Thursday, 9 April 2009

Publishing Disappointments

A couple of weeks ago I received two more rejections for the children's novel I have been attempting to have published. One of those rejections included some criticism, which is always a very useful thing to receive, but not necessarily easy to take on board. I always allow myself the rest of the day to sulk about the disappointing news, but after a good sleep I wake up with renewed enthusiasm to push forward yet again.
However, this time I woke full of anger, not at what had been said about my story, instead I was angry with the way the publishing industry seems to be. These days a publishing house expects a prospective author to do pretty much all the work for them. When a writer submits a manuscript it is expected to be accompanied by a covering letter detailing why you think your story fits in with their publishing list, what else you have had published (your c.v.) and any marketing ideas you have. All this is only to take up one page, because editors are very busy people and don't have time to read pages and pages. Fair enough. But then don't expect fully expanded ideas unless you want me to do it in 7 point type with no margins! And the worst is this marketing business. If I was capable of coming up with brilliant marketing ideas, I probably would not be spending my energy writing novels - I would be earning squillions working for an advertising agency. What happened to the marketing team employed by the publishing house? Do they sit around waiting for prospective authors to give them new ideas? And if I had a good idea for marketing my novel, why on earth should I share it with a publishing house who most likely wont even give my novel a second look, let alone publish it, and they get the idea for FREE!!? Not on. I do have ideas for marketing my book, when it's published, and I'll share those ideas with the publishing house that is prepared to support me.
I'm also amazed at how long these publishing houses take to respond to a submission, IF they respond at all. Manners don't seem to exist much any more. One of my last two rejections was in the form of non-response, after over one year of waiting to hear from them. I understand that publishers receive a lot of submission every week. I also know from experience that you don't have to read very many pages to know whether or not the writer is any good at their craft. Manuscripts could be, and probably are, rejected after only having had the first few pages scanned. So why does it take so many months, even a year or more, to get the job done and give the anxious writer an answer? If the publishing house has an overload of ms then employ a freelancer to get through the backlog! Then, give the prospective author something for all their hard effort - a response.
Is it any wonder I resorted to self publishing my patchwork novel, The Maria Challenge Quilt. I resarched it, wrote it, edited it, proofread it, printed it and marketed it all in one year. And I also work almost full time. It may not be a Dickens or and Austen, but people are buying it and reading it, and they are also emailing me to say how much they have enjoyed it.
I'm going to a publishing seminar next week, organised by a woman who self-published. I'll let you know all about it in my next blog.