It’s the moment every aspiring author dreams of: an email from a publisher who wants to set up a time to talk. I’ve been lucky enough to know the feeling.
I was sleeping when I heard the email ding on my phone. I had a feeling it was from the publisher, since it was an email account I only used for sending my work out. I hesitated to look at it. I had already received numerous rejections for this particular story, so I assumed it was the same old “thank you for your submission, unfortunately…” email. I was wrong.
“Your story is cheeky and entertaining! I like it a lot. It feels like a Robert Munsch book to me, with the silly words and repetition and over the top one liners,” the publisher wrote. “I agree that it could be a great fit for our catalogue.”
I jumped out of bed. The publisher’s response was a page long. This is it! I thought.
“If you’re up for some dialogue, I’d be interested in some initial back-and-forth about the story, the process, and fitting the production into our schedule and mandate…and begin looking at illustrators. I have one in mind already, who I’ve reached out to and whose schedule would take us to 6-8 months down the road before we had books in hand.”
Wow! I couldn’t believe it. I sent a text to my husband. My book is going to be published!
The publisher’s email included details on marketing strategy, editing, royalty payments, etc. I spent the morning reading the email over and over… it ended with:
“Lots of conversation to have, if you’re interested! I do receive a number of submissions a year, and I’m unable to move forward with most, but I don’t usually write these type of emails right off the top, as an introduction, so let’s chat!”
I tried to play it cool and waited until the end of the day to respond. Eagerly, I agreed: “let’s chat!”
A month went by, and then another. I sent a friendly follow up email, after all, I had not yet signed a contract with this publisher, and I still had my book sitting in many slush piles.
Finally, I received a response. A much shorter response. The publisher needed more time to look things over, he had a number of projects on the go at the moment. Fair enough, I thought. I knew how busy publishers were, and how many submissions they get. I could sit and wait. Right?
Four months later, I received a lengthy email. The gist was that the publisher was still interested in the story, but there were many current projects they were taking on at the same time. They would not be able to fully finance the book completely by themselves. They were a smaller publisher, after all. My heart sank. I knew what that meant. I had prepared myself for bad news before receiving the email, so it wasn’t a devastating blow, but it still hurt. I think I was mostly angry about the months spent waiting for word on the publication, but in the publishing world, that’s just a given I guess.
I chalk this experience up to just that, an experience. I didn’t run away to my bedroom, lock the door and cut off all contact with the world afterward. I’ve been working on a new picture book since this all went belly up. Call me crazy, but if you love writing, it’s hard to stop.
I guess I’m sharing my experience with you now, just to say that these things happen. You should get excited when you get good news, even if it doesn’t work out. You came close, right?
Also, you should never, ever, pay someone to publish your work.
If you have a publication story or almost story, I’d love to hear it. Drop it below in the comments.