachment. Yay. I emailed it again to be sure. OK, we’re in business and now it’s time to send the real email.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to press “send” when the email is this important? My cursor hovered over the button for several minutes; I kept wanting to read the entire thing one more time (just to be sure). Finally, I had to force myself to click on the button and trust in myself. The email – the submission – has been sent. I have done the best I can, with the manuscript and the letter. Now I must wait and see if that is enough.

Cat’s Eyes: Getting Ready to Submit

Cat’s Eyes is the first book in a fantasy series for children aged 8 to 12 years. It has been 100% completed for some time now. However, something niggled at me about its length. At 30,000 words, I felt it was too short and this made me hold back from submitting it.

A few days ago I decided to ask a published author about this. I emailed Pamela Freeman, Australian author for children who has now also published the first two books in an adult trilogy. I briefly explained my concern and asked her advice. She was quick to get back to me and reassure me that the manuscript is the perfect length for the age group and that her own manuscripts varied between 22,000 and 35,000 words. This shouldn’t have surprised me because I did do my research and plan the stories so that they would be the desired length, but I guess with thick books like Harry Potter on the shelves I lost confidence in my own research. This will not happen again.

Anyway, this quick email exchange has taken all my concerns away and I now plan on writing the query letter and synopsis so that I can get it in the post. Since I don’t have an agent I’ve decided to take the “query approach” and send the covering letter, the synopsis and a sample of my writing. I will have no more than five queries out at any one time.

This is an unexpected turn of events that I hadn’t planned on…and it’s exciting. I will use part of my writing time over the weekend to get the “package” ready.

Note: I’ve added a link to Query Shark to the sidebar. There are some good tips to be found on the site.

Macmillan New Writing

Macmillan New Writing is a part of Pan Macmillan Publishers, a mainstream publisher. If you read the page I’ve linked to, you’ll discover that they now accept unsolicitored manuscripts. The contract will be different to what an agent would be able to negotiate for you, but I feel this is a way for an unpublished author to seriously get their work recognised.

If you are interested in submitting a manuscript to them, I strongly advise that you read the website carefully and find out more about the program beforehand.

They only accept adult fiction, so at present none of my manuscripts fit the guidelines…but that won’t always be the case.

My Writing Decision

After much thought I’ve made my decision as to which manuscript will get my attention first.

If you look at the list, you might think it would be fitting to finish the Cat’s Series as two books are already completed, leaving only the third book to be written. This would seem like the natural course to take, but I’ve decided against it as the second and third book cannot be published without the first book being successful (the first book is written as a stand alone, whereas the other two books are definite sequels and must be read in order). Due to this I feel it would be better time management to put my efforts into submitting Cat’s Eyes (book 1) to publishers instead, which is what I will do. I will keep you updated on my progress.

The Kingdom of Marlinor trilogy is a favourite of mine. In the past I’ve rushed the planning and have been sorry afterwards. This time, I intend to do it properly. All three books! Completely! As I mentioned in a previous post, I have already started researching important issues for the trilogy and this will continue until I am satisfied with the information I have. I will then use the Snowflake method to produce a proper plan.

Planning isn’t actually writing though and I feel I should be getting words on paper (or on the computer screen) while I feel in the mood because who knows when the mood will disappear?!? With this in mind, I’ve decided to plan one story and write another.

The manuscript that has been given the number one slot is Mirror Image. With only approximately 10,000 words to write, I feel this isn’t a huge hurdle to face at this early stage and, besides, I want to see the first draft finished, so this is the story I’ll revisit. Upon its completion, I will decide what to do next.

However, I’ve said only one manuscript is the “winner”, but in actual fact three manuscripts are winners. Cat’s Eyes will gain my serious attention for submitting. That has to be a good move. Kingdom of Marlinor will finally be planned the way it should have been years ago. That’s definitely a positive step. And the first draft of Mirror Image will finally be finished. It will feel great to cross it off my “unfinished projects” list.