I was asked recently about my efforts to find a publisher for my crime novel and it struck me I haven’t updated this part of my blog for a while. This is due to not much of significance happening. I’ve submitted to 17 agents and publishers so far, with mixed results but not the one result I need.
I have noticed a hierarchy in the style of rejections though; they come in several forms.
If you haven’t heard from us in X months you’ve been unlucky…
The most annoying are those that don’t reply at all, merely stating on their reply to the submission, “If you haven’t heard from us within x months, we’re afraid you have been unlucky,” or words to that effect, “don’t contact us and don’t re-submit.” You wait expectantly until past the deadline date in the hope that maybe they are just behind with their work. Of course they’re not and nothing comes.
I appreciate they are probably inundated with drafts to read and accept their claim they’re all given their proper attention, but an acknowledgement of some sort would help allay the nagging doubt that perhaps they have discarded it without reading or even that the e-mail has gone astray .
Second in the hierarchy of disappointment is the brief, curt reply, which seems generic and simply a template with my name and details, inserted. For example, “Thank-you, for sending your work, I couldn’t engage with it.” It seems an odd choice of words but nevertheless, I’ll accept my efforts did nothing for this individual and console myself that Agatha Christie’s work and JK Rowling’s efforts didn’t turn anyone on in the first instance, either. The safe haven we writers retreat to, to mitigate loss of confidence.
When writing and re-writing the thing in the first place I hovered between bouts of thinking it fantastic to deciding it was totally inept, as all writers seem to do. Confidence is a fragile thing.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to witness a friend going through the same emotions until she became a bestselling author; seen and read her original rejections and lived through her confidence swings on subsequent works, that also went on to be best sellers. This helps, I know what to expect and can fight the pessimism, ignore those publishers and agents who don’t want it for whatever reason.
‘It’s my baby but I mustn’t take the rejection personally.’ My mantra of the moment.
Encouragement and considered response
Finally, there are the replies that are considered, encouraging but ultimately frustrating in a nearly but not quite, kind of way. One wrote that whilst there was a lot to admire in the work, they didn’t feel it was for them but that this was a purely subjective opinion and to continue, they were sure I would be successful in finding a publisher. Whilst not ideally what I want, it’s something to cling to, ‘there’s much to admire.’ Great, I shall carry on.
I can’t deny submitting is the most tedious part of the process, every agent or publisher has different guidelines which involve re-writing and editing of synopses, letters and chapter breakdowns. Some want the whole manuscript others various numbers of pages or words. Fonts and formats must be altered to their individual requirements. I like to think I have a copy of every version of every element that could be requested now, so hopefully I will be able to step up the speed of future submissions.
I have four recently submitted and several more outstanding. So I carry on living and waiting in hope.