I’ve recently begun the daunting task of submitting my novella to publishers. You know, that time where you finally realise you’ve finished all the editing you could possibly do; when you can’t procrastinate another minute by checking it’s supposed to be in American English or Pig Latin?
It’s a nerve-wracking time for most writers, and even if you’re not a writer, most of us feel the same way while searching for a new job, learning a second language, or doing something completely out of our comfort zone. For most people, they just say they’re going to write a novel or send their art to a gallery, but we, we’ve actually gathered the courage and put the time into not sounding like an absolute fool in our cover letters. There’s this site I found a while back, SlushPile Hell, documenting those god-awful cover letters by the wannabes who believe their book will be the GREATESTBOOKEVA! Seriously, you don’t have to think that way; you’re just going to come across vain, money hungry and conceited, and that’s never a good way to appear. You may have written a good book, but it’s never going to get out there when you sound like a narcissist on ice.
In any case, sites like SlushPile Hell have shown me that it’s never a good idea to use Comic Sans in an email (or alternatively, print it out in Kristen ITC on purple paper), proclaim your book to be the next Bible, or speek in da propa txt-sp33k langwij. It’s reminded me to stay grounded, and not think I’m the greatest thing since sliced cheese just because I’ve finished my novella and many other people haven’t. There are many other people that have. The thing is separating yourself from that crowd.
This is what’s daunting about submitting to publishers. It’s not a simple cut and dry task, like slapping up your book on Amazon or posting it on your blog, even though I’m not fully against self-publishing—it depends on your reasons for going the self-publishing route. However, this is an exciting moment, making the change from writer/aspiring author to author.
There’s one important thing to realise: It’s not immediate.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it goes saying again: The moment you finish what you consider your epic novel, you won’t receive a phone call from one of the Big Five saying “Congratulations dear Sir/Madam! We hacked into your computer recently and found you have written the greatest book ever written. Please say ‘Yes’ and we’ll send you a contract, because we also know your email/actual address!” Sorry, but you have to do it yourself. I have to do it. Joe Bloggs down the street has to do it. The only ones who don’t have to do it are the rich and famous, and you’re probably not an A-lister, because your assistant would probably already have the ghost writer on the phone.
Reality sinks in, and this is the part where a lot of self-publishing enthusiasts stamp their feet on the ground like a Sim facing a routing error, screaming “The gatekeepers. Tha gaht-kahpers!” No, you can do that later, if you’ve exhausted all possible options. But, for now, the hard yards are there to be walked, to be put in. As I said, there’s nothing against these people, but if you’re considering submitting your finished novel to publishers, you can’t immediately accept defeat. You have to put work in. Think of famous authors, like J.K Rowling, who submitted to many publishers before Bloomsbury finally accepted her work. Stephen King is a household name, but his work was rejected by publishing houses, causing him to go into a depressive state and almost give up on writing. Many famous and ordinary authors have trekked the same path as you.
As I look to get my own work out there, I’m pretty excited. I’m not running around thinking my work is something that SlushPile Hell mocks, but on the contrary, I don’t conceitedly think the opposite. I’m in the middle-ground, and as I trek this path, I hope to inevitably end with my work in the public, ready for you—the reader and the writer—to enjoy. After all, that’s the main aim for writers, even if many are in it for the $$$ or the fame. We’re in it to provide a good read to readers everywhere. That’s what overcomes the nervousness of submitting to publishers in the end.