She wanted the manuscript for a couple of weeks. Does a couple of weeks mean two precise weeks, or is it a loose term? I have no idea of the etiquette involved in this situation. Do I wait till she contacts me, or do I let a few more days go by and email her? Although she was so positive about my book, I have to remind myself that she may not take it on. Let’s be honest, in an industry where publishable work is turned down and (so I read) authors are dropped by publishers if they aren’t sufficiently commercially successful, my book may never be published at all.
Writers have to brace themselves for rejection, have to try to remain positive when a project fails. I know that sounds pessimistic but it’s the hard truth. If it does fail, you have to ask yourself some questions:
- is the manuscript good enough
- has it been polished and edited to within an inch of its life
- is it hard to fit into any genre (publishers don’t like books that encompass more than one or two genres)
- is your pitch letter as good as you can get it
- ditto your synopsis
- did you send it to the right agencies (you need to do some research and try to target agents who publish books in the same category as yours)
- is your presentation perfect, i.e. double spaced, printed out on pristine A4 paper if you’re sending hard copy, checked for spelling and typos
You need to try quite a few agencies, but if your book keeps coming back to you, maybe it’s time for a revision or rewrite or to start another book. A novel I sent out four years ago kept getting very positive rejections from both publishers and agents, some said they would have taken it but were full up, some said I wrote well but it wasn’t for them, one lovely lady agent was complimentary but said she didn’t know how she would market the book. Looking at it now, I can see a certain awkwardness in those vital first three chapters. I struggled with them at the time, writing and rewriting to get them up to the standard of the rest of the manuscript. One day I may visit the story again and amend it.
Meanwhile, keep the faith, keep writing and try to learn from any positive comments or constructive criticism thrown your way. Publishers and agents don’t bother to comment (as far as I can tell) if they don’t think your writing shows promise – so treasure those emails or standard slips that have an extra, personalised message attached.