Many people say writing a book is like childbirth. It’s a ton of work, but it’s a labor of love. That completed manuscript is a beautiful part of you that you want to send out into the world just like child who represents your hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Well, I say they’re only partly correct. If writing a book is like procreation, then the actual writing part is the sex. It’s fun. It feels good. And when you’re done, you want to do it again.
The getting published part, now that’s when you feel like your legs are in the stirrups and you have to force the Titanic through an ear canal. It seems impossible. It’s ridiculously painful. Yet, millions of people have published and will continue to do so every day. It’s worth it, or so I hear. I haven’t actually gotten to that step. I haven’t been able to deliver my beautiful, precious package. I’ve been in the literary stirrups a couple of times, but then someone with authority always comes along, nails my knees shut, and sends me on my way.
My birthing coach, I mean my agent, continues to encourage me, but after two years of this agony, I’m about to burst.
The latest false labor was the most heartbreaking. I went through six months of revisions with one of the top publishers in the world only to be rejected by their editorial board. At first, I was shocked, crushed, devastated. I mean, I’ve been carrying around this bundle of joy for so long, I just want to send it out into the world for everyone to see. But, after crying a few tears while eating everything off the Wendy’s value menu, I stroked my swollen prose and decided my baby was too good for them anyway. I want to find the right place to publish my work, a publishing house that will cherish it as much as I do. Some place that will dress up my manuscript and pimp it out just like those parents on Toddlers and Tiaras. And when I find that house, I know the delivery will be smooth, painless, and oh so rewarding…and if not, I’m asking for drugs in the contract.
Okay, so let’s say you’re at the point in your writing career when someone has recognized your talent. You have an agent. As the above points out, there’s still a lot more work to do. What you have to remember during this time of expectancy is that you can never stop writing. While your agent is pushing your work to various publishers, you need to keep honing your craft. It’s a great feeling when a publisher likes your voice, asks what else you’ve written and you can then send them your other work.
I wrote four books before I landed my agent and since then I’ve written three more. In my opinion my writing keeps getting better and better. It was my seventh book that actually caught the attention of that major publisher I refer to at the beginning of this piece.
So my advice is that once you have an agent, let him/her do their job and worry about the publishing aspect. I try not to let myself get stressed out over it. It’ll happen when it happens.
It’s also encouraging to read about the long list of wildly popular books that were originally rejected. Here’s a quick summary taken from www.entertainment.howstuffworks.com :
M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker – rejected 21 times
Carrie by Stephen King – rejected 30 times
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – rejected 26 times
Dune by Frank Herbert – rejected 23 times
And these are just a few. If I can one day be counted with these literary giants, well then it’s worth the current pain…and false alarms…and panting…and wait a minute…where are those drugs?