I listened to a cell phone message on September 30th from Mr. Peter Joseph, editor with Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. Nauseous, pulse racing, I was filled with a ridiculous sense of hope equaled only by dread. I would return the call and discover I’d won a free book from a forgotten online survey I’d filled out two years ago. A wrong number. An old college friend’s boyfriend trying to track her down. A dozen scenarios went through my head. I’m fairly good at preparing for the let down.
I’ve been writing for many years: writing as a hobby since college, writing novels for six, mysteries for four, always writing with the hazy hope of publication. Over the past four years I have received a dozen or so requests for partial manuscripts, two requests for a full look. Rejections, all of them. Most agents don’t even bother to respond to email queries due to the enormous number of submissions they receive. The odds are not good.
Prior to September 30th my experience with the publishing world was gleaned through Publishers Marketplace (what I scammed from the free pages), Poets and Writer’s Magazine, Writer’s Digest and countless books. Many things kept me going through the rejections. I hope to share them on this blog. I plan to share the next year in hopes that someone who is considering giving up something that makes them happy, but feels hopelessly out of reach, might take heart and sit back down at the computer for yet another go at it. I’m convinced – persistence is key. It was for me.
The message was left by a friendly male voice stating that he worked for Thomas Dunne books, requesting that I call at my earliest convenience. I grabbed pen and paper, locked myself in a quiet room and called. Mr. Joseph asked if I had submitted the book, The Territory, to the 2010 Hillerman mystery competition, and if I had placed the book with a publisher. I had not, and was informed I had won the prize and publication with St. Martins. That phone call has led to an amazing two months that I will detail over the next few weeks for those who may be interested in the early stages of publishing a first novel. There have been some surprises along the way that I hope will help others with a similar goal. More later on that.
I hope you’ll share your own writing experiences on this blog as well. This can be a fairly lonely hobby, and friends and family don’t always understand the obsession. I’m fortunate to have a husband and two daughters who have allowed me the guilt-free freedom to obsess and write (and the guilt free is huge), knowing full well that publication might never happen. That makes for two key issues. Guilt-Free Persistence. Easier said than done with a full time job and an active family. Publication has always been the end goal, but never a condition. I write because I love to write. How about you?