Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The End of my DAW Journey

Dear Mr. Stampfel,

In June of 2009, I submitted my science fiction novel, The Influence, to you for publication consideration. Just two short months later, I received word that you'd pushed my novel through the first stage. Every six months, I've sent follow-up letters and for each one, you've graciously taken time out of your schedule to respond.

It has now been two years since that first letter came to me. In that two years, I have written and published several short stories and I have written two other novels. My latest novel, a fantasy entitled Future Past, has caught the eye of another publisher and I'm in the process of doing their suggested edits in hopes that they will decide to take my work on.

I've been very patient with DAW because I love DAW Books and because I always have something going with my writing. With that being said, I feel like I've been patient long enough.

There was something that you found intriguing enough about The Influence to pass it on and it is my hope that you will give it another look. Even though I admit that I've learned quite a bit in the last two years and that The Influence could probably use another brushing, the story is unique and interesting enough to warrant further consideration.

I find that I can no longer offer you exclusive review after August 31 and will submit to other publishers. If you are interested (or whoever does the next reading), please let me know before the end of August. My contact information is at the end of this letter. If not, I feel it is time to move on. I love DAW but I love the story too much to continue to let it sit with no hint of when I might get some sort of answer.

Thank you so much for your attention. I hope to hear from you soon.


Pamela Caves
Facebook has this thing where they show "On this Day in (year)".  If you're on Facebook, you've likely see this.  On this day in 2009, my status update was:
OMG! I got a letter from DAW (imprint of Penguin USA - Major publishing house in New York) that said my novel made it through the first reading! Not exactly an acceptance but it's not a rejection! Yippee!
I remember the excitement I felt that day.  I cried happy tears.  Finally, all my hard work and persistence meant something.  DAW recognized me and it felt incredibly good.  For almost a year, I kept that letter on my refrigerator so I could read it often. 

Eventually, though, it came down and is now stuck in one of my writing files somewhere.  When DAW said they were backlogged, I expected 9 months, a year at the most.  One year went by, then a year and a half.  Then last month I really had to ask myself if I was willing to sacrifice my dignity for a chance to work with a publisher as popular as DAW.

The Influence is very important to me.  It is a story that touches on the stereotypes of the South, a story about a religion's bad points while bringing out its good points.  It's a story about a girl who loves her sister so deeply, she goes to impossible lengths to protect her, even if she doesn't feel that her sister is entirely good.  I've been working on it for almost a decade.  It is a part of me as much as my arm.  It was hard to sit for so long without any word of how or why there was such a long wait and especially hard not to have any clue when I might expect a response.

As great as DAW is, and I mean no disrespect as I write this, I felt that I was being brushed off because without an agent, it was acceptable to treat me in such a way.  I'm a patient person and I realize in this biz, things often move slow.  However, telling writers to submit with exclusivity but then make them sit and wait for over two years to find out if they even have a shot is not very courteous or fair to those they've said passed the first reading.

Today is the last day of August and I haven't received a response on the above letter. I sent it near the end of last month so there has been plenty of time.  I've received responses to my follow-ups quicker than this.  To be honest, I really didn't expect to hear anything.  In two years if they hadn't decided whether they wanted my work or not, I don't suspect that they would pull out all the stops to tell me now.

It's sad that it's over.  For two years, I've clung onto that hope that I would get a phone call, email, or letter telling me that I'd passed the second reading.  It was a fun daydream, though.

Someone asked me awhile back if it was worth it.  I told them to wait until it was all over for my answer.  Even though it didn't turn out in my favor, I'm going to say that this experience was absolutely worth it.  Strange answer, I know, but I have learned so much in the last two years that had it not been for the first letter from DAW, I might not have learned anything.  I am so thankful for that.  It has and will continue to enable me to hone my skills.

What's next for The Influence?

I'm setting it aside for now.  I'm working on the first draft of Barrier, a sci-fi short fiction series that I plan on pitching to Fiction Lake.  Then I'm doing a complete rework of Future Past, my most recent fantasy novel, for resubmission to Hadley Rille.

1 comment:

  1. I'm wondering how common it is for writers to disregard that exclusivity request. It does seem ridiculous. The more I learn about the publishing industry, the more it seems that only writers who squeeze around the rules get the major publisher contracts. The 150,000 word count limit for new writers is another rule that some new writers seem to disregard ...