BackTracker Update: Feedback from the Big Five

So it's been five months now since Mr. Agent started submitting my novel to the Big Five publishers and all of their science fiction imprints. Only rejections thus far, but there's been some good feedback as well. Since most of my short stories have survived a couple dozen rejections each prior to publication, I figure I'm about a quarter of the way toward finding a good home for BackTracker. Fingers crossed, anyway!


Here are a few of the editors’ positive remarks:

I really like Milo's writing and I must admit that I’m a sucker for main characters who doubt themselves and struggle with losing their sanity.

Very enjoyable and has a good pace to it, and plenty of twists and turns to keep the pages turning fast.

Strong writing style. A really intriguing premise. Novels featuring time travel or alternate versions of reality can be very appealing.

I enjoyed the quirkiness of the worldbuilding, which felt almost akin to Douglas Adams in places. And the opening scene -- in which Muldoon saves a man on the brink of suicide, using time travel -- is a very effective hook into the narrative.

And here are a few of the editors’ negative remarks:

Time-travel can be a little finicky in books, and having the narrative jump between time periods as well as between alternate realities just didn’t work for me.

I didn’t feel it was outstanding enough to carve a space for it on our list. This sort of hard-to-categorize novel is very challenging to make work really well.

I did find it hard to connect emotionally with the protagonist for some reason. Harry Muldoon is written very deliberately in the 'noir detective' mode. But I wondered if the mix of noir and SF didn't quite work for me and affected my ability to really identify with Harry's goals?

I always get a little hung up on time travel for some reason, and BACKTRACKER was no different for me. In the end, I just wasn’t caught up in the story, and I’m afraid it’s not the right project for me.

If submitting my short fiction has taught me anything, it's this: All it takes is one editor to like my work as much as I do. And that editor is out there, somewhere. The key is keeping so busy in the interim that I almost forget I'm waiting for an acceptance letter. And never giving up, never surrendering, along the way.
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