A Year in the Life of a Book in Progress: Part 2

Guest post by Ellie Presner

Note from Cecilia: This is a continuation of last week’s post by guest contributor Ellie Presner, who has graciously shared her chronicle of her book’s progress with this blog. These book progress reports were originally shared on Ellie’s blog, and we’ve compiled them together here. This is an interesting look at the timeline of a book and the querying process, for anyone who might be interested in what the process is like—and how long it takes! Check out Part 1 here. Take it away, Ellie!

 Book Progress Report #7
August 1, 2016

Here’s the latest update! I’ve been up to my eyeballs in revisions on my little memoir, “Surviving Hollywood North: Crew Confessions from an Insider.” Oh, nothing too major, but still time-consuming.

I gave a copy of my book to select beta readers (see my progress report #6) some time ago, who gave me a ton of feedback, and I’ve been working on the fixes.

I am also taking sporadic breaks from that to proof my son-in-law’s latest novel. He, by the way, gave me some very good feedback on my book as did my son, and it is much appreciated!

In spare moments, I’ve also been researching literary agents who are accepting submissions now, as well as how to write a kick-ass query letter.

In between, just for fun, I’m practising guitar and also my bike riding!

Book Progress Report #8
August 11, 2016

So as I mentioned in my last update, I was deep in revisions – but since then I’ve finished that phase and have embarked on my first query submissions to literary agents.

Once I send these out to agents who are accepting unsolicited queries and are interested in the memoir genre, I’ll continue developing an outline I have in mind for my next book. Yep, when I say “Onward!” I mean it!

In other news, I finished proofreading my son-in-law’s novel, and he was so happy, he gave me his next novel to proof! The new manuscript is sitting on my coffee table, daring me to start: it is 2.5 inches thick (one-side only, double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman)! It tips the scales at well over 100,000 words. Just sayin’. He also featured my furry roommate, Annie, in his blog. Here’s the pic of her that he used – she had his first book covered!

Book Progress Report #9
August 29, 2016

Okay, I have been initiated: I got my first rejection letter today from an agent. If I really want to be pessimistic, I could say it’s the first of many. However, I still have hope.

It only takes one “yes.” Many years ago I sent out a query – my first ever – for an article I’d written, to about a dozen magazines. I got a lot of rejections, but then one phone call of enthusiastic acceptance. That editor paid me $1500 for the piece in 1990. Amazing. So I wait, fingers crossed.

But while I’m waiting, I’m plotting my next book. This one will be a novel based on experiences I had during a sojourn in Greece. I’m working on the outline as we speak.

See you later!

Book Progress Report #10
September 12, 2016

Hi all! Just checking in to let you know what’s happening with the queries I sent out. I’ve received two polite rejections so far. I figure they’re a plus, since they didn’t specify: “…and don’t you EVER send us any more of your crappy so-called writing!”

I had sent out six queries to agents, plus one directly to a publisher, ECW Press. All Canadian. The rejections came from one agent plus ECW. So I still have five queries floating around out there.

In case any of you aren’t up to speed on exactly what was being rejected, it is the memoir I finished writing and revising a couple of months ago, called Surviving Hollywood North: Crew Confessions of an Insider. It’s about the decade I spent working on films and TV shows as a script coordinator. You’d want to read it, wouldn’t you?

It’s only been three to four weeks since I sent out the queries, so I still have lots more time… to be rejected. Hey, I’m being realistic. I think the odds on a newbie, me, getting published the ‘traditional’ way are stacked against me. In this case, the house (my house) doesn’t always win.

If I don’t get an agent or publisher – and I will continue to send out queries to more of them, but I’m thinking, just in case – I will go the self-publishing route as have so many others, via Amazon. I will console myself with the fact that Andy Weir’s The Martian was self-published!

Meanwhile, I’m still wrangling an outline for my Greek saga. Details to come. You can get a taste of what you’re in store for by reading my blog post, Greece: Episode Two – I knocked harder.

See you anon!
P.S. – This is my 200th post on my WordPress blog! Wahoo!!!

Book Progress Report #11
November 21, 2016

Hi all! As you will cleverly figure out, this is an update to my last update, which was Book Progress Report #10. If this seems like a never-ending process, that’s because it apparently is. (Insert eye-roll emoji here.)

Aside from the waiting game – waiting for query responses until spider webs form upon your phone/computer screen/mailbox – you must remain ever-eager to toss new and improved queries into the cyber-ether, hoping for further invisible replies. Hard to keep the enthusiasm level perpetually high, without the ol’ positive reinforcement kicking in at least occasionally.

I did get one request for a full manuscript of my memoir. Oh joy! But no response from them so far in the eight weeks since. Oh darn!

It doesn’t help that I have begun to be very proficient in the latest procrastination techniques. I say it doesn’t help, because I do believe that this is a numbers game. It’s a bit like the adage, “you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.” It improves the odds if we buy lots of tickets, right? Similarly, we must send out lots of queries. A tedious prospect. But even as I say this, I’m gearing up to write more. Many more!

So thanks for “listening”… and stay tuned for Book Progress Report #12, coming soonish!

Book Progress Report #12
December 29, 2016

Okay, people. It’s time once again for prayers. Or, for those of the non-praying ilk, crossing fingers.

I have had another request from a publisher for my full manuscript – the second such request since September. This arrived just five days after I sent them my query letter.

I’m very hopeful, but trying not to be too hopeful. I was ecstatic over the last request but since then, nada, so…

For anyone not following this struggle-to-get-my-book-published, just type “Book Progress Report” into the Search box to the right of this post’s title, and you can follow along.

Thanks! Will let you know what happens!

Book Progress Report #13
January 30, 2017

Uh-oh. Number 13 is not my lucky number. Here’s the second rejection letter I just received:

Dear Ms. Presner,

Thank you for thinking of **** Press, and for giving us time to read your work. While we were impressed with the quality of writing and sense-of-humor throughout Surviving Hollywood North, we ultimately decided it wasn’t a good fit for our list. We wish you the best of luck placing it with another publisher in the near future.

All best,

Sigh. I consoled myself by catching an error in his letter. The grammar cop in me notes that “sense of humor” never needs hyphens. Yes yes, petty I know, but if it makes me feel better, why not!

So on to the next… and the next. I’ve decided I’m giving myself until the summer for my agent/publisher querying phase. After that, it’s on to self-publishing. NEXT!


Ellie Presner was born and raised in Montreal, and still lives her life here to the fullest as a freelance writer, editor and proofreader in the land of “bonjour-hi!”

Her writing credits include “Taking Back the Night,” which was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Originally published in Homemaker’s Magazine, it was anthologized in Essays: Patterns and Perspectives by Oxford University Press (1992). Another of her stories, “First Kiss,” was anthologized in The Issues Collection: Gender Issues, McGraw Hill Ryerson (1993). Her other articles have appeared in a variety of magazines; she’s also been published numerous times in the Montreal Gazette and local weekly papers.

Her blog, https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com, has drawn more than 11,000 visitors, with over 23,000 views from 81 countries since its inception almost two years ago.

When not at her Mac desktop, you’ll find her ensconced in my recliner with her cat, Annie, glued to her lap. If she needs to get up, she has to say, “Sorry, Annie…”


One thought on “A Year in the Life of a Book in Progress: Part 2

  1. Ellie P. says:

    Thanks very much, Cecilia, for allowing me this two-part guest post! I’m now very happy to share the links for my last two entries in this series, which I wrote after #13 above. I’m especially proud and happy about #15 which features the COVER of my forthcoming book! Thanks so much for your support!


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