Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Zomburbia update

C. S. Lewis. Mr. Lewis received some 800
rejections before any of his stories saw print.
The last time we spoke, or, perhaps more accurately, the last time I talked at you, I'd just acquired an agent and she was preparing to send out my novel, Zomburbia, to a number of publishers and editors. I just wanted to bop over here and give an update on that situation. Just like the title of this post says. Truth in advertising, kids.

True to her word, Ann prepared a submission packet and sent it off to eighteen publishers. That may seem like a lot, and it is -- it's more than she would normally query, but she's not known in the YA field and she wanted to cast a wide net. Of those eighteen, six have gotten back to us with some version of no thanks. Most of these have said something along the lines of, "It doesn't sound right for us" or "It sounds like something we already have in our pipeline." Two have mentioned that they think there's zombie fatigue in the market. That's a bit worrying, but I'll address it in a moment.

But it's not all bad news: So far, five publishers have asked to see the full manuscript. Those aren't bad numbers, right? Six said no thanks, five want to read it, and seven still need to respond. Ann and I feel confident that if folks read the book, the voice of the main character will win them over. For "confident," you may want to insert "hopeful." Whatever, we think we have a good shot at attracting at least one publisher. We may need to wait a while to find that out, however. The reading/approval process is a long one and there's the Christmas/New Year's holiday at this end of this month, so it will probably be drawn out even longer. I'm doing my best to be patient.

Here's where I want to talk about zombie fatigue. A couple of years ago, when I had first started writing what would become Zomburbia, I had a chance to talk to an agent about my writing and she asked to see the opening chapters of the book. She was mostly negative about it, mainly citing that there were too many zombie books on the market. This was two years ago, mind, and the field hasn't become any less crowded. She then suggested I write something else, something very specific. For a time, I abandoned the manuscript and tried to write what she'd asked for, but my heart was never in it. I later came to realize that she was probably only ever interested in this one thing she wanted written and was looking for someone to write it for her. Even after that realization, I didn't pick up Zomburbia again. Her comment about the saturation of the field gnawed at me.


But I couldn't get the book out of my head. Courtney, the main character spoke to me, delivered long speeches in that voice of hers, speeches that made their way into the book once I got back to writing the stupid thing. Because I realized that no matter how saturated the market was, this was a book I had to write. It was a book I wanted to read and it was about characters and situations that I wanted to know about. I wanted to see how it all worked out in the end. And isn't that what you're supposed to do? Aren't you supposed to write books and stories that you want to read, market forces be damned? Well, I sure as shit hope that's what you're supposed to do. And I hope that those five editors who now have my manuscript can sense the urgency I had when I wrote it.

I think that might be the book's only hope, and I think it's a good one.

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