By now you may have heard that my dream publisher rejected my manuscript after a 6 month wait. It was a blow to be sure, but I understand how these things go. No hard feelings and all that.
The cruelest part of this whole process isn’t the rejection (which is something I’m generally okay with) it’s the disempowerment during the process of waiting. During these last six months, while I was able to hone the manuscript and continue writing short stories, there wasn’t really a whole lot I could do. Even from a marketing perspective, there’s only so much you can say about a product that doesn’t exist yet.
While in the bath the other night, mulling my options, it occurred to me how disempowered I felt throughout this seeking-publication process. Writing Inner Moonlight was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I learned to use my voice in new ways, to be unashamed at sharing some deeply personal things, to feel entitled to my point of view, and to find importance in sharing my voice with the world. Now, here I was, feeling like my work wasn’t my own, my art was being judged on marketability alone, and my value was based on bottom lines.
This isn’t a screed by any means, but it was a fascinating reality check. There are undoubtedly many booksellers, publishers and agents who are in the book business precisely because they value the art behind the products. The fact that there are even people taking a decidedly feminist novel seriously is thanks to the passion of many people over the past 40 years taking stands on behalf of art they think matters.
The problem is, everyone is becoming risk-averse, because everyone is scared. No one knows the right answers to the question of publishing’s future. All publishers can do is try to bet on the winning horses. All writers can do is either 1) predict what will be the new vampire and write that book or 2) write what they believe in and try their hardest to sell it to a publisher, even if it takes a lifetime.
I know there’s a third option. I have the energy and the drive to make that third option a viable choice for myself.
So, while I have feelers out to other publishing houses, while I’m querying agents, and working my network and doing all the things an Author Is Supposed To Do, I’m concocting a plan. I’m learning typesetting and pulling in my killer network of editors, graphic designers, rabble rousers, and marketing geniuses. Because mama didn’t raise no fool. I have everything I need to make my book real, I just need to set it in motion.
While publishers may tell me to wait six months and check back, I’m doing the work. The work that a publisher will take 90% of the sales for, the work that most authors don’t want to do, or don’t know how to. Because I’m young, and I’m hungry, and I’ve got plenty of time to kill.