Monday, November 23, 2009

Crossing my fingers, holding my breath, saying a prayer and all that other stuff

Today I am mailing out a query letter to the young adult editor at Harlequin regarding my manuscript The Cure. I purchased some fancy resume paper and printed the letter and synopsis out on high (I used the draft setting on my printer even for school assignments). Who knows what sort of response I'll get. I enjoyed writing this manuscript, and I'm happy with the way the story turned out, but it all depends on whether or not I can pique the editor's interest enough to have her request a full manuscript (ideally I'd like a publishing contract, but I've got to take it one step at a time).

Initially I had intended to search for an agent (and that's the next step if Harlequin's uninterested) but some weeks ago I discovered that Harlequin's started up a young adult line. Now, before I go too far, I think many people have a very bad image of Harlequin. Most people think of the bodice-ripper style cover and terribly cheese titles, but they publish a wide range of books. Yes, there's Blaze (lots of sex), but they also have Intrigue (spy/action) and LUNA (fantasy) to name a few. They are the biggest publisher of women's fiction. So why not aim big?

When I first discovered their young adult line I was very excited then disappointed. Most of Harlequin's lines accept unsolicited submissions (part of the reason why I sent them my Cimawi's Bay manuscript); however as I read further on the Website, I discovered that this was not the case for the young adult line. Only agented submissions would be accepted. After some trepidation, I did the best thing I possibly could and emailed Maria Synder, a fellow alumnae of Seton Hill and a successful author with Harlequin.

First of all, I wasn't sure if Maria would remember me. We only talked briefly once, and she never read any of my work (although I got to read a really interesting short story by her about a weather magician). Second, I wasn't sure if she would help me. As it turns out Maria is fantastic. In response to my first email she gave me the names of several agents who accepted young adult material and who worked with Harlequin. A few weeks later she emailed me about a new young adult publisher called Leap Books (which will be another avenue to try sometime in the future) and last week she emailed me about Harlequin. They would look at manuscript proposals from unagented authors. She gave me the name and address of the young adult editor and suggested I mention her name in the letter. See, Maria IS fantastic (her books a pretty good too!).

So today I'm putting my query into the mail. All I need to do is purchase the postage required to mail to the United States. What are my chances? Slim, probably. About a gazillion people want to be writers and only a small proportion of them actually get a break; however my chances are better than if I didn't submit at all. If anyone has a spare set of fingers to cross, cross them for me. Say a prayer or do anything else that might sent a little luck my way. And now the waiting begins.




Lisa said...

Good luck!!!

Josh said...

Good luck with your submission, Andrea! That contact you have sounds like a nice gal, indeed. Have you poked around for agents to send your queries as well? Just curious if you have found the internet or something like writer's market a better resource...

S. Andrea Milne said...

So far Maria has been my best resource, but I do need to do some more searching on my own. I'll probably use Web resources first. The age old problem with print is that it can go out of date quickly.