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The Rebel Nun Coming in Paperback Soon

To anyone who writes a blog—even an occasional rumination disseminated to a handful of folks, like mine—comes the time when she has little to relay but feels obligated to “check in” – so to speak – with her friends, as it’s been so long.


Today, I have a bit of news that keeps this missive from being totally irrelevant, but it’s only a bit. And then another bit that’s an update.

First the news: the paperback edition of The Rebel Nun is now scheduled to come out in early March from Blackstone Publishing. I received the mock-up of the cover last week, and I expect to get the interior for review soon. The paperback, I hope, will extend the audience for the book, although it is likely that Amazon will price it above the cost of the hardcover at first. That upside-down pricing should right itself over time, but it might help to clear the shelves of those hardcovers that are otherwise destined for the remainder table.


Now the update: I wrote recently about my quest to find an agent for The Candlemaker’s Woman, my novel about a fifth-century woman sold into slavery in Gaul. A query campaign’s secret, according to Sharon Woodhouse (https://pipelineartists.com/finding-a-home-for-your-fiction-manuscript/) is recognizing it is a numbers game, which means: lots of query letters. We’ve all heard the stories of famous writers whose manuscript was rejected by hundreds of undiscerning editors before finally finding a publisher, and that’s the basic message here. Don’t give up.


I sat at my computer for several hours a month ago and found 288 agents who express at least a passing interest in representing historical fiction. Of those, I chose 70 that I thought were best bets. And then I chose 18 to write to first. I had already found two agents that Publishers Marketplace informed me had recently sold historical novels to publishers.


So far, I have sent out 20 queries, following the individual directions from each agent, sending just exactly the right number of pages of the novel and the right attachments or “NO attachments.” I sent the first two late in November, the next 12 in the first week of January and another six today. The response has been about what I expected: nearly crickets. I did hear from one agent, who explained that the book is “not right for my list right now,” which is nearly ubiquitous language in such rejections. But I appreciated hearing from her! Most agents never respond at all, so thank you, Stacy Testa for getting back to me.


Most agent websites warn that this is likely. A response can take up to six months, some say. Others say, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Or, in other words, “Assume we don’t like it if we don’t get back to you.”


So, I’ve added “learning patience” to my 2022 resolutions, which already included “practice equanimity in all things” and “don’t gain weight.”


I’ll be sending out another round of a dozen letters in a couple of weeks. Cross your fingers for me (an old pagan response to uncertainty, I think, and about as effective as prayers), and I’ll let you know what (if anything) happens.

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