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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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If I Had a Box Just For Wishes

Hello Ms Lerner
Thank you for offering to help people online. I am in the middle of writing a book on WW1 with a view to releasing before the 100th anniversary of WW1 (1914). Is it too early to approach a publisher now or should I wait till I’m finished?
thanks and regards
NAME WITHHELD
I am so psyched to get this question. It’s a really good question and no one has asked it in three spectacular years of blogging. Timing, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is everything. Publishers plan their lists 12-18 months in advance. If a book has a hook, a peg, a bonafide reason to be published in a certain month, publishers need to know about it well in advance. An anniversary, birthday, holiday, or season gives a publisher a real peg to hang its publicity on. The media is always looking for those pegs.
It’s January, publish your diet books. It’s February, publish your relationship books. It’s March: kiss me, I’m Irish. April is poetry month. May: Mother’s Day. June: Dads and Grads! Having a book on the 100th anniversary of WWI is way more enticing than a book publishing on the 103rd anniversary. Pegging your book to a major birthday or anniversary is good. But remember, the book needs to go into production about a year before it publishes (of course, electronic publishing changes all that). But if you’re going the traditional route, you need to be able to deliver a finished manuscript 9-12 months in advance of the anniversary.
Personally, I’m going to peg my new screenplay on national family dysfunction month, which fortunately is every month. What you got, baby?

31 Responses

  1. Good to see death is still selling. Never thought it wouldn’t. Sex and death–what else is there? And good to see dead writers are doing well, too.

    Oh fuckity fuckity, I’m just green with envy. But to get more seriously to the meat of the matter, I too am working on a book containing at least a smattering of death and observant of anniversaries. I had been putting it off then snapped a few months ago that now is the time. It’s a rewrite of a screenplay I wrote a few years ago, about a battle in the American Civil War. Well, look at your calendars, history buffs, and you will see that we are presently passing through the 150th anniversary of that event. So as I said, now’s the time and in fact I shall skitter off and get back to it before bedtime, which is such an annoying interruption to my day (or night), but both inevitable and unavoidable.

  2. The Bavarian Duchess turned Austrian Empress is all about Oktoberfest. King Ludwig (Sisi’s uncle) invented the fucking thing, after all.

    The problem is, timeliness evades me. Always has. Like, tomorrow is December and I’m just now getting around to blogging about the Munich Brauhaus scene.

  3. At the moment I have serenity so I am gonna bask.

  4. This post gives me inspiration for a stronger query letter:one of my almost-completed WIPs involves a play that will celebrate its150th anniversary in 18 months.

    Thank you!

  5. I was the only boy in the history of my camp to ever have to change bunks. My bunkmates didn’t like me, and gladly moved my Ouija Board to the bunk next door, who liked me a lot. I can still hear their shouts, “Ouija! Ouija!” I guess I was a weird kid. As soon as I changed bunks, though, we got along fine and they started picking on someone else. My novel has a camp for adults in it and I’ll be very happy if it comes out next summer…(I should go to my closet where the O.B. is buried and ask.)

  6. So true this. I have a WWI novel sending out signals in my head. It has started to whine.
    But my current nearly-finished project won’t have a peg to hang on if Italy goes down the sink. Although don’t people turn to books in recession?

  7. I have a completed WWI novel set in Ireland 1916. Sent out a few queries, didn’t hear any encouraging words. Would love to send it again. So maybe I will.

  8. I’ve only just begun my WIP but I’m not worried. As you pointed out, bad parents and desperate children happen every day.

  9. A woman,a soldier, a child, an affair. Secunderabad 1917.

  10. I just have to publish before all the Baby Boomers die.

  11. If your stories involve clear water and warm sand, should they come out when much of the world is gray and cold? When?

  12. A family struggles with a lifetime of confused love; three POVs.

  13. Apparently, I wrote about the wrong war at this time. And the wrong country. There are communists. Maybe I’ll tout it as a Finnish Dr. Zhivago with no doctors, no Juri and no Lara. I do have a Jussi and Anna though. The next book, a spin off of the first takes place fully in 1917. That one will be too early. Batting zero here.

  14. I am that person who arrives too early everywhere I go. Yesterday, I was at the airport 4 hours before my flight. If we’re meeting for lunch, I’ll be there a half hour early, so if you’re 5 minutes late you will feel LATE!

    As Chronic Early Girl, this timing/early-thing makes my month. For this, I thank you. In advance. 😉

  15. Is there a holiday for Catholics and Jews who become friends as a result of mutual guilt, ravaged childhoods, and self-loathing?

  16. What month are the outliers published?

    • February and August. (January okay too, but a little trickier because all the publicity pitching happens in Nov/Dec when people are overwhelmed with holiday bullshit.)

  17. How boring would the world be without dysfunctional families? We’d probably go out in search of them if we weren’t part of one. And you’re right — every month is family games month.

  18. I have a friend (really, it’s not me) who is writing about a cataclysmic event at the 2012 Olympics in London. She’s still revising but is essentially done. I’ve read it and it’s good (for what that’s worth! You don’t know me from Adam)

    Because of the timeline she’s thinking she has no option but to self-publish. Or try a small publisher.

    Betsy, thoughts?

  19. I had written an outline for a book to fly on the heels of the popularity of The Happiness Project and the media blitz around Finland being the happiest country on earth – kind of a literary Pioneer Woman, but the novel took a lot longer than planned. Maybe I’ll have time to hone it since I have to make a decision within the next half hour if I am willing to move back across the ocean. (I work better under pressure)

  20. A thriller. Hitchcock could make my skin fizz.

  21. I’m going with commercial fiction. A beach read. D-Day plays a large part. June 2014 might be nice.

  22. I’m just aiming to get my book out before the world explodes or a giant freak wave drowns the East Coast.

  23. Lit slits? Really? Come on now.

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