Sunday, 10 April 2016

Thoughts From An Author: About submissions and the 'R' word

I've always been fortunate with my writing. People seem to like it and I've never had a rejection letter. Even if I had, it wouldn't have bothered me because I was never serious about being published.

Well, whoopee for you, some of you are thinking.

But that was in the old days.

I submitted my first manuscript back in 2003 to Whiskey Creek Press because I was fed up with people badgering me about getting into print. I thought if I sent it off and it was rejected, that would be the end of it. I could say I tried and failed. That didn't happen and WCP released my first novel Raven Dove, and my second Lies That Bind. I put it down to luck.

As a test, I submitted my third novel to Hale (Black Horse Westerns), thinking that moving from an e-publisher to an established print publisher would prove that I had been successful thus far because I wasn't playing with the big boys. Again, if they rejected it, I wasn't bothered and I could slip back into the shadows and get on with my real life. However, they offered to accept it if I could reduce the length, which I did (I didn't realise the actual word count was about twice as long as their guidelines when I sent it). That was Long Shadows back in 2009. Since then they've published Echoes Of A Dead Man (2010) and Ghosts Of Bluewater Creek (2012).

Suddenly, I fell out of love with it and it's been about 4 years since I wrote anything. However, recently, I finished something that had been on the back boiler and decided to submit it. At the same time, Hale sold their business to Crowood Press.

It seems that was not the only thing that had changed.

When it came to sending off the manuscript I did everything to stall. I sat with my finger over the send button for the best part of five minutes. I was ridiculously nervous. Something had changed in my psyche. I was worried they'd reject it and I'd be crushed and unable to write another word ever again. After I sent the manuscript, I couldn't stop telling myself that they wouldn't like it, that my writing was rubbish, that my ideas were too far fetched and so on and so on. I was a bit of a wreck! Somewhere along the way, I had lost my happy-go-lucky attitude and got serious.

When the return e-mail arrived I was scared to open it. Again, my finger hovered, this time over the open button. In the end, I think it was my hand shaking and not a conscious decision that made me press the button. Giddy - that's how I felt when I read that they were accepting it.

It's been a strange few weeks. No matter how many people told me not to worry, I couldn't help myself. I felt like a fledgling author again. Somehow, I don't think that will ever change now and deep down, I know, that no matter how many acceptances I have, the first rejection will break me.

So, I take my hat off to the likes of JK Rowling and all those who are brave enough and strong enough to put themselves out there and rise above the fear and disappointment of rejection. Good luck to you.

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