I’M SAD | My Manuscript Didn’t Find a Home

Posted by on Jul 2, 2008 in Writing | 16 comments

When I received the message from my agent last night, I knew I wouldn’t be in for good news this morning. She wanted to touch base to let me know where we are with submissions.

Where are we? Nowhere. Thirty seven — count them, three tens and a seven — editor rejections. My agent has come to the end of her efforts with this novel. And I can now add 37 more rejections to the long list I’ve racked up.

This is irrational (what else would I be at this point?), but I feel like I have to start from scratch now, that the past decade’s worth of work meant nothing, that I have to re-think my way of writing novels. Or something. I know this is a lot of baloney, but this is how I feel.

Worse yet, I feel like the past year’s work on the current first draft has been a huge waste of time. I feel like since the editors didn’t vibe with the previous novel (even though they agree that I can write), they won’t like this one either because it’s the same style with similar themes, pacing, and etcetera etcetera etcetera blah blah blah fooey.

Frankly, I’m disappointed by the editors’ short-sightedness. So my novel doesn’t fit all the formulas, so what?

I’ll get up tomorrow; I’ll write; I’ll finish the current first draft even if it feels like a waste of time, because it will bug me if I don’t, and I’m just about done anyhow. Then, I’ll read through a previous novel that’s been sitting around in revised form for years, and I’ll send it to my agent because she’s still my agent, after all, and she’s interested in reading whatever I have to send her.

I like my agent, that much I can say. I’m not pleased with editors at the moment, but I like my agent.

But still…I feel like I’m starting from ground zero and it will be a few days before that bummeriness (not a word, I know, but I don’t care) filters out of my system. Oh, I don’t know. I’m rambling, and I’m not going to edit this post for coherency like I usually do. My manuscript deserves publication, and that’s my final word on the matter, full stop.

Now I’ll have dessert for dinner, watch some asinine show on the telly, and read until as late as I like.

16 Comments

  1. My heart feels a little broken reading this. I’m so sorry. You seem to be handling it the exact way I hope I would: dessert for dinner, and not giving up on the current ms. I’m sorry.

  2. Thanks, Nova. At least I’m up this morning, with coffee in hand. Going to meet a writing buddy for a session later this morning. Going to get my five pages in…Life goes on. But still.

  3. What can I say, Lisa, except to say that I know how you feel. It can be incredibly frustrating to know that you have written something that stands out from the pack, and yet, because of reasons totally unrelated to the quality of the work, it is turned away at the gate. (Well, I guess since you have an agent, yours was rejected in the waiting room, the antechamber, if you will.)

    What we do in the face of rejection says everything about our character and our motivations for writing in the first place. And a lot comes down to perspective. In the current atmosphere, I have actually begun to take the industry’s rejections as a bit of a compliment.

    If you’re doing this for the right reasons, and you believe in your novel, then set it on the shelf for now. Honestly, who knows what the industry will be like in a few years. If your novel is timeless, as are all great novels, then you never know. And by that, I don’t mean that the gatekeepers might let you in (you shouldn’t give too much stock to their opinions anyway), but that technology is going places.

    Hang in there.

  4. I like your perspective, Robert. I like that you’re hopeful about the changing technologies and the future of the publishing biz. It’s good for me to hear this because I tend towards traditionalism, have to admit.

    Well, back to the writing…!

  5. I’m sorry to hear that Lisa. Markets do change and things change and editors move around and if your writing was good enough to land you an agent, then you’re on your way. I really hated it when someone told me that their friend’s first novel didn’t sell, but the next one did because really, who wants to hear that? But I’ve heard if more and more and my first novel didn’t sell either. It went out to only 10 editors though and then my then agent wanted me to do a revision. For now it’s just sitting around and we’re going with a different manuscript, but I have hopes for the other(s) too. Wasn’t it here on this blog that I read about the writer whose first novel was number four and now numbers one, two and three, will be two, three and four? Keep writing, keep eating dessert, and keep the faith.

  6. Thanks, Joelle. I have a couple of agented friends here in Portland whose novels didn’t find a home either. They simply keep writing, as I am doing today. Talking to Adina, she remarked that it’s a tough market out there for the debut novel. Just a fact of life.

    I’m rooting for yours!

  7. Only 37 rejections, at one time I kept mine in a small brief case which slowly became the carrying case for my laptop. I now use a “banker’s box” and I hope in visioning my rejection box you find a reason to smile.

    Many of us published or non-published work daily to take the right path through the maze of “what do editors want”.

    Just remember that Margaret Mitchell begin her book a decade before it found a home. I have no doubt the editor who first rejected her wished many times that he had a second chance to publish “Gone with the Wind”. The book was published in June of 1936 and by October of 1936 had sold one million copies. It does happen.

    Keep writing, keep submitting and I raise my glass of wine to your continued productivity and determination as you are a great writer.

    Annie O.

  8. Lis,

    I’m sorry about the disappointing news. I can relate to a smaller degree–as I haven’t invested the time, effort, and creative blood into 4 novels like you have.
    Chin up girl. I know you’re a first class writer. Eventually everyone will.

    -griz

  9. You did make me laugh, cedar, and thank you for that! I’ve raised a couple of pints to myself (with friends) this afternoon, so I’m doing okay about now…:-)

    Grizzy-girl, you rock, and I’ll throw my chin right on out there!

  10. aaaarrrrggggh! sorry the agent hasn’t peddled this one for you.

    Sometimes, I think about starting a small publishing house. One with excellent instincts (me) that works directly with writers (like you) and gets the work finished and out there. This would also “free” up the writer to go on and write the next one.

    I’ll ponder that. OK, more coffee for everyone.

  11. Oh, Lisa.

    I’m so sorry about your heartbreak.

    But this is the life you’ve chosen, and if it isn’t a manuscript being dissed, it’s a slasher of a review that puts an author in tears. Or a booksigning where nobody shows up. Or dismal sales.

    On the other hand, it’s also that tuning fork in your heart when you’ve perfectly captured an emotional moment on the page. It’s writing “the end” and meaning it, stamping the package and sending it off then celebrating. It’s finally getting that publishing contract. It’s getting the first real book in the mail from your editor. It’s calling yourself an author for the first time, instead of a writer.

    It’s worth working toward, despite the obstacles and heartbreaks.

    Because, I guess, we can’t do much else.

    Many, many times, the first book written is not the first book published, so keep at it.

    It’s the journey, after all, not the destination.

    Love,
    Liz.

  12. oh, yes, start an independent small press and I’ll be your first author! I’ve been thinking about small presses this week…

    Hi Liz, thank you so much. And you’re so right: I chose this life, and sometimes I think I’m crazy, but as I tell friends: I can’t help myself. However, not caring as much about getting published would be helpful, wouldn’t it? 🙂

  13. Oh I am so sorry. That really sucks. I have just begun with writing but I think the only thing that works is just keep sending things out there and once it leaves your hands…let it go….and go to the next revision…the next project…just keep going. Release your hold on expectations and fall in love with the process of writing.

  14. Thanks, Meander. Letting go of expectations is the bigger lesson I need to learn, I think…

  15. Dear Lisa, You know, this is just such tough news to get and my heart goes out to you. First novels are just a really hard sell. This isn’t the end, obviously, of things for you, but very much a stop along the way. It’s one of the harder ones, is all. And although you might think now that the second book isn’t going to meet any kinder fate than the first has so far, I can tell that isn’t going to stop you from writing it because it sounds like it’s exactly the book you want to write. And so you should write it. That’s the thing you have control over, and it seems very smart that that’s what you’re focusing on. Much love, Lily

  16. Thank you, Bloglily. It’s so true that what matters and counts in my life is the writing itself. It grounds me, comforts me. Always comes back to that.

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