Author Topic: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?  (Read 4081 times)

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Offline Jason

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New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« on: January 07, 2008, 02:57:13 PM »
Hello Everyone:

I am new to the forum but have been reading about and researching Russian history and the Romanovs for several years now.

I have written a 65,000 word manuscript (mainstream fiction) and am trying to find a publisher.

The main character believes that an elderly gentleman living in her town is Alexei Romanov, but is not sure. The plot revolves around her trying to prove/disprove whether he is or not and learning about what actually happened to the Romanovs. There is also romance and adventure. The "Alexei" character turns out to be a bit of a hero.

I recently travelled to St. Petersburg, Russia on a research and fact-finding trip. I have been working on the manuscript for a couple of years now and it has undergone several revisions and edits, so it is a serious effort.

I have sent query letters to several publishers here in Canada but so far no one has expressed interest. If anyone on this forum is a publisher or knows of a publisher who may be interested in this type of story, please reply to this message. I would be willing to work with a publisher based in any country (the US, Australia, the UK, Russia).

Thanks, Jason.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2008, 03:04:11 PM by Jason »

Offline lostromanovfiles

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2008, 08:00:18 PM »
Is ti finished yet?

Offline Jason

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 12:00:07 AM »
Yes, it is finished.

I continue to tinker here and there but it is ready to send to a publisher for review.

Offline dmitri

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 08:11:52 AM »
How exciting for you.

Offline lostromanovfiles

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 11:02:01 AM »
You may wish to check out the thread on my book, "The Lost Romanov Files", as it has some useful information about publishing books. How did you approach the characterizations of the persons in the book? Did you try anything risky in the work? I put a few typos and such in mine so that it would read like a regular guy had just typed it out one day, instead of reading like a perfect novel. I had to fight the spell check program on my computer to get some of those things in, but that was how I wanted it to read. I believe in taking a few risk, and what the heck?
     Did you set the story in the 1970s or 1980s? I am curious about the book that you are writing. I may have to buy a copy when it comes out. Good luck with the book, and dont give up if you do not get published at first. Sometimes one must keep pushing until a door is opened.
Warmest Regards
Richard Stanbery

Offline Jason

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 05:32:27 PM »
How did you approach the characterizations of the persons in the book? Did you try anything risky in the work? I put a few typos and such in mine so that it would read like a regular guy had just typed it out one day, instead of reading like a perfect novel. I had to fight the spell check program on my computer to get some of those things in, but that was how I wanted it to read. I believe in taking a few risk, and what the heck?
     Did you set the story in the 1970s or 1980s? I am curious about the book that you are writing. I may have to buy a copy when it comes out. Good luck with the book, and dont give up if you do not get published at first. Sometimes one must keep pushing until a door is opened.
Warmest Regards
Richard Stanbery

Thanks for your advice Richard. It sounds like your book was written in first-person narrative by Alexei. Mine is written third-person. My "Alexei" character is in his 90's (so it takes place sometime in the 1990's).

I'm finding getting published very difficult. Canadian publishers get thousands of queries every year and only publish ten or fifteen books each. And there are only about twenty Canadian publishers worth mentioning. Many of them only deal with agents. Finding an agent is just as difficult.

Therefore, I have little choice but to look for a publisher elsewhere. But I know it can be just as competitive in other countries.

Offline lostromanovfiles

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2008, 08:06:26 AM »
     I feel like I came out well blessed when I found my publisher, PublishAmerica. Like you, I did not have an agent, but things that are meant to be have a way of happening, and so it worked out. I do not know if this is an option for a Canadian, but you could contact them if you like to see what they have to say. If you cannot find any other publisher who is willing to work with you, then self-publishing might be an answer. Things have changed a lot in the last twenty years, and we now live in an age of the computer and world wide webs, so self publishing and the challenges of the promotions that come with it might be a real possibility for you. I have faith that you can get published, after all you did write the book. Do not become discouraged about the brick walls that often come into our paths, they just make the final win feel that much sweeter when we do get published.
     As for my own book, I did not focus on Alexie, but on Marie and her hiers. I wanted to portray the fictional hiers in a way to show what they might have been like had they lived. I had a father figure who was symbolic of Nicholas, and a daughter figure who was symbolic of Marie and what she might have been like at age 35. My main character falls in love with her and marries her, and so on. The book was kind of like a tribute to the Romanovs, and written in such a way that modern laypersons might be able to connect with them in a sympathetic understanding.
     I can not help but get a little misty when I view the homage videos on the Romanovs, especially the ones that show the moving pictures of the children. Who could help but to fall in love with the little ones as they played and ran around the deck of the Standart? I am glad that I was able to write a book that would introduce the Romanov family to modern readers, just to remind the world that they were once here, they once lived, and they were part of our world. They were deeply religious, and in many ways, they might have been better than the modern world of today.
     I tried very hard to show the contrast between the old fashioned values of the Edwardian era as compared to our modern human condition, and perhaps this might cause the readers of our time to reflect on the fact that with the brutal murders of a loving family, something precious passed from this world. This was what I had to say, and I just kept trying until I found a publisher that was willing to give a newcommer a chance. It is the same for you, just keep pushing until you find a crack in the wall. Sometimes we authors must actually learn from the Romanovs, and to keep our faith in frustrating times until we find what we are looking for.

Warmest Regards
Richard

Offline Grand Duchess Marishka

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2008, 08:32:54 AM »
I am no expert in the field of writing or publishing, but I recently did a massive research project on the whole process, which involved interviewing published authors, as well as agents, editors, and publishers. I got a great deal of information!!! My advice for you is to go to Writer's Conferences. Subsidy and Vanity presses are VERY expensive in the long run (some take the rights to your novel and most will make you pay a certain fee per page of your work), and getting an agent can be very time-consuming! (That probably is one of the safest bets, if you don't mind waiting!)

But, so, writer's conferences...You can meet a number of agents/publishers there, who will review your work, and--if interested--give you a bit of advice and take you on as a client. A local woman was telling me how she met her agent at a Writer's Conference, and she was published by Bantam! :)

This is very exciting!! I'm looking forward to your book! It sounds great! :-D

Offline Jason

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2008, 10:55:57 PM »
I just wanted to give everyone an update on the manuscript.

Starting this January, I sent out 20 letters of query to various Canadian publishers. I got 19 rejection letters and one asked to see the full manuscript. Of the rejection letters, most said:

"sorry, but we receive thousands of manuscripts every year but we only publsh about 20 books a year".

A few made critical comments about the sample chapters:

"although it shows promise, it is mainly an adventure/mystery but we mainly publish romantic novels" or

"our reviewers have read the sample chapters with interest but felt it did not fit our publishing needs" or

"our reviewer felt that some elements of the plot were not believable".

The one publisher that did read the full manuscript gave a very favourable review. They read it with great interest and said that I was a "strong writer" and the Alexei character was quite memorable. The reason they rejected it was because they publish "young adult" novels and my main characters are mostly adults. They said if I re-wrote the manuscript with a young adult as the protagonist, they might publish it.

Needless to say the first 19 rejections were very discouraging. Sending out material to publishers and waiting for the rejection envelopes to come in the mail is like a slow form of torture. At one point, I was so fed up with the process, I had made my mind up to give up writing. When the favourable review came in, it gave me enough hope to keep trying.

So, I sent out another 20 query letters to US publishers. The results were a little better. I got about 18 rejection letters. Most were very kind but made similar statements like "we get thousands of manuscripts every year, only publish about 25 books/year. Keep trying."

One publisher asked to see the full manuscript in April. I sent it to them and waited patiently. Two months went by and I heard nothing. I sent them an email asking if they received it. I got no response for about three weeks. Again, I was getting fed up and about to give up. Then one day, I got an email back saying

"sorry for the delay, we have been undergoing a re-organization of our office and personnel. We currently have all our manuscripts lined up for 2008, but there might be an opening for your manuscript in the fall of 2009"

I was excited. Finally it was going to get published!!!!! Then I said, OK, what's the next step? How does your review process/editorial process proceed? Then I got a strange reply which I cannot understand:

"please recommend someone to review the manuscript. Thank-you."

My understanding was that the publisher reviewed the manuscript and had in-house editorial staff. I replied back "I've already had half a dozen people in the business review the manuscript and they have provided me with feedback and I have already incorporated into the manuscript."

They replied back:  "Please recommend someone who can review this manuscript for us as we are short-staffed. Thank-you."

This response was totally confusing to me. This doesn't make sense. I thought about it for a few days and concluded that it was a form of rejection. In other words, they were telling me to have someone review it and revise it because it is not good enough yet. That response came a couple of weeks ago and I haven't responded to them. Again, I'm getting fed up with the process. It is slow torture. Every day there is some form of rejection or reason to not go on. Why bother with the hassle? Even if the story gets published, the pain I went through to get it published will negate any pleasure.

Anyway, a second US publisher asked to see the full manuscript and I sent it out to them. That was about two months ago. I'm still waiting for a response.

I've got a couple of other publishers that I want to try. They deal mainly with historical fiction and classical music.

But I must tell you, my heart is not in it any more. I spent three years researching, taking novel-writing courses, reading "how to write" books, writing short stories, writing the manuscript, sending it out to professional reviewers, having it critiqued, re-writing, paying writing consultants to go through the story line by line. All in all, the manuscript went through 10 major drafts. I spent countless hours thinking about the plot, the characters, the themes, the decriptions, the setting, the style, the genre etc. etc.

And what for? Rejection, rejection, rejection, rejection.

I still believe in the story. I think it is a beautiful story, well written. It is a real page-turner. Every chapter ends with intrigue, mystery, some suspense. I read portions of the manuscript and still get tears in my eyes when one of my characters experiences something emotional. They seem so real and alive to me.

And then I go to the bookstore and pickup the best-seller or rent a movie at the video store and it's all guns/car-chases/extreme violence/profanity. Our society is saturated with gratuitous violence.

My story is about love, Nature, adventure, romance, history, art, classical music, intrigue, suspense.

Yes, I may just self-publish it. But that will be an empty victory, because who will read it? Who will distribute it? It's not what I had in mind when I first started writing.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2008, 08:54:28 AM »
Hi Jason,

If you've gotten critical commentary and/or requests for the full manuscript, there is certainly reason to hope.

With a manuscript that evokes this sort of interest, it's imperative that you do everything you can to ensure the story is a good potential fit to a prospective publisher before you query. It's smart to query widely, but querying blindly is neither efficient nor effective in the long run. Researching publishers before you query will save you a lot of unnecessary pain and frustration. Books like Writers Market or Guide to Literary Agents provide up-to-date information about what genres publishers and agents are looking for, so you can entirely avoid responses like "it is mainly an adventure/mystery but we mainly publish romantic novels."

These resources will also detail publishers' and agents' submission policies and response times so you can first tailor your approach (query letter only; sample chapters and cover letter, etc.) and then know when it's safe to move on.

In addition, Writers Market breaks down each publisher into imprints, so rather than submitting to Penguin in general, you might find that Alloy, Berkley, Putnam, Riverhead, or Viking might be better suited to your story. Unfortunately, editors at one imprint have neither time nor inclination to pass your manuscript on to another editor or imprint -- it's all they can do to keep their own heads above water, so targeting the right imprint is all up to you.

I promise you, if you take as much care and time researching agents and publishers as you have already taken in researching and crafting your novel, your chances of getting published will increase exponentially.

Finally, if you're getting any sort of positive feedback, keep your chin up. Publishing is ultimately a subjective business, and in the end it's not only about writing well -- you've got to find an editor who loves your story enough to devote many months of work and tens of thousands of dollars to printing and promoting it. That is often a matter of luck and persistence, so be prepared for editors who give you personal, positive feedback, yet reject the manuscript. When that happens, you're very close indeed, so don't give up.
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King

Offline Ilana

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Re: New Manuscript: Alexei Lives?
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2008, 10:23:13 AM »
Amen, Sarushka....

Rejections are disheartening, but incredibly subjective.  You have to do your research and not send, for example, a young adult novel, to a publisher that does primarily mysteries.  You get the idea.

Perhaps, in this case, you ought to try for an agent.  Sarushka recommended all the best references.  Sending directly to the publisher in the US doesn't really fly well.  I'm surprised you got as many responses as you did.

Anyhow, keep at it.   Again, rejections don't really mean a lot (I know how much they hurt, believe me), as Sarushka says, mostly completely subjective according to how the reader felt that day, what their interests are, and if they have the faintest idea what your getting at.

Good luck.
So long and thanks for all the fish