Monday, June 4, 2012

The Great Flaming Hoops of Success

By Kathleen Bradean

I can live for two months on a good compliment. ~ Mark Twain

I thought that was an Oscar Wilde quote, but brainyquoute says Mark Twain, so I'll attribute it to him. 

After I finished writing my science fiction novel, two beta readers said they couldn't put it down. That's the kind of compliment that can send a writer to the moon. The moon is nice. It's lovely and the stuff of daydreams about success, meetings with an editor, a box full of books fresh from the publisher... It's the return trip from the moon that's rough, skimming along the atmosphere like a pebble throw across a lake. Do you know what happens when things skim across the surface of our atmosphere? They burst into flames.

I tell new writers all the time that rejection isn't personal, that it's just a part of the business, and to learn from it. That's easy to say, but not so easy to feel when the agent who represented a book very much like mine passed on it. Even though I'm not one for platitudes, that's the time that a saying like "Life is falling down six times and getting off the ground seven" spoke to me. So I polished my query letter even though I'm sure it's good, and I found a new agent and sent it out. Now I wait and wait and wait for another rejection or a request for a partial. Even if an agent requests a partial, it doesn’t mean they'll decide to represent the novel. And if they do decide to represent it, it doesn’t mean it will ever sell.

Every big step in publishing turns out to be a baby step when you find out what's ahead of you.

But despite all that, I'm proud that I had enough faith in my writing to send out that first query, and after the rejection letter, doing it again even though I know what kind of hurt might be lurking in an email or SASE.
I could self-publish. I know what it takes - the editor, the prefect cover, the interior design and formatting and a billion other things that a self-published writer must pay attention to so they put out the best product possible. There's nothing wrong with self-publishing. It's still a viable option. So is a smaller publisher who will take a non-agented work. Even though it isn't easier in reality, it feels as if it would be. But I'm still forcing myself to jump through the flaming hoops traditional publishing places before me because I don't ever want to regret not trying.


  1. Hello, Kathleen,

    Honestly I'm not sure why you want to push for a "big name" publisher, but I admire you for following through on your dreams.

    And it IS a wonderful book. I can't wait to read the final version WHEN it gets published.

  2. Lisabet - Wanting a big publishing house is about audience reach and other nebulous, silly things like my sense of accomplishment.


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