Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rejection Letters #PNIWritingChallenge Day 9

Today's topic asks if I've ever received a rejection letter. The answer to this, dear readers, is oh yes. I've received a great many of them.

In a previous post, My Publishing Journey, I shared what it was like trying to get my first book, The Color of Thunder, published. Talk about rejection letters. They came back just as quickly as I sent them out. I was hopeful each and every time I cautiously ripped one open, but no one was interested in publishing Faith's story.

I was incredibly discouraged. I was ready to throw in the towel. And then I got this letter from a literary agent in New York.

So ... if you read the letter, you probably noticed a couple of things. One - the book was called Shades of Gray back then. This was years before E.L. James published her world wide phenomenon with the same title. (Totally different books, hers and mine, by the way.)

Another thing -  this first manuscript was 947 pages long! That was double spaced, but Lord have mercy! I guess it's because I'd been working on it for several years at this point. I had so much going on with it - way too much, honestly. It lacked focus. 

Also, I wrote this novel in a very descriptive voice - much more so than any other novel I've ever written. While this agent remarks on the fact that I'd done that well, he also states that the story might benefit from a better balance between density and economy. 

Now Mark Sullivan saw the whole manuscript, but about 98% of those who sent me a rejection slip only saw my query letter - which consisted of one sheet of typewritten paper. Some of them asked for the first 1 - 3 chapters, maybe three of them asked for the entire manuscript.  I can't remember how much it cost me not only to send this monster to New York, but I also paid for return postage as well. In hindsight, I'm wondering if it was a good thing (at least financially) not more agents and/or publishers asked to see the novel in its entirety.

This letter from Mark Sullivan was a very good thing for me. I didn't send any more query letters after receiving it. As a matter of fact, I put the manuscript away. Not for a few weeks. Not even for a few months. I put it away for more than ten years. After reading this letter, I knew that my story had merit. I also knew it was going to take a whole lot of work to get it where it needed to be before I tried to get it published again. 

When this came in the mail, I had a child who was not quite three. Reading it made me realize that I was not in the right place in time to be focusing my energy on rebuilding my novel. It also gave me a reassurance I hadn't ever had before about the importance of getting it published. It would happen. I wasn't sure when or how, but I knew it would be published.

I was right. It was published. It took a while, but it became available to the reading public on December 18, 2012. In book form, it turned out to be 372 pages long. Sometimes I think about getting in touch with Mark Sullivan again to let him know that I finally found my focus. 

Now that I've become an indie author and published three more novels - goodbye rejection letters -  I've learned a few important things. A Color of Thunder is now going through one more edit. I'm hoping to have a revised edition of the book out sometime in 2017. When that's done, I'll finally feel as though I've accomplished what I set out to do all those years ago, and the promise I made myself will finally be fulfilled.