It started so hopefully.
Carefully researched, carefully targeted approaches to carefully selected agents – literally just a handful of the ones I really thought… really wanted…
After the seventh form rejection, with no full requests, I had to consider two alternative but equally plausible explanations.
One, they were reading the letter and sample chapters and were so uninspired they didn’t think I warranted a personalised reply, let alone a request for more.
Two, they weren’t reading them, not properly, or not at all.
I may be an insecure writer but I am not ready to accept option one.
So then I saw invitations on social media for authors to submit directly to this new (to me) kind of publisher: digital first. The reasoning here being that since they don’t do print editions, or only print-on-demand, or only after the success of the eBook, they can afford to publish many more titles than trad publishers/imprints. No advance, but supposedly you get help with the marketing and a decent slice of the profits.
I did my due diligence and sorted the rip-off-artists/hybrid publishers from the (reasonably) respectable-looking firms, which in at least two cases were actually divisions/imprints of big trad publishing groups.
I looked at what they published, carefully prepared my pitch and sent off my full manuscript with the promise that this time, they WOULD read it.
And got pretty-much-form rejections.
Now, I realise that my book(s) do not fit snugly into the illustration-of-a-woman-against-a-backdrop-of-two-up-two-down-terraces-with-Spitfires-in-the-sky/illustration-of-a-woman-walking-away-from-us-with-the-White-Cliffs-of-Dover/Auschwitz-in-the-background-(Spitfires-optional) market, but in another way, they kind of could. Enough, as I intimated in my carefully worded query letters, to warrant a discussion about cross-genre marketing possibilities – or at least a considered/considerate reply, you’d think (well, I thought; maybe you’re smarter).
And then what I thought was this…
Because I realised that I had painted myself into the proverbial corner. How could I now go back to querying agents, having taken it upon myself to do their job and submit to publishers directly, even if only a couple of the twinsets-and-Spitfires ones? You can’t write to someone and say I think publishers will be excited about this novel series, and by the way I’ve already been rejected by x, y and z.
So there you go. I always wondered what would finally make me take the plunge and decide to self-publish. Was it going to be 10 form rejections from literary agents? 20? 50?
No. Turns out it was seven and an assumed/probable rejection. Plus two-and-a-probable from digital first publishers. And the strong suspicion that no one was even reading the letters that had taken me hours, sometimes days, to write, let alone the stuff that had taken me years.
Which isn’t right, is it? Just like those assumed and probable rejections from the ones who say they’re so busy they can’t guarantee they’ll get back to you at all.
Anyway. Looks like the next time I write anything here I'll be complaining about how hard it is to get started in self-publishing.
(But not like that – you’re not getting my money as well as all the years of effort. It's time for a bit of DIY.)
I've been writing for as long as I can remember (I think my first letter was a P). I got a degree writing about other people's writing and ever since then I've earned a living writing commercially, one way or another. But I never stopped writing and refining my own stuff. I just didn't do anything with it, until now.