It took me three months to shake up the manuscript. Remember I hadn’t touched it for five years and the world had changed. If you’re catching up with my story please have a look at these two earlier posts: here and here.
I was surprised how quickly the writing bug came back. I hadn’t written much on anything non-business during my writing hiatus. I quickly settled into a groove and found modifying the story and characters relatively painless. My struggles with the craft continued. Of course it would until I developed a healthy routine of regular writing and studying of the craft.
The new completed manuscript was reduced to 450 pages and 155,000 words. I had managed to reduce the volume by almost 25% from the previous draft.
I sent the manuscript off to one, and only one, publisher. I had prayed for guidance as to which publisher to approach. For some reason, I felt led to this particular one. They were based in the US with multiple imprints. They also accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Most publishers at the time didn’t.
Why not an agent you might ask? I don’t really know why. Many had rejected me previously so I chose to try the direct route.
Then I waited.
Surprisingly, not for too long.
Six weeks later my day commenced with the scan of the Inbox. My heart leapt. There was one titled: “Proposal for Angel Guard.” It probably took me three seconds to open it.
“We’re very excited about the possibility of co-publishing Angel Guard …” I must have read that line multiple times between running around the house ranting and raving. Nobody else was home at the time. I forwarded the email onto Fiona who immediately replied with a “Congratulations and what does this mean?”
I was pumped. Finally, I could see light at the end of the tunnel.
During my writing hiatus, the non-traditional publishing methods had really begun to take off. Self-publishing, vanity publishing, co-publishing, print on demand, etc, etc had all started to become commonly used expressions in the industry and media.
So what’s co-publishing? The offer was very simply one where the publisher would provide editorial, printing and distribution services on the basis I would invest in purchasing a certain number of copies of the novel. The more I bought, the cheaper the average buy price would be.
Both Fiona and I are commercially oriented people. So neither of us was concerned by the concept. Almost all start-up businesses require a financial investment by the founders. We chose to look at it along the same lines.
With our commercial glasses on the natural response to the investment equation was what return would we make? As we were investing a reasonable sum, think 5 figures, we expected a decent return.
There were also the little challenges of where to store a pallet of books and the sales and distribution of those books. We would keep all of the monies from the sale having paid for them.
As I was a novice with these contracts or any publishing contract for that matter, I sought wise counsel. Besides the valuable services of the Australian Society of Authors lawyer, I identified a variety of people in the Christian writing industry: authors, publishing professionals and bookstore owners. Some I knew, most I didn’t. I wrote to each of them offering to buy them coffee if I could have 30 minutes of their time to discuss my situation.
Most responded. Some proposing a fee for their services for the consult that I declined, others phone conversations. But I struck gold with the final one. Paul amazed me with his graciousness by giving me 45 minutes of his Saturday. He suggested I could get a much better deal.
This was a wonderful example of the giving to the needy. Often we fall into the trap of thinking the “poor” are only those in financial distress. However, I believe Jesus message of give freely also relates to those who are “poor” in any area. If you have a talent, certain knowledge, give it freely to those who lack. I was lacking.
A few weeks after receiving the offer I requested of the publisher a number of additional elements to reduce the risk I was taking on the investment. These were rejected and we parted on amicable terms.
Advice and time wasn’t all Paul provided. He gave me an introduction to a certain acquisitions editor he knew well who was based in England.
Let me leave it there for the final instalment next week.
Thanks for sticking with me.