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The Joys of Networking

by Stephanie Casher on August 16, 2006

So most of you know that I’ve been waiting very patiently to hear back from several publishers who are reviewing my manuscript… One publisher in particular I was very anxious to hear from, as they were one of my top choices, and two editors at this publishing house had shown interest in my manuscript. Well I seem to have hit a little roadblock with that publisher — the editor who requested my manuscript is leaving the company for a position with Warner Books.

When I returned from my trip, I found my manuscript had been returned by this outgoing editor (returned not rejected, along with a letter stating that I should “feel free to resubmit to another editor within the company until further notice.” This was disappointing on several levels, but mainly because I was already “in the door” with this outgoing editor, and having to start over from square one with another editor adds another 6-9 months to the waiting game. Aargh! Also, I didn’t know how to proceed… Should I query editor #2 first, or just send the full manuscript explaining the situation? Should I send it to Editor #1 at her new house? The last thing I want is for my manuscript to end up in the slush pile (editors seldom pay much attention to manuscripts unless they are specifically requested). What to do???

I decided to drop an email to one of the industry contacts I made at the Black Writers Conference in Dallas. This agent is currently reviewing my manuscript for possible representation, and hosted an excellent panel at the conference where she explained that “Black Publishing is a very small circle… actually, it’s not even a circle, it’s a dot.” Well she knows just about everyone inside this dot, so I emailed her and explained my situation, and within the hour she CALLED me to answer my question.

First of all, the turnaround time on my query, when I’m so accustomed to waiting forever to hear back from people, was Awesome. Her feedback and insight on the situation was incredibly helpful (saving me a grip of time and frustration), and she even offered to mention my situation to Editor #2 the next time she talks to her, and forward the manuscript along if Editor #2 wants to see it… Now that’s what I call efficient. And I’m not even her client!

So for now, things with that publisher are on “pause”, until some stuff shakes out… But I have someone on the inside looking out for me, which is a nice feeling. Writing can be such an isolating business in some ways, but now that I have other writers to commiserate with, and guardian agents looking out (THANKS MJ!!!), it’s much easier to ride out the waves of uncertainty. And I know that with each step, even the tiny ones, I’m inching closer to my dream…

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