Author Update – The Tedious Submission Process
First, I’d just like to wish all of you a safe and healthy year.
In my last update, written in May 2021, I told you that I completed the first major revision of my full length manuscript titled, Reclaiming Mni Sota: An Alternative History of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Since then, I’ve been working hard trying to find an agent or publisher for my story. Today, I’m writing to update you on that process.
Query and Synopsis Preparation – In order to catch the attention of an agent or publisher, it’s important to have a professional, engaging query letter and synopsis. That’s why, in July of last year, I hired Readerly to provide me with a service called Pitch Support. Working one-on-one with Readerly’s founder, Robin Henry, we wrote and rewrote a query and synopsis for my manuscript. Additionally, Robin edited the first fifty pages of my manuscript, which are often required for submission, and she helped me write one sentence log lines and 280 character Twitter pitches. Finally, Readerly identified twenty-five literary agents they believe would be most interested in representing my manuscript. The entire process took about six weeks, and I was very satisfied with the services provided. If you’re interested, you can read the query and synopsis here (Reader beware – there are spoilers in the query and synopsis).
Sensitivity Reading – In August, at the recommendation of Readerly, I asked Native American community members if they would read my manuscript to check for the accuracy of the Native history, culture, and language represented in my story. This is known as a sensitivity read. Thankfully, Michael A. (AmikoGaabaw) Loso, an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe, volunteered for this. Previously, Mike had read, and was impressed by, my novel Resisting Removal. After a few weeks, Mike returned the manuscript with a multitude of specific corrections and valuable insight which I then incorporated into the story. I am glad for Mike’s help, and I know it made the manuscript much better.
Submission Process – In September and October, using the list of agents provided by Readerly, I began submitting my manuscript for literary representation. Also, in November I began submitting directly to a handful of small presses. So far, I’ve submitted my manuscript to twenty-one agents and eleven publishers. Of those, I’ve received nine agent rejections and five publisher rejections. I’m still waiting to hear back from the rest. At the end of this blog post, I’ve shared screenshots of the rejections letters. They are discouraging, of course, but they are also part of the process.
Moving Forward – As you can see, I’m still waiting to hear back from more than half of the agents and publishers I’ve submitted to. Also, I plan to continue submitting before considering independent or hybrid publishing. However, the manuscript has not yet been through professional editing and, no matter what route the story goes through to finally reach your bookshelves, it will need to go through developmental editing from an objective, professional source. Because of this, I’m now in the process of searching for a developmental editor. This kind of edit is quite expensive (which is why I’ve avoided it so far) but also quite valuable. Therefore, in a month or two, if the manuscript hasn’t been accepted by an agent or publisher, I will hire a developmental editor to help me strengthen the story and give it a better chance of being accepted once I continue the submission process.
In the meantime, I’m keeping myself busy by managing my independent press, History Through Fiction. I’ve now published three books under the imprint, and I’ve just signed two new authors. I’m also busy promoting the press through social media, a podcast, and a virtual author panel series. I was also recently hired as a freelance editor to complete a copy edit of another author’s manuscript. This is a great way to help me generate income while using my skills, experience, and education. You can learn more about my editing services here: https://www.historythroughfiction.com/services
Colin Mustful is an independent author, historian, and publisher. His work helps readers learn and understand the complicated and tragic history of settler-colonialism and Native displacement in the Upper Midwest. He has a Master or Arts degree in history and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. He is also the founder of History Through Fiction, an independent press that publishes high-quality fiction that is rooted in historical research. Mustful is an avid runner and soccer player who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He believes that learning history is vital to understanding our world today and finding just, long-lasting solutions for the future.