An acceptance at last
Writers get used to rejections. We get so used to them, we start to expect them. At least I do.
I’ve been pitching novels since 2000 and freelance nonfiction articles much longer than that. I keep a tracking chart of every query I send out to agents and publishers on each piece. As the rejection letters, post cards and emails roll in, I enter each one on my chart. It’s a process of elimination thing — one down, 900 to go. These days most of the rejections — if you even get one — are in emails. There also are many nonrejection rejections, which I label as “presumed dead” on my tracking chart after getting no response for a few weeks.
When I see that subject line “re: Query …,” I know it’s another elimination to check off my chart.
Until one day last month. I was on deadline for a newspaper article, so when I saw the telltale subject line, I didn’t open it right away. No need to rush to read another form rejection when I had an article to finish — one that would actually be published and generate dinero.
After I had made my deadline, I finally opened the email. The first sentence just did not compute: “I’ve read your manuscript and I’d love to offer you a publishing contract.” Details about the royalties, price of author’s copies and timing followed.
I read it several times to be sure. Then I put on my Reeboks, slung my water canteen over my shoulder and took a walk. While I walked, I called my sister to tell her the good news:
My novel, The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players, will be published in spring 2016 by Rocking Horse Publishing, a small press based in St. Louis. There’s a guide to the book and the characters under the Fiction section at right.
This is my 2010 National Novel Writing Month novel that I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. Since completing the first draft in December 2010, I’ve tweaked and revised and polished and proofed. I’ve had beta readers give suggestions and comments and sent queries to 67 agents and 12 publishers.
Far be it from me to promise success if you just keep at it and keep trying. Many writers, maybe most, never, ever get published no matter how hard they try. Maybe the book isn’t good or maybe it’s great, maybe publishers are afraid to take a chance on a book that may have a limited market. Maybe they want to avoid a hot-button topic (remember The Help, reportedly rejected by more than 60 agents?). Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw, not querying the right agent or publisher at the right time.
In any case, I’m glad I stuck with it and kept sending out those queries.