About two months ago, I submitted a proposal for my book, Darkwater: Memoir of a Pastor Who Lives with Depression to two publishers. I knew that it could take several months to hear back from them. I don’t know how the internal workings of publishing houses work, but I imagine that they have to work through hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of proposals. So of course the speed is slow. It’s been really hard waiting these last two months. Every single time my phone made the “email ding” sound, I wondered if it was one of the publishers.
Well, finally it was. This afternoon I received an email from one of the publishing houses. It was a rejection. It was actually rather kind. I’ll quote from it here:
There are many factors that enter into our decisions to publish. Quality and relevance of the manuscript are high among these, but those are not at issue here. We also consider our prior commitments, the balance of publications by audience and topic, the limits to the audiences that we can reach, and the costs of marketing books to their most interested readers. Because of these constraints, each year there are many manuscripts of publishable quality that we are not able to publish ourselves…
I hope that you will quickly be able to find an appropriate publisher for your work. Thank you for thinking of ____, and may God bless your endeavors.
They didn’t tell me it was crap. They didn’t tell me that I shouldn’t have wasted their time. They didn’t tell me that I’m fooling myself that I’m a writer. What did they tell me? They told me that it’s just not marketable right now, at least not by them.
But it hurts. It hurts because I’d really put myself out there. This book isn’t just a work of art from my heart, it’s very explicitly the story of my life. And this feels like I’ve been rejected, like I finally found the way to share who I am, and it was unwanted. Unloved. Unmarketable.
I know rationally that this is not the end. As you might notice from the final line I quoted above, this was a Christian publisher. I also submitted it to a publisher of mental health-related books, and I have yet to hear from them. (Their website says it typically takes two to three months for them to respond, and I am right now smack in the middle of that sweet spot.) So I may have a very different message from them. There are also a number of other publishers I’m interested in, and I can start a new submission tomorrow. This is not the end.
But rejection hurts.