Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rejection After Publication

Getting a book published is hard work. It can take a loooong time, perhaps numerous rejections, but then, after all that hard work - when you get that call - it is the greatest feeling in the world. Finally! Validation for all that hard work. And now you've done it. You climbed the mountain and can stake a claim in the name of you, published author! It's over, those days of rejection letters and letdown supreme and you never, ever have to go back to them again.


Nope. Sorry. I hate to be the one to shoot down that notion, but the fact is that authors can get rejected, even after reaching that mega-important milestone - publication.

Right now, I'm waiting on a submission - chewing my nails, checking my email obsessively, all that fun stuff that we impatient writers do while we're waiting for replies. Yes, it went directly to my editor and yes, it will probably get her attention before an unknown author's manuscript - but there is absolutely no certainty that it will be accepted, either. It still has to pass muster and therein lies the rub.

So, for anyone reading this who dreams of publication, but hasn't quite gotten there, let me assure you - the stress doesn't end with The Call. If anything, it gets worse.

The Call is great, don't get me wrong. It is the culmination of a writer's dreams (for the most part) and I know I thought, "I am HERE!" when I sold my first book. I cracked the secret code, learned the secret handshake. I was a member of the Club.

And to a certain extent, it is true. But, before the Call, that was the only pressure. Now, that's not to simplify it at all, because it's as nervewracking as anything to finish a manuscript, struggle (if you're like me) through the synopsis (it took me 400 pages to the tell this story! Now I have to tell it in less than 5???) and query (it took me 400 pages to the tell this story! Now I have to squish it into two paragraphs?!?!) and get queries in the mail. You stalk the mailman, your heart almost explodes from beating so fast when the SASEs come, but then you realize that those SASEs usually don't have good news. At first, it's Dear Author (ugh), then, if you're lucky, it's Dear Author's Name - woo hoo, personalized rejection. Still a no, but at least you have a NAME now!

But that's it. That's the pressure. After publication, you have the additional pressure of writing something better than the last book. Different than the last book. Will sell better than the last book. And that's in addition to the pressure of query, synopsis, manuscript... ugh...

True, once you've an in with a publishing house, chances are you only need a bare-bones synopsis, because you'll probably submit an entire manuscript instead of only a partial. Someday, you might only need to submit a proposal (I haven't quite gotten there yet...) and I didn't have to write a query either - just emailed my editor to let her know I had a new book.

But there is no guarantee it won't be rejected either and that would suck worse than the rejections I had before being published. In the beginning, you develop that thick skin and (at least in my case) expect rejections. Once you've been published, it comes as a little bit of a shock when you are rejected - at least for me - and it sucks. It sucks no matter what, actually. Just on a different level.

But on the other hand, the acceptance of a third or fourth or fifth book feels just as wonderful as it did with the first.

No comments: