This past weekend I finished my most recent edit of Moonshadow’s Guardian, a YA fantasy originally written as a Nanowrimo novel. I’ve already edited this novel several times–it’s faced the most drastic changes of anything I’ve ever edited–and am mostly finished my query letter and synopsis. As I told my best friend the other day, it’s time to send this novel out to publishers.
And then she asked me the question: “Are you nervous?
I might have stared into the phone like it was an alien for a while, because here’s the thing: I’m not nervous. I already know some of the publishers I send my novel to will reject it. In fact, I know most of them will reject it. That’s part of the gig. They might all reject it for all I know.
And eventually I will be nervous. Once it’s been two or three months since I heard from anyone, when part of my brain inevitably starts hoping I haven’t heard back because my novel’s reached the finalist round, gotten all the way to the head editor of the imprint I’m submitting to or the second read from an editor I mailed it to directly. Eventually I’ll start to feel disappointed every time I open my inbox to find nothing from the publishers I’ve submitted to.
But for now I’m not nervous, and here’s why: I have put everything I can into this book at this point in my life. It’s gone through several drafts and been partially or completely critiqued by several different people. Before this most recent edit I sent it to one of the harshest critique partners I’ve ever had and the manuscript was returned with hardly any notes. And this edit was the fastest edit I’ve ever done, finished in almost exactly one month.
I have done everything I could to make this book the best book I can create, and I am confident it will be successful. Rejections are not necessarily reflections of the quality of my book. And if it does get rejected by every publisher on my list I know I have the dedication and resourcefulness needed to make self publishing work. I will find the money necessary for professional editing, formatting, swag I can hand out at events, whatever I need to make my career work. There is nothing I will not do to make this book a success. Except maybe sell my soul, because I need that for the next book.
If you’re nervous about submitting your book, you have every right to be, but remember this: a rejection from a publisher, even your favourite publisher, does not mean you wrote a bad book. A rejection with criticism even less so. If an editor takes the time to send specific feedback on your work it means they cared about it enough to remember it separately from the dozens of manuscripts they read in a month.
If you are willing to do whatever it takes your book will eventually become successful. Probably not a best seller, but something you can be proud of, something that sells enough copies to at least shut those irritating naysayers up, something that gets readers interested in your next book.
There are some exceptions to this–some stories really aren’t supposed to do anything other than teach us something about ourselves or help us get through a crisis–but if you truly believe in your novel you can almost always find a way to make it happen.
Anyway, I should get back to working on that query letter.