As a freelance journalist, I developed a thick hide for rejection. I just ignored it and kept going.
However, when I came to sending out Black Water, the chutzpah deserted me. Probably it was because I’d invested so much in it – five years to be precise, although not solidly because I was raising a family and working at the same time, but anyway a lot of toil.
With an article you can shrug it off and write another, but with a book – well it’s your life’s blood.
That’s what it felt like anyhow. I decided to take the coward’s way out: assume rejection and self publish. That way I’d never have to feel the pain.
Enter my writers’ group. Oh, how I love them. They encourage me to take ever greater risks, heading the challenges as they come.
‘Why don’t you just send it out?’ said Angela Blackwood, who has a theme park based on a book she wrote. ‘You have to try, don’t you?’
I don’t actually.
But there again… I went home and stared at the manuscript.
I had a fantasy that if I self published an agent might pick it up, because I know someone who once had a book published that way.
Then I did some research and I discovered that agents don’t generally like books that have been self published because they lose out on the first rights. In general it reduces your chances of getting an agent, with the first book anyway.
So then I realised, I was going to have to run the gauntlet.
I researched the agents and chose one who sounded possible. I typed my letter and synopsis and took both to my writers’ group, several times. I spent ages proofreading my script and preparing it just the way the agent asked.
‘For goodness sake just send it,’ said the same member of my group, to a chorus of, ‘Do it!’
With trembling fingers, I attached the letter. And the synopsis. And the sample of my book. Finally, with palms sweating, I pressed, ‘Send’.
It was a moment of anticlimax akin to sending my baby to school for the first time, because as soon as it had gone, I thought of a million ways to make it better, a billion things I should have said.
And a few weeks later, the dreaded rejection came.
‘The first one is always the worst,’ said the same member of my writers’ group cheerfully, and we spent a good half hour reminiscing about rejections we have had, after which it didn’t feel so bad. More like a rite of passage.