Last week, I heard from a friend of mine. We've kind of had mirror lives--our first novels came out around the same time, we sent our second ones to our publishers around the same time, we got rejected with requests to rewrite and resubmit--you know the drill. My friend, who'd worked very hard to rework her novel and has a much better book now than before, found out after 11 weeks that her publisher declined to publish it. I feel for her, particularly since I'm not as fast as she is doing rewrites, not to mention my crazy summer, and am on the verge of resubmitting my reworked novel. I'm confident my friend will move forward, but her experience has made me take a step back from my own life and think.
What will I do if my publisher declines to publish my second book?
First off, there's a reason I don't have a wireless keyboard (imagine keyboards sailing across the room to hit the far wall). My initial reactions to disappointment are sometimes unpredictable.
I know I'm not a bestselling author. I know having a published novel under your belt does NOT guarantee future publication. I've met really amazing authors with 6 or 7 published novels who still get the dreaded "no, thank you" from their publisher at times.
But, I also know I have certain obligations.
One, to myself. I'm a writer. What I love is to create stories and share them with others. Two, I have a modest fan base--actual living, breathing people who are anxiously awaiting the next installment of this series. I've heard it from them and bookstore owners alike. Granted, they aren't in the thousands, but they exist. And they matter to me. Three, I have an obligation to show my children that just because our dreams aren't easy doesn't mean we can give up. I read a great quote recently: Don't follow your dreams. Chase them!
But none of that changes the basic, economic fact that my publisher may not feel my book is strong enough to warrant their taking a risk on it. In fact, publishing my first book may have taught them I'm not as good a risk as they thought. As a writer, I have a distinct detachment from that side of the coin, and I don't know where they stand. Which is probably for the best.
The question remains: what will I do? I have options. I can try other publishers. I can search for an agent. I can self publish. In fact, in the next couple of months several of my writing friends are self publishing really incredible books. That will mean it will be harder to get my book in stores, but it will also mean I will have the book out to the public sooner than expected.
I really don't believe there's an easy answer here. Each process has its positive and negative sides. Shopping the book around could take the extra time my readers need to forget they're anticipating the next book. I need to evaluate my position, my goals, and see where I stand. What will be best for me, in both the short and long term? The other issue I have is that this is the continuation of a series, and how many publishers would be willing to pick up a series on the second book?
Decision, decisions. But at least I have options. :)
I have so many friends who are traditionally published, and they've all gone through the ups and downs of having subsequent manuscripts rejected, for the sin of not selling enough. Most of them have just accepted their fates, but there are a lot of writers who have embraced the digital revolution, and who are selling more and earning more than ever, thanks to having no "better" option. I personally feel like it comes down to ego--in the past, if you self-pubbed, you were obviously an egomaniac who couldn't accept cogent feedback from the seven dozen agents/publishers who'd turned you down, and being "vetted" by a publisher was the ultimate badge of honor in our art. Not anymore.
My first book is out now, and I originally said I was just going indie with it because it's not my best work (it's my first book, after all!), and that I'd still look for an agent/publisher for my second book, which is worlds better. Now? I'm reading so many author success stories from indie folks, I think I will just go indie first.
Being traditionally published is great, if it works out for you. Having known authors on both sides of the fence, I'm probably not going to waste my time there, anymore. Authors end up doing all heavy lifting of promotion, anyway. Life's too short.
Thanks for sharing the great post. You have a BEAUTIFUL blog. Please come decorate my house now. ;)
OH! Before I forget to mention, I'm having a big contest to launch my new book. I'd love to "see you there." The link is http://RedTash.com/bash The book might not be your kind of thing, but you could win a free Kindle, and that's something.
I have had two manuscripts turned down after having published two books. But I keep plugging along. I know this is not the way I provide for my family, it is just a hobby that I love. So, with those feelings, I keep trying and do my best not to take the rejection personally.
There are SO many options! My advice (not that you're asking for it) is that you be as patient as you can and take the time to figure out what is truly the best road for you to take. :)
Do not mistake activity for achievement.
It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly.
I hear you. And you have a great thought process on this. Good luck with your publisher, and also with making a decision should they decline. At least you know you have options. And if that dreaded no does come, you have a whole bunch of friends who will support you.
But I hope it's a yes!
The decision of your publisher not to publish your friend's book may have nothing to do with the quality of her book; it may have everything to do with a shrinking traditional market for published books.
Self publishing ebooks not only makes it possible to keep making books available, but the author gets a higher percentage of the revenue. The question may simply be how many of your "modest fan base" will be purchasing or receiving ebook readers this Christmas?
Personally, I wish I already had a revised manuscript to self publish. Working on it, but it would be great to be there now.
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