We all know the feeling. You apply for a job you think is so perfect and are at the mercy of constantly checking an empty inbox.
I feel like I’ve applied for 25 perfect jobs and with only 4 rejections to show, I wonder, did I send everything into outer space?
Before I submitted my book to potential publishers, I read about the dreadful waiting period and I thought, “eh, I’ll be totally cool about it. I’m busy enough that I’m not going to obsessively check my inbox.”
I was a little off the mark on that one. Wait, who am I kidding? I couldn’t even see the mark!
It’s been 3 months since I clicked send for my first query to a publisher—followed by another 24 submissions—and there is not a thing I can do about it. For those who don’t know, most publishers suggest NOT following up. The squeaky wheel does not get oiled; it gets thrown away. You should hear back from most, eventually, but in the meantime, you are at their mercy. I keep going back to this idea: the writing process was entirely enjoyable for me. But more importantly, it was within my control.
According to my mom, the Obamas, the Trumps, the Clintons and Alec Baldwin have all published books recently. Why is it so easy for them? Rhetorical question.
I am fully aware that checking my e-mail forty billion times a day is only wearing me down more, but I can’t seem to stop. It’s like a baker not baking bread.
Of course my writer friends remind me that three months of waiting is NOTHING. Time is a stagnant river in the publishing world. And the fact that I’ve only received 4 rejections out of 25 is GOOD NEWS.
But I am seriously lacking motivation to send out more queries or doing any new writing. I mean, I am they type of person that squeezes every last drop out of my toothpaste tube, so throwing in the towel after 25 submissions seems out of character.
The thing is, I have scoured Writer’s Market 2017 and every book on my shelf for publishers within my niche of travel memoir nonfiction that allow me—as an unagented writer—to query them directly. My initial list had about 60 potential publishers. After more research, my list dwindled to 25 that accept electronic submissions. There are 6 others I could query via snail mail, but I just feel like that may be more hassle than it’s worth in my case (with the closest post office being 45 miles away with limited hours!). I am at the end of the list, or at least the end of my rope.
I do wonder if I should switch my approach. There hasn’t been any constructive feedback from the 4 rejections I’ve received, so I hesitate to make any big query, proposal or manuscript changes. I could start querying agents. Agents can query bigger publishing houses (like Penguin Random House) and take a cut of your sales in the long run. You impress the agent, the agent impresses the publisher. But it would require massive research to come up with a list of agents in my niche and a little revamping on my proposal. Plus, I am told there is more waiting to hear from the agent, who is waiting to hear from the publisher. Plus, plus, my book subject is so specific, would Random House and bigger publishers really be interested in it? Is the middle man really worth it for me?
I could also self publish. I can upload my book to Amazon and have it on sale as an ebook in minutes. I know this is an option. It would obviously accomplish my dream of having my book published. The barrier for me is that there is no hand-holding through the process. Publishing through a publisher requires you to do a lot of marketing on your own, but self publishing requires 10x more. Plus (this may be the fourth time I’ve used “plus” in this post, don’t judge), there’s the whole production and business side of things. I’ve learned so much through this publishing attempt that my brain is full; I’m not sure I have the gumption to clog it more. The ego part of self publishing—for me—is that I am old school. Being published in the traditional sense is a goal I cannot let go of … yet. Call it stubborn.
So I continue to wait and spring ahead!