Life is full of rejection. Big ones and little ones a like. The type that stay, linger forever in the back of your mind. The sort that are fleeting, in and out so quickly it hardly resonates. I never thought a book could break my heart. But, like with everything about this trek through the publishing web, I should really stop being surprised when it goes to a whole new level.
One of my readers, Deshipley, gave me sound advice a few days ago. She said, when the rejection comes–based on your book, after a professional has read it–it hurts. She was right, totally correct…it does hurt. It’s pounds of hurt and disappointment and self doubt and fear and so many other emotions I can’t pinpoint them.
I’ve taken a lot of no’s with this story. I’m so tired of that word. I can sit here and say it’s a matter of taste, I can reason that it’s not my fault or the book’s fault per say. I can say all of that and sometimes I can even believe it, but other times, I’m sorry, but I simply can’t buy it. Today…I’m having a pity party for one.
I submitted my book to a small publishing house. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know. The sample contract was extremely limiting–no print books, little control over my edited manuscript, 50% profit after the royalties of eBook sales–which we know is already a lowly sum to begin with. The gains were little, all things considered and weighed evenly. But still, I queried. And with that single try, I managed to get a full read.
The publishing house I went after was tiny, a start up only a few months old. Maybe I did it simply because there is an innate desire in me to have the backing of a real publisher, no matter the size of their muscle. Maybe that desire is something I cannot quash, no matter how promising Indieland is, and maybe that’s what it’s always been about. You always want most what you can’t have.
The editor got back to me so quickly initially, and she had such nice things to say out of the gate after reading the first 30 pages. I actually had the gull to be hopeful despite logically knowing better. I apologize for not posting about this full read on the blog–but I wasn’t sure what to say…
This morning I received the following rejection:
Thank you for your submission to <name removed>. Unfortunately, this story does not meet our publication needs at this time. The beginning of the story felt a little awkward, and as I moved further into the manuscript, the story didn’t really catch and keep my interest.
That’s a really sad way to start the day. It broke my heart just a little bit, just like Deshiply promised it would. All with all rejections, rebound is inevitable, I’m certain, but still…it stings.
I think the hurt mostly pours from the very personal message in the body of the e-mail. And this is why…
I tried, of that I’m positive, to write a book that was gripping. But, it never to be your stock women’s fiction novel– not in the way commercial fiction grips you, not in your expectations of speed. It’s unconventional, I know that, but to tell the Chamberland’s story, there was simply no other way. It had to have the pace of real life, it was why I didn’t write “chapters” but rather “months”. I designed the book to feel that way…a slow build to a moment of utter grief, and the length and effort it takes to heal from that–it all happens by inches, across measures of time and life, not chapters. It was never supposed to be a fast burn. I wanted the readers to meet Jenna, to love her and understand her so completely that come what may, they’d have a richer, more profound, understanding of who she was.
If that doesn’t resonate from the pages of the story…then I’m simply lost. I thank God that I have an editor on board who will help me refine what I’ve written. But, I understand today that I’m at a huge crossroads with everything….and I’m not really sure what happens next…