I realise I’ve had it relatively easy here in Botswana. I’ve sent manuscripts directly to publishers and they have accepted them. No agents, almost 100% success. I know that is not the big, bad book publishing world outside of our borders. Now I am, once again, jumping into the pool with the sharp-toothed sharks (as opposed to those gentle dull toothed sharks) and I thought I’d bring my faithful readers along with me.
I have a book I wrote about four years ago entitled Claudia’s Lanchaster’s Adventures in Love. I initially sent it out to publishers and agents as a mainstream adult novel. It got rejected ten times- actually two agents never responded at all, four publishers also never troubled themselves, and four others kindly rejected it. So I called it my wallflower novel (no one wanted to dance with it), put it in a drawer, and moved on.
Recently, I dug it out and gave it a read though. I like the plot and love the characters and I felt like I betrayed them a bit. It needed some work, but I thought I’d give it a go.
I scrapped about 10,000 words in total, in some cases whole chapters. I changed a whole lot of show to a little more tell. Moved some chapters forward and others back. And it is now a young adult romance. Lean and mean and ready to dance.
So now the process begins.
I’ve worked on the query and synopsis. I’ve also researched agents and publishers. I think Claudia and I are ready. I’ve chosen one publisher and four agents. I’ve sent them the query below. Now it is time to see if any bite. I know the odds are against us, especially in these economic times- but I’m an optimist.
Wish us luck! I’ll keep you posted.
(Feel free to guide my wayward ship- all advice is highly appreciated.)
THE QUERY LETTER
At first glance, Claudia is a fat girl with nothing to offer and Albert is the “Stutter Boy”, but cursory looks are not where true love can be found; both have learned that the important things lie deeper than that. A chance meeting brings their troubled lives together. Kind Claudia and handsome Albert will struggle through bullying, Ramona, the worst mother in the world, and a murder, before they find the love they are destined for in the arms of each other.
Claudia Lanchaster’s Adventures in Love is a young adult romance targeted at the 15-18 year age group (49, 000 words) set in America. It is the love story of two anti heroes, characters many young people will identify with.
I am a full time writer living in Botswana. I have seven published books; one non-fiction book published in the United States and the rest published here in Botswana. Two of the books are part of my Detective Kate Gomolemo series; The Fatal Payout (Macmillan 2005) and Murder for Profit (Pentagon 2008). My children’s book, Mmele and the Magic Bones, was short-listed for Macmillan UK’s African Writers Prize in 2008 and was published by Pentagon Publishers the same year. It has since been chosen as a set book by the Ministry of Education for standard five (primary).
I have won numerous writing prizes most notably first prize in the BTA/AngloPlatinum Short Story Contest 2007 (South Africa), twice winning highly commended in the Commonwealth Short Story Contest, and in 2007 I won the Orange/Botswerere Award for Creative Writing presented by the Ministry of Youth and Culture Botswana. My short stories have appeared in publications in Australia, the United States, UK, Canada, South Africa, and Algeria. I have a story in the upcoming anthology, One World, which includes writing by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jhumpa Lahiri.
As you can see, I’ve had quite a bit of writing success here in Botswana, but I’m feeling as if it might be time for me to venture a bit further. I’m hoping Claudia will be my mode of transport and you might be our guide.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my query and I look forward to hearing from you.