What you may not know about me....
On the eve of my 33rd birthday (Yes, I was young once) I received my 100th rejection letter. It wasn’t quite the birthday present I wanted, and while I was discouraged, I didn’t give up. After all, I had read the Stephen King received 120 rejections on Carrie. Heck, I was doing good. That was a 100 on 3 books. I still had a ways to go.
This was back in the day when writers diligently waited for the new edition of Writers’ Digest so we could mark off where we’d submit. And they were paper submissions, too. When determined writers like myself would spend a hundred dollars a month on postage, paper, ink and supplies. Wading through ‘no’ after ‘no’ in hopes of that one ‘yes’.
The internet was still an infant, email submissions were unheard of, and e-books? Really? Never would happen, never would people read off a screen instead of paper. That was the mindset.
It was the days when self publishing costs thousands of dollars. The stigma of being self published was a different ballgame. It was a negative thing and not only did you pay to see your book in print, very few, if any would read it.
So we trudged on with the goal being to land that big deal with a huge house and get that awesome advance.
But where does it end? At what point would I consider myself pathetic? I made a decision that when I received enough rejection letters where I could place a letter on each step of the Empire State Building, I would quit. After all, that was well over 1,000 rejections. I had to get that big Random House break before that, right?
Keep in mind, I wasn’t just submitting one novel, I started writing a lot, I had many books. Plus poems, shorts stories, screenplays. I submitted like an addict.
The day I opened my 404th rejection, I got my first ‘yes’. I was thrilled. I danced a jig, arms in the air, screaming, “I’m published, I’m published.’
It was a small house, no advance but a chance. I always said, if someone gave me a chance I’d run with it.
I was married, raising four kids, working as a security monitor while my husband was a waiter. This was the break. He was so happy, he sold a guitar to throw me a party. God, I feel guilty over that. How foolishly misled we were.
I got a book out of it, but it wasn’t edited and printed in a shoddy homemade paperback that fell apart half way through the book. My first royalty check was 1.39
I trudged on. Believing in my work. I’ll get that break. Someone will want to read me. But, I kept getting rejected.
I was quickly reaching the top of the Empire State Building.
The day I received rejection number 1,172 … I stopped counting. I still submitted, I still got rejected, but I stopped counting. Seriously, no kidding, no lie, 1,172 rejections. How pathetic.
I still believed. Then a ray of hope … I sent an unsolicited query (Totally frowned upon) to Penguin about my book, Sister Perpetua is an Alien. They wrote back asking for the first chapter. Then they wanted the first three chapters. Then 50% of the book. After weeks, months, they wanted to read the entire thing, Good God, this was it! And then …. They rejected it.
At that point, I quit. I didn’t stop writing. No way, no how, it’s my passion, but I stopped trying to get published.
Over a thousand rejections. In my mind I was no less than a stupid starry eyed dreamer whose work would never get read. I didn’t have it.
From that moment on I resolved myself to the fact that the stories in my head would go only as far as a Kinko’s bound manuscript and the reading eyes of a few faithful friends.
I was done. For years, too. I quit.
And then … things changed. The world of publishing changed.
Kindle emerged. No longer was it called self publishing, but Indie publishing. Sweet! A new title. A great concept. A new chance. Another avenue in which to place dreams.
Ironically it was a new angle on an old pipe dream. Hence, starting a rerun of the vicious cycle. A repeat of the same ups and downs … but only this time, in a different way.
Tomorrow … Part 2.