On Friday night, while sitting in the media center at the fairgrounds, I received some exciting news regarding one of my manuscripts. I immediately began flailing—both internally and externally—and jumped across the room in excitement. Nikki London was with me, as we always babysit the media center together when the fair is in town, and when I told her I expected this particular manuscript to be rejected, her response was, “OMG, really?” See, as my BFF and one of my CPs, she naturally thinks the sun shines out my ass when it comes to all things writing-oriented. When I explained my reasons for doubting the manuscript would be accepted, her response was something along the lines of, “Well, if someone like you gets nervous about your writing, I guess it’s even more okay that I do.”
Understand, Nikki London has been my bestie for over a decade—has has been mentioned in other posts—thus she is a little blinded when it comes to an opinion of my awesomeness. Regardless, this sentiment surprised me. When it was echoed elsewhere, I saw a pattern emerging.
Everyone has doubts. In our industry especially, doubts are commonplace. Most of us aren’t household names, and unless you’ve had incredible luck each and every time you’ve hit “send” on a submission, most of us have dealt with rejection. Once you send a manuscript to a particular publishing house, you play the waiting game with fate. Who, of the acquiring editors, will select your work for the inaugural read? Some places have just one such editor, so if you get in once because he or she likes your voice, you might feel more comfortable submitting again. Sometimes you submit directly to your editor when you’re in-house, and other times you use the same system you would if this were your first rodeo. In those instances, it just depends on who picks up your work and how it resonates with them. What works for one editor might dramatically turn off another. Regardless, no matter if it’s your first time or one hundred and first time, feeling anxious is normal, and likely better for your ego than thinking your shit don’t stink. That way when you do get accepted, it’s like rediscovering an old song and remembering why you loved it in the first place.
So, yes, Virginia, we published authors live with the same fear as the rest of you. At least when I celebrate a new contract, it’s completely genuine. No matter how seasoned you are or how many titles you have to your name, there is someone out there who might say no. You better just hope your manuscript doesn’t land on their desk.