Was it an active choice to NOT employ an agent, or did you not really think about it?
I was quite naive when I decided to submit Fury. I didn't really know what an agent was or did. I was under the mistaken illusion it was for "famous authors" that dealt with huge publishing houses. I thought I didn't need one if I only aimed for the small indie houses.
You said you aimed to target smaller publishers, why was that?
I was unsure of my manuscript, but I thought it had potential and I really liked it. In my mind I thought if I found someone small, that maybe I would get a more "hands on" approach. When I saw on their website their goal was to foster authors and not just find one-off novels, I thought that looked perfect. As it turned out, my path to publication with black dog books was sort of like a mentorship. Just what I was after.
How many publishers did you submit to before Black Dog?
Black Dog was my first and only one! I'm a rejection letter virgin.
[Do you remember me saying yesterday that you would hate Shirley, readers? This is why. She is an author who has never received a rejection letter. She’s not supposed to EXIST. Let’s all glare at her some, shall we?]
How awesome was "the call" and can you tell me about it?
I was so surprised. I got an email from Melissa Keil. Below is the exact email. It wasn't an immediate fairytale "yes" though, it was a series of talks and revisions (I had to submit a new draft) before it became that way. Nevertheless, the first contact letter was still exciting!
Subject: Submission - 'Fury'
Date: 25 March 2009 9:17:16 AM AWDT
To: Shirley Marr
Thank you for submitting the sample of your young adult novel 'Fury'. I have to say that your cover letter was one of the better letters I have received (it was nice to read something with a smattering of personality, something strangely lacking from many submissions!)
I would be interested to read the rest of your novel - it would be great if you could submit it electronically, preferably as a word doc.
Looking forward to finishing your book - and ps, thank you for the chocolates, they were much appreciated by a sugar-starved editorial team.
How did you find negotiations and contracts, going it alone. Did you struggle through it yourself or have a lawyer look it all over and negotiate?
It was easy because bdb is small, so there wasn't a lot of "red tape" - I met the publisher, Andrew Kelly, almost straight away. I did have a lawyer look at the contract and a few things were changed. A small publishing house meant I could negotiate everything with Andrew himself.
Do you feel you made the right choice for you?
For Fury, definitely yes.
Anything of particular interest happen/things you think were unique to your situation that you'd like to talk about?
My decision not to go with an agent was a personal choice. It felt right for the novel and for my situation back then as a writer. If I had felt I wanted to go international, or I felt I wanted to go with a bigger publisher, then having an agent would have been the better choice. I encourage people to go accordingly what their aspirations are.
Was Fury the first novel you wrote?
The first published novel yes, but I have written almost my entire lifetime so there are a lot of dodgy, unpublishable novels languishing on my hard drive!
How many times did you edit it?
About five times before I sent it out. With my bdb editor Melissa, it went through another four drafts.
Do you have a critique group/partner/go it alone?
I have one "beta" - Ee Von Loo. I trust her with my life. Nothing goes to bdb unless she's seen it first. I pay her in steak, alcohol and Pai Gow.
Were you on the slush pile or get picked up some other way?
I went on that slush pile! But bdb don't use the term slush, they call it "treasure chest" which is really nice!
Are you a pantser/outliner?
More of a pantser actually! This horrifies people. Including all of bdb.
How much editing was involved with your Black Dog editor?
A lot! So much in fact I had to blog a dedication to Melissa here:
If you're working on something new, can you tell us a little about it?
Yes! I am working on something new. It's not a sequel, I won't rule out calling it a prequel, but it'll be in the same universe. Maybe you might meet some "old friends" from Fury. But they might have changed (in a weird TV-show-Heroes way). Good guys might be more like bad guys and vice versa.
A Rejection Virgin and Slush Pile Success Story!
Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.
Strap yourself in...
Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.
So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?
Fury is available in Australia through Black Dog Books right now. Go get it!