It’s all too easy to mistake an airing of this topic for a plea for sympathy, but bear with me: I’ve already said I’m OK about this. And, let’s face it, it is the norm, at every level of a writer’s career: even successfully published authors shake at the knees when new contracts are under discussion – so I’ve been told.
For what it’s worth, here are my golden rules for lessening the blow.1. Don’t rush into submitting as soon as your first MS is complete.
It’s worth saying, although I don’t expect anyone to take any notice. You’ve finished a book! That is so overwhelmingly amazing (it is – well done), you have to share it with the world: and do so quickly, before anyone else can steal your idea, not to mention so you can get your hands on the Ferrari/apartment in Venice/football club [select luxury item of your choice] you deserve, as soon as possible.
If you don’t pause to think first, you’ll waste your only opportunity to pitch this book to the agent/publisher you most want a deal with (and you will pitch to them first), with your book still in a raw state. However many times you’ve redrafted, however much feedback you’ve had, with the fresh eyes of laying it on one side for a month or two you will want to make changes. More importantly, delaying will give you a chance to work on Rule #2.
2. Never start sending out an MS until you’re well into writing your next book
... and no, it shouldn’t be a sequel to the first. I know it will speed things up when it comes to the film rights if you already have the second story in the series written, but you need to get your head somewhere else if the rejections are not going to really hurt.
So, back to my own piece of “good news.” I’d given up hope of hearing from the publisher who initially seemed so enthusiastic about my book, but it turns out that it had been seriously considered by him and his editorial team. Far from it being where I thought it was – lying untouched in his in tray – for four months, it had been passed from one person to another, each of whom thought it was worth a second look. I think that’s relatively speedy, especially since their priority during that time must have been their existing authors. And I feel I’m getting a bit closer, because they had nice things to say about my work and they’re keen for me to submit more.
A direct route to the editor’s desk: now that is something to celebrate. And thanks to Rule #2, I might just have something ready to send.