Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)
TITLE: Dear Author...
By Michael Joshua
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My wife was on the phone. “Hi, honey. You got a couple letters today.”
“Can you tell if they’re self-addressed?”
“Two of them are, but one is from XYZ Publishing, it’s a very fat envelope. It might be good news!! That’s why I called.”
Grrrr! “Probably not. It probably just means they’re returning my Proposal and sample chapters.”
“I can’t swear to it, but I bet if they wanted to represent me, they’d call… I’ll be home in a little bit.”
Sure enough, I got home and opened the envelope. Nothing but my own stuff back. A big red “NO” written across the first page.
It’s hard to take this rejection – day after day. What do they want? I followed their guidelines to the letter, and they can’t even take the time to include a note? I thought this was the perfect publisher for my book.
I know they’re all busy. Agents reading queries, proposals, partials and fulls. Then they have to present the project to their editorial staff or other agents so that the whole group can weigh in. I know they’re busy, these publishers. But, doggone it, so am I! I re-wrote my proposal to fit their list of criteria, included a bunch of junk like a marketing plan and bio – as if they even care. They don’t want a bio unless I have a bunch of letters after my name. It also helps if I can find all the buyers for them, so they can tell a publisher they won’t even have to do any work to get my book noticed in the marketplace. Why does it feel like I do all this work, only for someone else to wield the real power?
Writing, revising, editing, polishing. For what? For some intern to mark a big “NO” on my proposal?
I walked over to the drawer and added the envelope to the pile. It kept growing, form letters that wished me “the best of luck in seeking publication elsewhere” to the stupid little postcard that was addressed “Dear Author.” Grrr!!! Why, if they insist that I send a personalized query letter, can they dismiss me with a “Dear Author” postcard?
I switched back and forth daily, are they busy or just arrogant?
I walked over to my laptop and signed on to check my email. Another “thanks, but no thanks” email. I moved it into the “Book Rejections” folder, then searched the “Query Submissions” folder to find the matching query email and moved it there too. One less outstanding query to hold out hope. At least my email folders were organized.
I scrolled my mouse pointer to the “MS Req and Sent” folder and looked at the one, lonely email. An agent requested my full manuscript within 24 hours of my sending her the query. I sent it off and now, here we are, three and one-half months later, no word. Grrr!!!! The forum that I follow says it’s appropriate to “nudge” at the 90-day mark. So, I did. I sent a nice little email asking the agent to confirm receipt of the manuscript and perhaps offer a little insight. That was 27 days ago. Nothing but silence.
I went back to the forum and asked the question, “What now?”
I got 15 replies – each with one common thread – “wait.”
Then I got a ‘Private Message” from one of the moderators. “Have you started a new project?” she wrote.
“Yes, but I can’t concentrate. I thought I’d try a suspense novel, it’s moving along.”
“Just keep writing,” she told me, “it’s important to force yourself to move forward.”
“Ha!” I thought. “Whatever you say.”
I opened the suspense draft on my laptop and entered the scene with my characters. I really liked how it was coming together. But I worried about running out of ideas for later chapters. I had only completed the spiritual nonfiction manuscript so far, and was completely unsure of myself in fiction. What if it was no good at all? It takes a long time to write 80,000 words – good or bad.
I clicked the ‘open’ button and looked for the nonfiction manuscript. As I re-read it – I remembered how much my heart was touched by the Scriptures when I placed the words on the pages.
It is a good book. Let God handle the heavy lifting.
Back to suspense… 66,000 more words.
I sighed and continued writing.
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