So, I’ve decided to veer this blog in a different direction. Just a Thought was meant to showcase my short stories, and I have to admit I probably had too high hopes for it. And though I love writing short stories – it’s like opening a window to a different world each time – I have found myself too occupied with We all Fall Down, my book. And the business of collecting a pile of rejection letters. Well, two so far. I don’t know what I imagined would happen when I submitted my book off to publishers – three so far. Okay, who am I kidding. I imagined them scrambling to get me to sign a book deal with more of my writing requested. Well, that did not go as imagined.
The first publisher I sent my manuscript off to was Pan Macmillan. Why not aim high on the first go, I thought. I must say they were very good to keeping to deadlines and sent me my first rejection letter 8 weeks later. BUT it wasn’t that bad. Actually, it was quite encouraging. They thought We all Fall Down/Take My Heart ( still deciding on the perfect title) was well written and the concept interesting.
Here’s part of what they had to say:
Ultimately though, most reviewers felt that it would not fit within Pan Macmillan’s publishing programme. This is not to say that the story does not have any value – in fact it could potentially be engaging to the intended readership, but unfortunately it is not something we would consider.In light of this and after the completion of our review process, we have unfortunately decided that we will have to turn down your proposed manuscript for publication. Please note that this is of course the view of one publishing house and there are many others who we think would consider your manuscript for publication as they have larger lists and teams with more of a focus on fiction.
So it was off to the next publisher. Jacana Media was recommended. It has been more than 3 months since I sent off the required 3 chapters, synopsis and query letter, and I have yet to receive a reply.
Now, a new trend in submitting manuscripts has been Twitter Pitching. In 140 characters or less, you can pitch your book to a literary agent or publishing house. Yes, 140 characters! So, having just entered the Twittersphere, I decided to give it a try. What a surprise when my tweet, out of hundreds worldwide, was chosen. After doing my happy jiggle, I sent off my package to the literary agency based in the UK that also boasts a few creative writing courses. Hopeful, nervous, anxious and fearful – all at the same time, I waited only a few days before I received an email from the junior literary agent who’d read my submission. While she liked the concept of the book, she felt the manuscript needed development.
WELL! It took a while to recover from that. It needed development! It’s hard to take criticism at the best of times and I realised I don’t take it too well. “Grow a thick, skin. You have to, if you are a writer.” Advice from my writer friends, easy to say but damn difficult to do. Anyway, after that email, I have had a barrage of mails inviting me to sign up for the agency’s creative writing courses. Needless to say, I have blocked those mails. I don’t know if I should be offended or not. Was my manuscript so hideous, that I need to do a writing course? Or was that their intention all along, to pitch their writing course? Whatever it was, I will not enter another one of those pitch parties again.
JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Agatha Christie, Judy Blume, Audrey Niffenegger, Yann Martell, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson may be bestselling authors, but they too have collected a pile of rejection letters. While I can’t in all modesty compare myself to these greats, I am consoled. I will not allow a person sitting in a cubicle decide my writing career. Heck! I will take advice but I will not let rejection deter my hopes. So send me a subtle message or not!
There are some books out there that should never have been published. But that’s just my opinion. The fact that they have, means that someone thought they had value. The fact that they line the shelves of book stores and book shelves mean that there is an audience for that book/idea/story/style/genre.
We All Fall Down or Take My Heart, or whatever title I’m going to decide on, will have an audience. Positive affirmations from now on.
While I haven’t tried all publishing houses yet (just the three so far) I am also considering self publishing. Or perhaps a small publishing house with a brilliant vision. Well, for now, I’m checking out Amazon Kindle. A friend has just debuted her autobiographical novel, Umbilicus using Amazon, e-books and print-on-demand.
Watch this space for more on Umbilicus.
WE ALL FALL DOWN/TAKE MY HEART will be published, come hell or high water. Just how will be the question I intend to find the solution to soon. I invite you to join me on this journey, if you dare!
An excerpt of the book can be found here.
COMING SOON: To self publish or not to… No other choice for new SA writers?