Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Doesn't (Necessarily) Hurt to Ask

So I've got this story. It's called "A Spirit of Vengeance" and it's a ghost story, and I think it's one of my best. I was thinking about making it my next submission to Torquere, but as I was browsing through their guidelines I saw a bit that says they don't take stories which "contain rape or other gratuitous violence."

That gave me pause because the way the character in "Spirit" became a ghost was by being raped and murdered in a hate crime while his lover was out of town. One might think that this would nix it so far as Torquere's concerned, but that "other" gave me some hope. If what they object to is gratuitous rape, then maybe I still have hope for this, because I don't consider the rape in "Spirit" to be at all gratuitous. And besides, it's all over and done with before the story begins -- it opens with the dead guy's lover leaving the funeral. And I really like this story; it's very deeply emotional and it's gotten some great comments from readers.

I suppose I could've just submitted it and let them decide, but I didn't want word to go around the office about how that Angie chick's too dumb to read guidelines, you know? :P So I sent a query to the editor who worked with me on my first story, described this one and explained why I didn't think the rape was gratuitous, and asked if it were something Torquere might be interested in. She wrote back and said it was, and that I should submit it. Yay!

Now, I wouldn't say it never hurts to ask, because despite what we're told in elementary school, there really are stupid questions. If I'd asked whether they'd like to see my het romance, or my children's adventure book, or my survey of southern California gardens, any of those would've been stupid questions because Torquere doesn't publish anything close to those areas. In this case, though, I had reason to believe that my story might not come under the stated ban, and I made it clear in my letter that I had read their guidelines and was just asking for some clarification. It was a reasonable question from someone who'd been paying attention rather than a shot in the dark from someone who hadn't bothered to do any market research.

And in this case I'm glad I asked.

Epilogue: I submitted the story Monday night, got a receipt acknowledgement yesterday, and a contract offer this morning. O_O I have to say I was completely blown away by how fast this happened. I was expecting it to take a couple of weeks at least to hear back but this was, like, instant. They are really on the ball over there and the more I work with Torquere the more I want to keep working with them.



Ello - Ellen Oh said...

OK - I feel like I know your dog so well from seeing your avatar in all the same places I frequent - and so I came over here to lurk and then decided to delurk to say "Congrats!" on your publishing for book and story. That's awesome!

Angie said...

Ello -- LOL! Thanks! I've seen you around too which means we probably have a lot of the same interests. :)


Charles Gramlich said...

That's great news. Congrats. I think you played it just right in the query because it "did" show that you had paid attention to their needs and were considering their wishes.

Well done. Let us know when it comes out.

Angie said...

Charles -- thanks, I'll definitely announce when it goes up. :)

I think you played it just right in the query because it "did" show that you had paid attention to their needs and were considering their wishes.

Thanks again, that's exactly what I was hoping. I don't know how many times I've heard an editor grouching about how many writers send them manuscripts or queries which are very clearly unsuitable, like, by lightyears. I thought for a while about whether to do this and if so then how, chewing on a few virtual fingernails in the process. I'm all for following instructions but it seemed I had a legitimate crack that my story might slip through and I'm glad I was right.


Bernita said...

Smart and sensible.

Angie said...

Bernita -- thanks. :)


KeVin K. said...

Always ask. Sometimes the answer is 'no' -- but your reputation as a professional is intact.

(Of course, this is advice is easy for me to follow ... I write primarily media tie-in, which means I usually submit pitches describing stories I would write if given permission.)

Congratulations on your sale. Apparently you taking the time to inquire first alerted them to pounce on it the moment it arrived.

Angie said...

KeVin -- Apparently you taking the time to inquire first alerted them to pounce on it the moment it arrived.

That's quite possible. A different editor is working with me on this story, but my previous editor, the person I wrote to about it, might well have mentioned it to her so that makes sense. [ponder/nod] However it worked, it was still pretty incredible how fast it went. I've waited months for an editor to get back to me on a short story. I prefer it this way, I think. ;)

And thanks! This is two, now, so at least I know I'm not a one-trick-pony writer. Whew!


Travis Erwin said...

Way to go. You, my friend are on a roll. Keep it going.

Angie said...

Travis -- thanks! [hug] Working on it! :)


writtenwyrdd said...

Congrats! My thought on the dilemma was that it seems reasonable that, if the rape occurred before the story, then it wasn't an issue with their guidelines. I'd have submitted the story if that were the way you wrote it. But your choice was a wiser one.

Angie said...

WW -- thanks. :D

And yeah, it probably would've been fine. In fact, since they accepted it, at this point we know it would've been fine. I guess I just have a pretty strong case of newkiditis, you know? I'm doing a lot of things I've never done before and I'm being incredibly careful of my professional rep. Probably moreso than I really need to be, but then I've always been a bit cautious. [wry smile]


Nancy Beck said...

CONGRATS!! ::doin' the Snoopy dance::

Wow, that was a fast turnaround - and nicely so. :-)


Angie said...

Nancy -- thanks! :D

And wasn't that incredible?! [does the Snoopy dance with you] It's a great bunch, seriously. If you ever write gay erotica, I highly recommend submitting to them.