My novel Ditch Flowers has been accepted for publication. I’m so incredibly happy and proud!
Wait, slow down, right?
Okay, backing up. I began querying literary agents a couple years ago. My very first query resulted in the full request for the manuscript. I was floored and confident THIS WAS IT!
I was wrong. But I did receive a lovely rejection which helped me change the story quite a bit. You see, I had made that newbie mistake of querying too soon. The material just wasn’t ready. It wasn’t good enough. I took nearly a year off from queries to revise and sent more queries. Again, I got a few full requests from agents, and some helpful feedback. Pacing was a real issue. So, I took more time off to revise after a particularly tough friend and reader helped me hack away at unneeded words and material. I was able to get rid of a good 20,000 words of extra junk.
And then I continued agent queries. The idea of publishing with a small press was becoming more appealing. The rejections continued to waver between total silence (crickets in the inbox, I’d say), generic rejection letters, and ultimately kind but frustrating rejections. The most common reason agents were rejecting my story near the end was because it just wasn’t for them, they didn’t fall in love enough to represent, or as one nice agent said, “Nothing specific” she just didn’t feel enthusiastic enough. That told me I was getting so close. SO close.
I mean, not everyone is going to love my work. Not everyone is going to like it. And that’s okay. It really is. I can’t make someone fall in love with my book. It doesn’t mean I’m a terrible writer (I hope), or that my story SUCKS (right?). It just means it didn’t hit them the right way. My good friend, who is also a writer, dislikes one of my favorite books ever. I mean, she couldn’t even get past the first three chapters. It doesn’t mean the book is bad. Different strokes and all. When I’m feeling hesitant about my story being “out there” I sometimes look up my favorite reads on Amazon. When I see reviews of 1 or 2 stars, I simply smile to myself. Those readers didn’t love the same things I loved. And that’s okay. It doesn’t make me love them any less. (The books, that is).
So, I decided to stop querying agents. Although I still see the value of a literary agent and think it’s a great path for many, for me, I had to move on. I made a list of small presses I would like to work with, and queried just two. The first one I queried requested my three chapters, and then very quickly requested and read the full manuscript.
I had a niggling feeling in my stomach all along when I thought of this publisher- Penner Publishing. I just felt like I had to submit. And they are the ones who ultimately made me an offer! So, after two+ years of querying agents, countless rejections, several full requests resulting in passes, lots of great feedback, some crap feedback (Sorry, agent who will remain nameless, but one rejection was just…no), and feeling like giving up, I finally got an offer from the FIRST small press I contacted.
The call came on a Thursday. I had known for five days prior it was coming. To say I was nervous was an understatement. And then waiting on the formal offer and contract was even more scary/exciting. I took another two weeks to wade through the lingo and finally signed. It was one of the best days.
I was so proud, and am proud, of myself for being stubborn. For doing it the way I wanted to this time. For not thinking I wasn’t good enough. For believing someday, someone WOULD fall in love with my story.
So, that’s my good news for now. Ditch Flowers is the working title, which may change, but hopefully not. It will be released in the next 9-ish months. I will keep updating as new news comes in.
Thanks for sharing in my joy.