January 13, 2011


I've made a decision about the-novel-known-as-Ann. Actually, I've made two decisions. One is that, for now anyway, the title will be Where The HeArt Is. (The capital A in the middle of HeArt is deliberate.) I need a title because I'm going to offer it to some publishers. Not with any great expectation of success, but because it seems closer to what I want to do than self-publishing, or publishing it as a ebook only, which are the other options I have been thinking about.

So, I've been reading the internet about "making pitches" as it seems to be called and have written a "hook" and a synposis and am working on a "query letter." Most publishers' submission guidelines ask for these plus the 2 or 3 opening chapters. I have identified seven publishers in New Zealand that I will send to, carefully following the (different) guidelines for each. Most want printed, not emailed, submissions: for their "slush pile," which is publisher-speak for unsolicited manuscripts. Here's the "hook":

In Where The HeArt Is (52,000 words), forty-two-year-old New Zealander, Ann Williams, has intimate encounters with art treasures as she travels in New York, Washington DC, London and Paris, after losing her partner to another woman and her university job to redundancy. In the first three cities she is visiting relatives, at the instigation of her mother.
During an extended stay in London to help the family of her cousin, whose twins are two years old and whose wife is pregnant and afflicted with day-long 'morning sickness', she has an intimate encounter of a different kind with a librarian. The librarian, Suzanna, is a black citizen of the UK and insists on a 'present tense' affair — no sharing of past histories, no future planning. All the while, Ann seeks answers to her own questions about who she is and how she will determine her future when she returns home to New Zealand.

I am also going to send a "pitch" to an agency firm in the UK. I think my novel is more suited to the UK than to the US, and I liked the website of this outfit. I've never had an agent, but I gather to get a book published overseas you need one, so I'll give it a try.

Why aren't I including the names of the publishers and the agent? Because I found them in relation to my particular novel, and I think that is a useful thing for everyone to do, seek out publishers etc specifically for their own project. The website at http://publishers.org.nz/ has a list of members with plenty of information about each one.

So, that's the next couple of days' to do list. Here's where I'll be doing it:


  1. The query letter needs some honing. You're talking about where she goes not what choices she has to make. A good query entices me to read the novel not say "oh, that's nice" and move on to the next one.

    Query letters are harder to write than novels; short form writing is VERY hard to do well.

    Good luck with your work.

  2. Thanks, Janet. I'm learning about querying.