Publisher says no

Posted on November 18, 2010 (Subscribe to Blog)

I'm not getting much blogging done with all this November novel writing! (Hmm, that means I probably have my priorities in the right order.) Anyway, a few random things to mention...

I finally heard back from a big publisher, HarperCollins Children's Books, that was reviewing Island of Fog. The short version is that they said no thanks. But the slightly longer version is more interesting. My agent sent part of the manuscript to the publisher back on August 9th, along with part of another manuscript by Brian Clopper (a teacher/author who you might remember from a previous post):

Per our conversation last week, WBMT submits the following properties to you:

*IRVING WISHBUTTON* written by Brian Clopper
*ISLAND OF FOG* written by Keith Robinson

Both properties are for the young adult audience and have received favorable reviews; notably, from Piers Anthony. Irving Wishbutton is the first of four projected books; Island of Fog is the first of an already completed trilogy. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

The editor seemed interested in the first few chapters of both manuscripts, and requested the full novels, saying that it would be a six-week review process. So, six weeks later, my agent contacted the editor and asked for an answer. The editor's answer was extremely annoying:

I can't seem to find these manuscripts anywhere. Would you mind terribly resending them? Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience!

My agent was furious, but resent the manuscripts a day or so later, on October 12th. After another six-week wait, the editor got back to the agent with this answer:

Thank you so much for sending ISLAND OF FOG and IRVING WISHBUTTON our way, and for your patience as we read and considered them. While there was much to be admired about both manuscripts, my supervisor and I ultimately came to the conclusion that they just aren't right for our list at this time.

Thank you again – we wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect homes for these projects.

So that's that. My agent has already moved on to the next publisher. It's a shame he can't send to many publishers at once, but that's not very polite. Of course, nor is making us wait six weeks TWICE, but there you go.

I'm not discouraged. If anything, I find it encouraging that a major publisher requested the full manuscripts instead of just saying "no" to the initial query. Both Brian and I are hopeful that our books will find a home one day. We just have to be patient.

Meanwhile, I'm now around the 35,000-word mark for my November novel, Bubbleworld (working title). Getting to 50,000 won't be a problem; the only question is how long the novel will actually be when finished, and whether I will finish it by the end of November. To me, writing 50,000 words isn't the challenge. Finishing the novel is the challenge. So if the novel ends up at 60,000 words or more, then I have a bigger challenge ahead of me! At the moment, though, I have a feeling that this novel will be pretty close to the 50-60K mark.

And finally, Piers Anthony read and reviewed Mountain of Whispers in his October 2010 newsletter. He said this:

I read MOUNTAIN OF WHISPERS by Keith Robinson. The first novel in this series was ISLAND OF FOG, a good solid children's novel that adults should also like, featuring eight twelve year old children who were developing the ability to change into other creatures. The sequel was LABYRINTH OF FIRE, where the children completed their abilities in hard-hitting action. This is the third, and it too is compelling. There are serious problem on the world to which they have been taken, and they must seek answers on the dread Mountain of Whispers. It turns out that the whispers are because there is a constant wind blowing into the mountain. How can this be? They explore, though warned that there is a terrible demon therein. That turns out to be just the beginning, and the framework expands. Mysteries are finally resolved. There is also the hint of the beginning of a romance; Abigail likes protagonist Hal, and starts doing flirtatious things like holding his hand, and he is embarrassed but nothing loath. That's as far as it goes; this is a children's novel, remember. I recommend this as I did the other two: read them with your children.

Still haven't bought a copy? WHY NOT?? ;-) Signed copies are available worldwide through this website. If you're in the USA you can also get a copy at (including a Kindle version), or at Barnes & Noble, or (for locals) at Books Neverending. If you're in the UK, you can also get a copy from

Comment by MING on Thursday, November 18, 2010...

Never mind about HarperCollins, the best things come to people who wait patiently! Good luck, Keith!

Comment by NIGEL ROWE on Friday, November 19, 2010...

Yesterday's hope is today's rejection is tomorrow's regret - of the publisher, that is.

Comment by BRIAN B. on Monday, November 22, 2010...

Wow, very surprised. Seems like a winner for any publisher. I guess the book world is really tough! Keep on truckin'.

Comment by JOE ARKSON on Monday, December 6, 2010...

Maybe the publisher knows rubbish when he sees it....he he he...

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Monday, December 6, 2010...

Thanks, Ming, Nigel and Brian. And you too, Joe... I think. :-)

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