For decades, Hollywood has romanticized the process of an author getting a book published. Even an I Love Lucy episode featured Lucy being offered a book contract days after she submitted it to one company. True to the sitcom’s signature humor, the acceptance letter was a mistake, and the editor ended up wanting to use her novel as an example of what not to do in a story! Still, it’s just one instance of many inaccurate depictions that make becoming a published author seem all too easy.
It was under this delusion that I began my pursuit to find a publisher when I was just twelve years old, and it didn’t take me long to uncover the truth. If you’ve chosen to go the traditional route—personally, I could never afford to self-publish—, it takes time and persistence to net that coveted acceptance letter. When I speak with schoolchildren, I always show them the three-page list of companies and agencies that I queried while shopping Husband in Hiding. Over the course of two years, my log grew to amass 120 names.
Even if the high pile of rejections is normal and shouldn’t be taken personally, you still don’t want to become complacent. Presentation is key, and the last thing you want is for your book to be rejected simply because you didn’t introduce it well. A couple of months ago, I came face-to-face with this fact. After I received a pretty scathing rejection letter, I realized everything the editor mentioned was in my query. I had to wonder if she even read the sample I submitted.
Instead of merely lamenting over it, I reevaluated my query with an open mind and concluded that it didn’t showcase the plot as well as I wanted it to. Thus, I reworked it to highlight the main points and remove the unnecessary extras. It reminded me that I’d done the same with Husband in Hiding after I’d been shopping it for a while, and I was accepted by a publisher not long after.
On multiple occasions like this, I’ve seen the value in revisiting your own work. Writing in itself is a continual learning process, and you often come to see that what you once thought was a masterpiece could still use some work. Sometimes, it takes harsh criticism to make you realize that, and even if it’s hard to swallow, appreciate the nudge. Never be ashamed to do a little touch-up on your query or manuscript because it will benefit your story in the long run.
Getting a book published is a “marathon, not a sprint,” as the saying goes, and it’s worth it when you reach the finish line. During the long haul, it’s important to stay positive and humble. Do thorough research on every company you contact, especially before you sign an agreement. Always remain professional regardless of the outcome, with the hope of establishing a good reputation when you’re shopping future projects. And if you feel stressed or discouraged from time to time, just remember you can’t form a diamond without a fair amount of pressure.
Forgetting My Way Back to You Release: Twelve Years in the Making
5 thoughts on “The Hidden Pitfalls of Publishing”
Must’ve been a stressful experience receiving a scathing rejection. Glad that you’ve gotten over that though. Wishing you much more success to come!
Thank you so much!