This blog originally appeared on In between the Lines book blog. To check out the full post visit: http://ow.ly/HsNY30hXsuy or on Twitter at @CathyRy
My first full-length novel was A Criminal Defense. After I completed it, I sent some query letters to publishers but never heard back, so the book sat on the shelf for two years.
Then, one day, I was at a professional conference of lawyers who do the same kind of legal work I do and I ran into a colleague, Anderson Harp, who was a published author. I explained to him that I had written a novel, and had sent query letters to publishers but never heard back. Andy told me I never would hear back; publishers pay no attention to unsolicited work. He told me that the key to getting something published was to get an agent. The conversation continued:
Me: That’s great. How do I get an
Andy: You can’t.
Me: I can’t?
Andy: Is your next door neighbor an
agent? Do they like you?”
Me: No, on both counts.
Andy: Then, you can’t get an agent.
I said that can’t be; lots of writers had agents. They had to get them somehow. Eventually, Andy relented and revealed that the secret to getting an agent was to first hire an editor. The traditional publishing houses, he explained, used to have very deep benches of editors. But with all the upheaval and contractions in the publishing world, many of these editors—really great, accomplished editors—were on their own. Generously, Andy put me in touch with his personal editor—Ed Stackler. Andy told me that Ed was a blue-chip editor with the highest pedigree and it would be great for me if Ed would agree to look at my novel and, if he felt it worthy, to edit it.
When I first spoke with Ed, he agreed to look at the book and tell me whether it was worth editing. If so, he said he would edit it, but would not send it to an agent. Getting it to an agent was important to me, but I agreed to send him the manuscript even if he wouldn’t help with that part of it, simply to see if the book was potentially publishable, or was pure dredge.
A month after I sent the book, Ed got back to me and said the book was worth editing and he would be glad to do so. I said, “But you still won’t send it to an agent?” He said in fact, he would, and explained that he initially told me he would not because he didn’t want to get my hopes up, and much of what’s out there isn’t very good.
So Ed Stackler edited A Criminal Defense, and got it into the hands of agent Cynthia Manson, who agreed to represent me, and who sent it to Gracie Doyle at Thomas and Mercer, an Amazon imprint. Amazon did a two-book deal. A Criminal Defense was published in March of 2017 and ended up being a 2017 Amazon Kindle top-10 best seller. The second novel, An Engineered Injustice comes out January 23, 2018.