No one could ever accuse me of giving up easily.
Having worked through my entire list of agents by the holidays, I was ready to throw in the towel with the stream of rejections. Then I received one that gave me a different perspective. Unlike the usual agent rejections that said nothing more specific than “not right for me/us”, this agent took the time to write: “You write well, and I enjoyed reading this—but I’m afraid that this is not quite right for us. Still, I hope you will continue writing and sending out your work. If you haven’t done so already, you may wish to look at The Jeff Herman Guide to Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents – there, you should be able to find someone who’s a better fit for your work.”
Yes it was a rejection, but an encouraging one. If my writing was awful or even mediocre, she wouldn’t have bothered. I read her message to mean my writing was worthy of publishing, but the top agents look for the potential blockbusters because that’s what they can sell most easily to the large publishing houses. And mine, with its very good writing, is worthy of publication but probably will never make the NY Times Bestseller list. I then spoke with a published writer friend of mine (who has never had an agent) who said there are more publishers than I realize that take unagented work – and that they are more likely to consider well-written work that isn’t blockbuster material but is good enough (in some cases better) to be out there on the bookstore shelves and do respectably.
I’ve been so focused on getting a major publisher and writing a bestseller, I lost sight of the real reasons I write:
I write because I love to write.
I write because I have a story I want to share.
I write because some messages are most effectively shared in a story.
I write to explore my own feelings.
I write because I write and have written since I could first hold a pencil.
And so over the weekend I began my search for smaller publishing houses who accept unagented submissions. Most of them clearly state it takes them up to six months to respond. I was going to self-publish if I hadn’t found an agent by the end of this month.
No matter what the proponents of self publishing say, most self-published books are not respected in the literary world. Some break through, but they are the exceptions.
So now I’m sitting back and thinking about what I really want for my writing. Any writer would be lying if he/she said they didn’t want to make money with their writing. So I won’t say that. But more than that, I crave credibility. The publishing world’s equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Legitimacy. Respect.
And I’ve realized I’m a long way from giving up on that pursuit. I’m going to send out queries and manuscripts to the publishers who appear to be a good fit, based on what they say and what they have published previously. And then I’ll wait.
And meanwhile, I’ll get to work on book #3, because I am a writer, and I write because I love to write.