I’m a writer. And what do writers do? We write, of course. Most of what we scribble will never see the light of day. And for good reason. Stephen King (and many others, I’m sure) said that your first million words are just practice. Badly spelled, poorly alliterated, cringe-worthy drivel that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.
But hopefully, somewhere in that pile of words, you’ve learned a thing or two, and maybe you’ve even put something together that someone, somewhere, would want to read. This is every writers darkest fantasy. Getting published.
It’s a long and hairy road. A lot happens between “writing” and “being published.” If we call “writing” step one of the process, I’m currently on step two: querying. You take your novel, (50-100 thousand words, with another million on the cutting room floor), and you try to condense it to roughly 250 words that are exciting enough to entice a potential agent or publisher to read more. You send this query letter out, and you wait patiently for the rejection letters to come pouring in.
And pour in they do! I have a folder filled with polite thanks but no thanks letters. But if you keep sending it out, maybe, just maybe, one day someone will be interested.
That’s what happened to me on Friday, January 27th. I received an email from a publisher asking me to send in a hard copy of my novel.
Shipping a manuscript is about a $50 investment in printing costs and postage. Good thing there’s a bus strike in Halifax. I can put my unspent bus ticket money towards shipping and handling. So I printed it, and packaged it, and mailed it with pride.
And this would have been the end of my little story. Except, the publisher wasn’t in the office when the package was delivered on February 1st, so it was returned to the nearest postal outlet, awaiting pickup.
And there it sat.
For 14 days.
Every day I checked Canada Post to see if it had been retrieved, and every day my heart shrunk just a little. What if they didn’t get the delivery notification? What if they lost it? What if they forgot?
What the heck is the protocol for this? You really really REALLY don’t want to harass publishers. But you also don’t want to miss the chance to get it to the only person interested in reading the damn thing.
I hemmed. I hawed. Finally, I broke down and sent the publisher a gentle, friendly reminder that they only had a few days left to get it. They promptly replied saying they’d just gotten the first notification of it that day (damn you, Canada Post!), and to basically hold my horses.
I checked Canada Post. I checked again.
And I can (finally!) say that as of 9:11am (EST) this morning, my manuscript is in the hands of a real live publisher.
I feel obliged to point out that this doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s non-news. There are many-a steps between having someone ask to see the full manuscript and publication. So don’t go telling people I’ll be a best selling author by Easter (Granny, this means you!).
But, hell! Someone besides friends and family is volunteering to read more! I say it again:
For those that are wondering, here are the possible outcomes, in descending order of likeliness:
- I never hear from the publisher again (49.999999%)
- I get a form rejection from the publisher sometime in the next 6 months (49.999999%)
- The publisher is actually interested in it (0.000002%)