Before I actually wrote my first "real" novel, I secretly thought my own path to publication would be pretty painless and quick. Write book. Phone rings. I'm in. Funny, right? I suspect that kind of dream is at the beginning for a lot of people -- because if we really knew what was in store for us, we'd be fools to actually start this journey.
I've had a novel under consideration at a major publishing house since this spring. Actually, it was more than just "under consideration." One of the editors there liked it a great deal and supplied me with a detailed revision letter. So I rewrote the book and resubmitted. I just heard back, last week, that she's going to pass. She gave me fairly detailed reasons, and they're not unfamiliar to me.
This makes twice now.
Twice that I've submitted a book to a major house, gotten significant interest and oodles of wonderful praise, and a detailed rewrite letter. Only to be rejected in the end. Along the way, I've had access to some wonderful editorial minds—the two editors I've worked most closely with have had books perched in the top ten of the NYT best-seller's list for most of the past three years. One of these books is probably destined to be a classic.
I wasn't truly and really and deeply crushed this time around, when they passed. Truth is, I expected it. The first time -- now that was a killer -- but not so much this time. It stung for a day or so, and then I got into motion.
You know what they say about insanity, how you do the same thing over and over and expect different results? Here's the truth as I see it: I'm very, very close, but something I'm doing isn't working exactly.
My tendency in these situations is to encapsulate all the responsibility and swallow it like a bitter little pill. Here, though, I think it's not 100% about me or my writing. The book industry sucks right now. It's near impossible for a new author to break in. I'm writing middle-grade "boy funny" books (to quote one insider), and the books in my genre that are going at auction are all teen romances (vampires, werewolves, paranormal anything). This is a tough nut to crack.
I'll admit that I've wavered a few times along the way. How do you know when it's time to quit? In a conversation with my (now former) agent after we heard back, he said, "A lot of times, I'll have to tell people, 'Listen, the universe is trying to tell you something. You should listen. Maybe this isn't for you.' But that's not you. I'm not telling you that, I'm just saying that a lot of people never get that message."
I'm not quitting. I'm retooling. But I want to know: what would the universe have to say to convince you to quit?