Here's a blurb from Goodreads:
On a stormy May day in 1929, William and Maxine arrive on the doorstep of Battersea Manor to spend the summer with a grandfather they barely remember. Whatever the cousins expected, Colonel Battersea isn’t it.
Soon after they settle in, Grandpa receives a cryptic telegram and promptly whisks the cousins off to New York City so that he can meet an unknown courier and collect a very important package. Before he can do so, however, Grandpa vanishes without a trace.
When the cousins stumble upon Nura, a tenacious girl from Turkey, she promises to help them track down the parcel and rescue Colonel Battersea. But with cold-blooded gangsters and a secret society of assassins all clamoring for the same mysterious object, the children soon find themselves in a desperate struggle just to escape the city’s dark streets alive.
So here's Andrew and Danielle!
AB: Thanks so much for giving us the chance to join the Literary Rambles conversation! Danielle and I thought it might be interesting to talk a little bit about going out on sub—the part of the journey when you're finally ready to try and land a publisher. Personally, I found the submission process more than a little nerve-wracking. In a different way than the query process, though. Querying is like groping your way through a dark cave… with a blindfold on… at midnight. You send out a few queries and either hear “Sorry” or nothing at all, so you tweak the query a little and send out a few more. Nothing… so maybe you tweak the manuscript this time, and change the query accordingly, and send out a few more, and hopefully you finally start to generate some interest.
Submission is different. You’re still in the cave, blindfolded, but now at least you’re being led by the hand by your agent, and she’s wearing one of those plastic miners’ helmets with the big light on the front and she’s been in this cave before. In fact, in the acknowledgements of my book I compared Danielle (obliquely) to Dante’s Beatrice, holding her lantern aloft and guiding me out of the nine infernal circles of hell. Going through it together with her made all the difference.
DC: Andy, it’s been an absolute joy going through the process with you—from the very beginning (a
And it’s certainly an interesting road getting here, the most exciting and harrowing of which (for an author) is submitting the novel to editors. Writers trying to get their book published face many unknowns, from waiting to hear back from publishers, to gauging how high the level of interest is at a house, to deciphering the language of a rejection letter to figure out what the editor really thought of the novel. And these things are absolute crazymaking for any author, but especially a debut author. Going out on submission with a novel is like learning to speak a whole new language, and your agent is the translator.
When I’m out on submission with a novel, I’m essentially doing two jobs at once: I’m managing the editors reading it, and I’m managing my clients, who are trying to keep busy, but (I suspect) hitting refresh on their email more than usual.
AB: The thing I always wondered during the submission process was—what are the odds that my book actually sells? Getting an agent was the hard part, right? You can look at the statistics on Query Tracker and see that agents sign about one query in a thousand. There are ways to improve those odds, of course—sending out multiple queries, researching which agents are right for your book, hopefully having a query and manuscript than stand out from the rest of the slush—but if you manage to sign with an agent, what are the odds of a book selling once it goes on submission? 50%? 75%?
DC: Ah, the statistics of novel submission. It’s longer discussion than we have room for here, as it’s really not about the salability of only one book. It’s also about an author’s potential for growth beyond that one book. If I didn’t feel 100% certain that a manuscript would sell, I likely wouldn’t have signed that client in the first place, which is why I have to say “no” to so many authors who have immense talent (I suppose I’m looking for the one query in a thousand, as you mention above).
That being said, I have clients whose first novel—the novel I signed them on—did not sell, for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean it was the end of the road for us. While I was shopping their first novel, they were hard at work on their next novel, and improving and strengthening their craft. And as a result, we were able to sell their next novel(s).
AB: I do know that any statistical data feels immaterial when you’re watching the days peel off of one of those old-fashioned calendars in your mind and it’s just crickets from the publishers. We were on submission with The Eye of Midnight for about three months, and I think we got close to a dozen “no thank-yous.” Some of those were near-misses, which felt encouraging and also a little bit like a gut punch all at the same time. I kept reminding myself that Danielle understood where my book fit in the publishing landscape and that she believed there was an editor out there that was right for it.[DC1] Through it all, Danielle continually reassured me that The Eye of Midnight would sell, and her confidence was contagious.
DC: I have a very simple submissions motto: relentless optimism. I couldn’t do this job without it. Andy’s book was exemplary, and I knew it was only a matter of time until we found the perfect editor for it—and we did. Yes, rejections sting. But most of the time, it doesn’t do any good to dwell on them. My typical response to a rejection is “onward and upward.” There’s no sense dwelling on who didn’t publish the novel. My job is to find the editor who will.
During the submissions process, I send weekly updates to my clients so they know where things stand, and they aren’t left alone with their very creative thoughts, wondering what’s happening with their book. Even if there is nothing new to report, I will let my clients know that. It’s reassuring for them, especially in the midst of a process over which they have very little control.
AB: I remember where I was when I got the good news. It was a Friday afternoon and I was actually out playing golf. Danielle had warned me nothing ever happens on Friday in publishing, but in spite of that, the phone rang and we had an offer from Rebecca Weston at Delacorte Press (who has turned out to be such a wonderful editor and perfect fit for my book). I let out some kind of primitive war cry, and I remember my golf partners all looked at me like I was certifiable.
DC: Making that call is one of the very best parts of my job. It never gets less thrilling. It’s the
AB: Looking back, I think I have more clarity and objectivity on the whole process. It turns out Danielle’s reassurances weren’t just a placebo. She really had a good sense for the situation and for our chances. I think a good agent will give you an honest perspective on your book and will be able to evaluate if it will have a broad appeal and be an easy sell or if it will take more patience and require a special editor to connect with it.
DC: I work in book publishing, so obviously I love a happy ending to any story, and the happiest ending of all is when a book finds its publishing home. But one of the most important things I’ve learned about being an agent is that I’m not doing any of my clients any favors by trying to sugar coat the information I give to them. If the news is bad, then it’s bad, and we’ll deal with it and overcome it. And if the news is good, then we celebrate. And no matter what, we look ahead to what’s next. It takes awhile to build up that kind of trust between an agent and her client—many months, many revisions, many rejections until finally—victory! It’s an absolute honor to work with a writer as talented as you, Andy, and what a thrill it is to see your gorgeous novel out in the world!
Andrew has generously offered an ARC of THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT for a giveaway and Danielle is offering a query critique. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through March 26th. If you do not want to be included in the query critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. The book giveaway is for U.S. and Canada and the query critique giveaway is international.
Here's what's coming up:
Next following Monday I have a joint interview with debut author Kathryn Purdie and Margo Barbo, her editor at Katherine Teagan, and a giveaway of Kathryn's YA fantasy BURNING GLASS.
The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Kristy Acevedo and a giveaway of her YA science fiction CONSIDER.
The next Monday (can you believe it will be April?) I have an interview with debut author Elizabeth Briggs and a giveaway of her YA science fiction FUTURE SHOCK.
Wednesday that week I have an agent spotlight interview with Elana Roth Parker and a query critique giveaway.
Hope to see you on Monday!