A few days ago I received my first rejection. Well, I say “my first”, which is not technically true. I have sent the first chapters and synopsis of another novel to several agents who have declined to ask for a full manuscript. This was the first rejection I received after a publisher had asked for the full.
I thought I would be gutted. I had not expected an email from the publisher yet (as they said it would take four weeks for feedback and it had only been three) so when I saw the email in my inbox, my heart did a little jump. I was travelling for work and alone in the office, so no one around who could see my disappointment.
I wasn’t as nervous as I expected when I opened the email. It started out nice enough, extolling my writing style, complimenting me on the unique nature of the story. All gratifying to read, but I felt a “but” coming a mile away. And sure enough: “but unfortunately…”. The reasons why they passed up the opportunity to publish were (in my opinion) relatively minor, but it’s their company, so who am I to question their decision?
My first reaction was one of indifference, and – dare I say – also a bit of relief. The indifference I could understand: I was just in shock and the tears would come later. But why did I feel relief? Surely it was hugely disappointing that a traditional publisher didn’t want my book? How could that be a good thing?
It’s now been a few days and I still don’t feel any different. I don’t feel insulted, nor do I feel more upset than I did on first finding out it wasn’t going to be published. Of course I think it’s too bad it won’t get published (yet), but I’m not devastated. Maybe it was just not meant to be. Maybe it needs a few tweaks, or a whole overhaul, or it was just not the right time, the right place.
I also keep thinking that maybe traditional publishing is not for me. While I understand that a publishing company needs to make money – and is, therefore, looking for commercially viable books – my books never seem to sit firmly in one genre. There is always an added twist which pushes it out of one genre, but not quite into another. But I love that about my books. My beta readers – and also my NWS readers – always love those twists, so I know it’s not bad writing which I should correct. It’s just the way my brain works, but it does mean that my books are less likely to be published traditionally.
And that is fine. Maybe this rejection was a blessing in disguise. Maybe if the publisher had liked my book a bit more they would have suggested changes I wouldn’t have been happy with. Who knows? I’m just happy that I haven’t been reduced to a pile of self-loathing because one published doesn’t want to publish my book. I would not have been this cool and collected a couple of years ago.
I’m still happy that I queried this book. I’m happy that I put myself out there, no matter what the end result was. Writing is all about growth. As I said, a couple of years a rejection would have devastated me, now I just shrug. But then, a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of sending my book to a publisher. I put myself out there. I didn’t get a publishing deal (bit unrealistic to expect that from your first submission anyway), but I’m so much further than before. And in a few years’ time I may actually publish something. Whether traditionally or self-published who knows?
In the mean time, back to the drawing board. I still have my report from the New Writers Scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association to read through, which will only improve my book. And I have another novel outlined, which is begging for me to write it. Busy times ahead. It can only get better from here.