It’s been over a year since I first considered the book complete, and I’ve been looking for an agent or publisher on and off since.

I say “on and off” because every time I read back over the book, I find something that needs to be changed. So Lightning on the Levee, although “complete”, has been in improvement for all this time.

How the publishing system works

In case you don’t know how the publishing system works, this is the procedure:

Research Research Research

I research and find literary agents, or publishers who don’t require that I have a literary agent, and who will consider both –

a. Romantic Science Fiction, and
b. An author’s first novel.

Those are not easy to find!

And when I find one, I add them to my list, which I keep on a spreadsheet. I even found one agent who didn’t state a preferred genre. He simply said, “Surprise me!”  [So I did. 🙂 ]

The list is always in flux, with names added and names highlighted in my various color codes, until they go to gray. [Gray means they said “No”.]

Pick a name and query them

Next, I go through my list and choose a name. What does *this* agent want? Query letter only? Query plus one chapter, three chapters, five? Chapters in the email body or sent as an attachment? Maybe they don’t want chapters, they want pages instead. Ten pages? Fifty? One hundred?

Just so you know, sending pages instead of chapters bugs me just a bit. The last word on page 20 or 50 or 100 is *never* the last word in a sentence!

What else do they want? A synopsis? An outline? An expanded outline?

No two agents ever want the same thing here. I’ve sent a one page outline with 50 page synopsis. A 30 page outline with one paragraph synopsis… And pretty much everything in between.

So you see, there’s a lot more writing to do in preparing queries to send. I could have completed another book!


Then, I wait. It can take months to hear back from someone – if they respond at all. About 90% never respond in any way. And some require that you don’t query other agents until they’ve said “No”.

Out of all the agents/publishers I’ve queried, there have been some who were enthusiastic about Lightning on the Levee! But they said “No” anyway. Here is what the latest response said:

“We thoroughly enjoyed the chance to dive into the material you sent for your romantic science fiction. You have an amazing grasp on characters, and how to build tension to create a scene. The description of the storm from the very beginning pulled us in, and we loved having time with Flint and Molly, and seeing their interactions grow.

It is with a heavy heart, however, that we’re unable to offer you an agency contract at this time.”

Oh, well.

For Publishing – Rinse, Repeat.

Repeat all of the above until you find a publisher. One author stated that if you don’t have at least 20 letters of rejection, you haven’t tried. Well, apparently I’ve been trying, because now I have my twenty!

My beta readers loved Lightning on the Levee. I know it’s a good story and is well-written. So I’m continuing onward. I have a new list of publishers that don’t require an agent, and I will continue pressing on as long as I have to.

In the meantime, I’m making progress on my second novel. 🙂

Stay tuned!