The last few months have been an interesting and, at times, quite challenging time for me. One of the main things I’ve been working on over the past year is a novel called Echoes (a cyber thriller about a computer hacker called Mallory Park) and around mid January, it finally became time for it to go on submission to publishers. In effect, this meant that my agent sent it out to various editors at different publishing houses, with the hope that one of them might be interested in acquiring and releasing it.
Book submission is a rather strange and stressful process to go through as a wannabe writer – mainly characterised by long periods of jittery waiting, binge eating of Kettle Chips and the borderline-obsessive refreshing of emails – but it was one that I’d experienced before when my first book Tainted Earth was similarly sent out about a year ago. What happened then was that after a couple of months it became apparent that, despite some encouraging feedback and seeming ‘almosts’, the market had turned against the book’s dystopian genre and it sadly wasn’t going to make it at that point. [I wrote a whole blog about this here.]
So, when the process started all over again with Echoes, safe to say I came to it with this rather odd mix of both trepidation and excitement. I knew that getting to the stage of submission via an agent did not guarantee getting published, but, at the same time, after many years of writing stories it was hard to completely quash the hopeful little thoughts flitting about in the back of my head and wondering if this one might finally be The One.
If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure having been through submission before ultimately helped me to cope with it better. There was the still constant email/phone checking, the daydreaming about the best and worst possible scenarios, the moments of deciding that I was completely ridiculous for even attempting to get a book deal and what the hell was I even THINKING?!?!!? …As I said, it’s a strange experience. You’re putting this thing that you’ve spent so much time and effort and care creating – that can feel incredibly personally connected to you – out there for people to judge and, ultimately, look for reasons to reject. Add to that that publishing is a notoriously slow moving process and it’s a bit like having an interview for your dream job – and then having to wait months to see if you’ve gotten anywhere as the responses trickle in.
So, what happened?
Well, sadly Echoes didn’t make it on the traditional publishing route either. It seemed to get excruciatingly close in couple of places and, again, the feedback was really encouraging, but it just didn’t quite hit what those publishers wanted for their lists.
How was that?
Well… yes, it sucked. Majorly. It sucked to go through all that waiting and expectation and get sooo close only to fall at the last hurdle. But, rejection will always happen if you want to try anything creative. There will always be someone who doesn’t like, or likes but doesn’t quite like enough, what you’re producing. It’s happened to me before, and will do again, and again… I think the thing that really matters is how you respond to it. Yes, I could get all grumpy and woe-is-me about the whole thing, but there are bigger problems in the world and it wouldn’t change the situation anyway. It would also, quite frankly, be downright annoying to everyone, myself included. As such, I’ve instead decided to take this as a ‘when one door closes, you force open a window using spycraft learnt off the TV’ moment, and go down another route.
Since The In-Between came out three years ago (jeez, time flies), I’ve written three more stories, none of which I’ve released publicly yet. I plan to keep writing new things in the future, but I’ve also come to a point where I do just want to start sharing the what I’ve already done, getting it ‘out there,’ even if it’s not in the way I’d originally daydreamed it. So… over the weekend, I made the decision to self-publish Echoes and have amicably parted ways with my agent (to whom I am still grateful for trying to help me go the traditional route). I’m currently working out the exact details, but am aiming for a release sometime early summer, both in e-book and (hopefully!) paperback forms. (I’ll post more details when I have them.)
So, there we go. ‘Life finds a way,’ to quote Jurassic Park (as all good blogs do). The door closing on the traditional publishers was a blow, but the more I think about going down this new path, the more excited I am because this story is one that I believe in and that means a lot to me – and I genuinely can’t wait to start sharing it 🙂
Thanks for reading this, and I hope in the not to distant future I might have a book ready for you to have a read of too…