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The Agony but not the Ecstasy

The Agony and Non Ecstasy of Publishing 

      I recently came as close as I ever have in ten years to having one of my novels accepted by a legitimate publisher. I sent it off, (the entire novel rather than the usual first few chapters) and heard back within a couple of months. They said they liked it and would be interested in looking at it again if I were to make a few changes. It wasn’t anything to do with the story but about the narrative voice. Essentially they wanted it more immediate.  I told them it would take a while as I have a pretty busy life with two jobs, parenthood etc. They said they were okay with that.

I spent two months working hard on it. I updated the voice and made lots of small changes and deletions and even injected a small sub-plot. I thought it much better than it was and hoped they would agree. (I never mentioned it to anyone as I’m kind of superstitious about these things). 
I sent it back.

A month went by. Nothing. Another couple of weeks passed. Today I received a reply. It took me ten hours to bring myself to open the email. They liked the changes... yet decided that it wasn’t for them after all.

Wow. Thanks!

Now I know how John Kennedy Toole felt. His journey was very similar. So close yet rejected after giving them what they wanted. (Though I was dealing with a smaller press, which I won’t name.) When you invest your heart and creative soul into a project and have a little hook dangle in front of you like that, it can give you hope.

It’s a very frustrating experience. I’m pretty pissed off I guess. I finished writing the damn thing six years ago and can’t get a look in. Well, I got a look in this time. Be careful what you wish for!

To be honest, I didn’t get my hopes up too much because there’s mostly rejection in this game... you can’t afford to get excited. I stopped doing that years ago. After all, tell me another occupation where you spend a decade working with no result? Yes the novels are written so that is something unto itself. And no I won’t self-publish because for me personally, I would feel like I failed.

Yes I should get back on the horse, but I’ve been doing that for so long the poor thing’s about to croak from old age.

*2021 Update. Tired of their games and the every shrinking market, especially with the diversity driven craze which has pushed me even further to the side, I decided to go my own way in 2020.

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  1. Thanks for sharing. Good reality check for us all. Shame they didn't indicate 'no promises' when they asked for revisions. If you ate happy with your revision then you have gained something but I reckon never agree to changes that compromises your voice. You have great things to offer - keep the faith.

    1. Thank you Susan. I altered the structure as they suggested, which I was happy to do but not the story, characters or dialouge. As you say, good reality check. Dont change a thing.

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  3. Sorry to hear one of your manuscripts was rejected, but I am happy to hear that you got close. Being close means a publishing deal might come soon.

    1. Cheers Graham. Yes that's a positive angle to take. Can never please everyone and they had a team of editors. Guess thats positive too.

    2. I was thinking, if you ever decided to self-published it, at least you have confirmation that it is of publishable standard.

  4. Oh, Anthony, so sorry, my dear friend. There's no rhyme or reason to the game. It's maddening. It's not a reflection on your talents either. Keep going. Keep going, and then keep going.
    Love ya.

    1. Thank you dear. Its very frustrating. At least I got a personal reply. That in itself is an achievement these days.
      Back to the drawing board. Wow, it's got a lot of dust on it.


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