The Price

Yesterday I finished the first full draft (and it isn’t exactly a rough draft) of The Schneebelis Come to America — real title The Price. I like it and what I like best is that the ending is actually true.

Now I’m in the next phase of this whole writer’s adventure. I’ve been here before, lots of times with some close calls that you might call marginal success. I’m beginning the process of putting together a submittal package in hopes of finding a literary agent who will want to represent my book.


Every writer wants to publish a book that people buy. All my books so far have been self-published which has some distinct advantages to me, but — except for the hiking book — self-publishing was the end result of rejection and other things like a publisher going out of business and another publisher changing their mind and an agent not performing. In every case (except with the hiking book) I just reached a point where I didn’t want to try for conventional publication any more. Besides that, I like designing my books.

Rejection also has at least as much to do with the market and perceived saleability of a story as it does with the author’s actual writing. Probably more. All of my books have won prizes — a couple of them have been hard-won and prestigious awards. I’ve learned that lots of things can happen that don’t have anything to do with how well a book is written. But, as this story is about Amurica, I think it might have a better shot than my other books which are about obscure places in a tiny country many people confuse with Sweden.

The big challenge of a submittal package is being able to see your work from OUTSIDE yourself (and it) and writing about it as if you were a reader, not the writer. It’s amazing how difficult it is to do this, just to say, in a few sentences, what the book is about. I don’t think I’m the only writer who, faced with that question, says, “I don’t know.” You get so entangled in the lives of the characters that their lives are almost YOUR life. What would I say if someone said, “Hey, Martha, what’s the central theme of your life?”

“Uh, it changes.”

“Yeah, but there must be a POINT. What does your life SAY?”


Seriously, it’s like that. It would be interesting if we went to someone’s funeral and the officiating person said, “And so, the moral of Lamont’s life is XYZ.”

In any case, having been through this (grueling and strange) process so many times now, and having experienced several different levels of disappointment over the years (most important, disappointment with myself for submitting a manuscript before it was as good as it could be and killing its chances, sort of like cutting off your legs and going out for track) I’m older and wiser. I will go through this, hope for the best and realize there’s no losing, anyway.

18 thoughts on “The Price

    • I hate it, too. But after the tunnel I went down in last time and came out of, I’m not the same person. I really don’t care what happens any more, and that’s liberty. Just reading the agent websites this morning got under my skin, but then I thought, “Fuck ’em.” They can be so arrogant but there’s no point in my reacting 🙂

  1. Good Luck. I admire your steadfastness and I will definitely be a customer when it is published, and it will be published I am sure. How can anyone confuse Sweden with Switzerland? A mystery to me 🙂

    • Many Americans don’t know the difference. They’re countries on a map of Europe, that’s all, and maybe they only studied that map once, in high school. I didn’t believe it (though my international students had told me about it) until I overheard a host-father who had just picked up an international student at the airport. The student was Swiss. The host-father said, “So, you’re from Sweden?” The kid had to explain. 😦

      • I remember when we arrived in New York and the liftboy had a little conversation with us. “Where are you from?” “Switzerland”, “Oh yea I know it, IKEA Furniture” which says it all.

  2. Good Luck! You have what appears to be a sane approach to this. Hard not to take personally this part of the process, when the product is so incredibly personal.

    Sweden/Switzerland. Both start with Sw, must be the same. Of course, how many folks have we run into that are pretty sure that Colorado and California are an hour apart on the freeway.

  3. What a huge effort, Martha. I admire you and am so looking forward to the book when it comes out. I think many of us are guilty of pushing that publish button too soon, so having a publisher helps overcome that impulse. Good luck.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I went through the same scenario myself. My book (Prisoner on Holiday) was well received and many would have published it but they’d changed venues and had given up on the Mystery Romance book and had gone into Science or some other avenue deciding there wasn’t enough whatever in the genre. I finally self-published when my son found out it was possible. Still, I went down the same road asked the same questions, pondered the same thoughts. I’m completely delighted for you and excited. It’s wonderful to hear you so full of verve and excitement. I’m in your corner, if that meant something, did something pushed boundaries and opened doors, that would be a big hurrah! smirk smirk, alas its just me sending a big yeah! to the universe on your behalf 🙂

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