Their submission guidelines are somewhat different than standard guidelines. They want an entire hard copy of the manuscript with a cover letter, not a query letter. This is almost unheard of for such a publisher. And unlike many other publishers who accept novel-length fiction, they do not accept simultaneous submissions.
This was the worst submission I'd done in a long time. Printing out almost 300 pages isn't bad... unless your printer starts sputtering, then runs out of ink, then starts sputtering again. I finally managed to get it all printed and sent off, wondering all the while if it was worth the trouble. I wouldn't even had thought about sending it out in its entirety (or even exclusive) if it wasn't for a big name. This was in June of 2009.
Two months later, I received a letter from DAW letting me know The Influence had passed the first reading. (The DAW process is First Reading, Second Reading, Editorial Review.) I can't begin to tell you the excitement that I felt. I proudly displayed my letter on the fridge for all my beer loving buddies to enjoy and moved on to the art of waiting.
The letter said it would take awhile for a second review. They were severely backed up and knowing how slow publishing is anyway, I knew it would be more than "awhile". I just didn't realize to what extent.
Here's what I've learned about the DAW process along the way. I have not had the pleasure of conversing with anyone who has had a manuscript accepted by them. But they are still releasing books so they have to be accepting them somewhere. In any case, I did speak to a couple of other writers who had also passed the first reading, some who had been waiting longer than I had, others who had pulled their submission from them because of the wait time, and a couple who had never heard from follow-ups. The question came up about whether they accepted ALL submissions as passing the first reading. I have since found out that they do not. I have actually spoken to a couple of writers who have had manuscripts rejected from the start. So any question about whether DAW is just appeasing people only to make them wait is false. I have yet to hear from anyone who has passed a second reading, though. Reports about this are scattered. I've asked in various forums and sites about this in order to report it to readers but no one has yet to come forward to say whether or not they have been rejected or passed that stage. This really isn't a surprise. Most of the reports are disgruntled at having to wait for so long in the first place that many writers simply do not follow-up and they move on to the next market or quit altogether.
I've followed up twice at six month intervals. I've been polite, I've listed credits obtained since last follow up, and indicated that I am still interested in pursuing a contract with them. The first time, I received a response only a week after I sent my follow-up. It was a short hand written note from Peter Stampfel, the submissions editor, acknowledging my letter and apologizing that it was taking so long. The second follow-up was sent the last week of August (about a month ago). Last weekend, I sent DAW an email about no response to that follow-up and stated that I had no problem with exclusivity as long as communication remained open. Yesterday, I received a response. Peter Stampfel responded with another short hand written note, thanking me for keeping in touch and once again apologizing that the process was taking so long.
It has been over a year now but communication is still open so I'm being patient. (Being impatient never got me anywhere.) Is it worth it? Ask me again when I get the final verdict. :)
Next follow-up will be in February. Until then, I concentrate on other projects and continue to submit. Thanks for taking this journey with me.
Peace and patience,