Sunday, 14 August 2011

Submissions, rejections. The usual merry-go-round?

Back to the book, and writing, because that's what I set this blog up for. I shall try not to digress too much. Well, maybe sometimes. But today I shall be disciplined.

I shall tell you what's been happening - and where I'll go from here. And I'm not going to whinge - because it achieves nothing.

The Book (Over the Hill as it is now) was submitted to three publishers about a month ago. Yes, I know I didn't tell you. Because it takes ages for replies to come, and blogging 'still waiting' for week after week is boring for all of us. And because chewing one's nails is something that should only be done in private.

I chose the publishers carefully - but, I must admit, with limited optimism. Why? Because Paul, my mentor, had told me that this book would have found a publisher without a problem - ten years ago; but not now. But, he added, it's an ideal book to self-publish. I have no reason to disbelieve him (his advice has always been thoughtful and constructive). But - well, sending to traditional outlets was worth a try, if only to prove him right. So I targeted three publishers, carefully, but kept my dreams realistic. And I knew I wasn't going to trawl round every publisher in the Writers and Artists Handbook.

Two rejections have arrived. The first came late on a Friday afternoon, and was - well - terse. So what does that tell me? That they were tired and working their way down the submissions without really thinking? Possibly. That my submission was rubbish - also possible. It was the only submission that needed full non-fiction proposal, and it's years since I've written one. And I suspect, once the synopsis and everything else was written, I approached it with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Although it still looks okay to me, I suspect a keen-eyed editor spotted my reluctance to engage with the minutiae of that proposal.

And the second arrived, also on a Friday, but worded with such understanding that it felt as if the writer was genuinely sorry to reject my efforts. Her final words were 'don't give up.' For all I know, the rejection email may have been cut and pasted. But it felt kinder. As if my feelings might be important even if my submission was, well, rubbish. Or maybe it wasn't total rubbish, but just not sparkling, amazing, right for them. The rejection was less bruising.

And the third - I'm still waiting.

Yes, there were a lurches of disappointment. I wouldn't be human if there weren't. But it's time to take it from here. To investigate self-publishing options. To get this book out myself.

It is, I confess, daunting. I've bought books on self-publishing (where else would I begin?), and they all give slightly different advice. The technological details terrify me. I have drifted into a website or two, and run away to eat chocolate. But, give me time - and I'll get there. And please - if anyone has any ideas how to get past this 'so scary I'll look at it tomorrow' hurdle, then I'd be grateful.


  1. There are so many different options of self-publishing that you can get lost in the where to begin. Without previous experience, and if this is a book that you intend being a standalone (rather than one of a series you are writing) I would suggest that you look at user friendly places such as Createspace (which belongs to Amazon). Many places offer packages which guide you through the process, and to get started, I would suggest that is the best way forward. There are as many different approaches as there are people and books recommending them, more than enough to make your head spin. Having someone else take the strain while you bring out the book, and as you go along you can assess if you would do it differently next time, makes a lot of sense to me.

  2. Thank you - that's great advice. I've been looking at Createspace (and I've got Catherine Ryan Howard's book - which is fab for someone as ignorant as I am) but it still feels very daunting!

    Am also keeping a comprehensive notebook about the process - in the hope that this will ground me should I decide to do this again.

  3. Hi Jo. I just gave you a friendly award. Visit my blog to claim it.


    you're in good company Jo!

    All power to yer elbow lass!!

    with love ...Lynn

  5. purrowling in from Downunder to say - I know the feeling and a virtual hug. If it is any help I am reliably informed that agents at least do not suggest trying elsewhere or not giving up unless they believe the book has merit. Do not give up.
    Google is being difficult about letting me comment properly! Cat

  6. Lynn - thanks. I shall just nip over and see how many wonderful writers have wept into their cocoa as rejections plop into their inboxes!

    And Cat - no idea why google makes life so hard for you. And - I don't feel as if self-publishing this book is giving up. Given that it's part memoir, part travelogue, it doesn't fit on a regulation shelf. And these are the sort of books that can do well when they are self-published. (See what I did there - reframed this as positive? That, I'm told, is the way to do it!)