Anyone whose published a book, attempted to publish a book, or is still stubbornly trying are all to familiar with words such as these:
Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit our list at this time.
As someone with 12-16 rejections under their belt with four current queries up in the air, these words have become all to familiar. Yet, the novel in question is one that I wrote so long ago that I’ve written the next two books after it even though I’m only seeking publication now. Why, you ask? I think I can some it up in one word: fear.
When I’d finished the book I estatically went online to research publishing and immediately hit a wall. Publishing a book–it seems–is an open secret, one that everybody knows but you. There were hints and suggestions galore, but nothing that expressly stated the process in layman’s terms. I was quickly overwhelmed and the voice of fear chimed in. After all, if you can’t even figure out how to do it, then why try?
Over the course of my college and post-college years, I wrote the next two novels. I even cracked the BIG SECRET when I bought and read Getting Your Book Published For Dummies (2000) and yet I still hesitated. Fear burned brightly in the back of my mind, making me terrified at the concept of sending out a single query letter. I was scared out of my wits at the very idea of being told no.
Eventually, the desire to see my book published override my fear and I sent off the first four query letters and braced myself. Faster than I thought I had a letter in my hand saying that while my novel sounded interesting, they didn’t feel that it was a good fit for them. So, what happened? Did the four horsemen of the apocalypse burst forth? Did I cry me a river and drown the whole world? No and no. I shrugged my shoulders, pocketed the rejection letter, and moved on.
Don’t get me wrong, being told no isn’t a bushel of roses or a line from Kumbayah–but it isn’t the monster under the bed that I thought it was. I think part of the problem is that writing is something of a people pleasing profession as your success depends on a sufficient number of people liking what you’ve written. And I think that’s where the fear came from.
I’m over that for the most part and doggedly pursuing representation for my novel. Whenever I get miffed or frustrated at each successive no I remember that there are as many literary agents as there are stars in the sky. Sooner or later, someone has to say yes.
Plus, there’s always self publishing.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to them.