Monday I was digging around for new small presses to send my query to. I had been hitting up agents pretty hard, and batting a zero. I figured for my first book publication, I would stay open to the possibilities–and as my spreadsheet grows with more names of publishers (almost 40!) and agents in whose inboxes are filled with my name, I’m realizing that my book might be best suited for the small independent presses (not to be confused with vanity presses or hybrid presses, or self-publishing, all of which could be discussed in detail about their issues in their own blog posts).
Back to Monday. I found a press I hadn’t yet heard of and they had just opened for submissions again. I was in. Well, I mean after I first checked out their website, looked over the books they had already published, upcoming books, and who the staff consisted of. Then I Googled the authors who had recently published memoir with this press (because that’s what I’m shopping around). When all of these areas passed in terms of looking legit (and not scammy), I put together the best query letter I could and sent in it. That was while I was waiting for dinner to finish cooking on the stove. By lunchtime on Tuesday, the press had responded. I figured a response that took less than 24-hours was surely a quick rejection.
As you can probably guess by now, they asked for my manuscript, along with responses to a detailed sheet of questions about my book.
Of course I’m continually skeptical of any place that wants my work.
Is it because of my imposter syndrome? The nagging feeling that my writing really isn’t THAT good, but that I can sell my book pretty well, leading to publishers asking for the manuscript only to reject it after all? Maybe.
Is it because I have had friends who published with the aforementioned vanity presses or hybrid presses, and have seen them shell out money to have someone publish their book, and then for the friend to have to do their own marketing, and in the end only having the backing of a publisher who cares more about getting money from them than actually supporting the writing itself? Yes, definitely.
Is it because I refuse to self-publish as it seems like the “easy” way to get a printed version of my book in hand, but lacks any satisfaction of having a publishing professional vetting and validating my work? (and includes even more of the self-marketing, self-editing, self-cover designing than vanity presses?) Yes, most likely.
So, when this press sent a personalized email calling my book “intriguing,” I let myself cautiously be excited. And scared. And wishful. And hopeful. And spending more time of the last three days dreaming of seeing my book in real-life, in the hands of actual readers, on bookshelves, etc.
But here I am again for the third time. The previous two presses who showed interested eventually responded with “we don’t think this fits in our list of acquisitions at this time,” or “this is nicely written but I don’t think we could sell this.” Now I’m left wondering what kind of response this third press will deliver. Will it be more of the same?
“We love your book and we’d love to publish it.”
“We’d love to work with you to make this book something really great.”
“We think you have an important story to tell and we’d like to partner with you to do it.”
Maybe, just maybe, third time’s a charm.