I worked in (non-fiction) publishing for almost five years at two different publishers. One of the things that I did at both places was manage the “slush pile”: the unsolicited manuscripts/proposals that came through the door. In other words, I did what the agents I’ve solicited do every day.
It doesn’t make the waiting any easier, nor does it make it easier when I get a no.
Many years ago (2005? 2006? Whoa, yeah, many years ago!), I read one of these unsolicited manuscripts. And I loved it. I would have read that book a hundred times, memorized sections of it, recited it back to people.
There’s that word again!
There was an extremely limited market for this particular book. I happened to be part of that market, but I understood (as did my bosses!) that it simply wouldn’t sell, not in the numbers that a publishing company needed it to.
It was hard to tell the author no. I’d carried on a back-and-forth conversation with him for some time, and I was always up front. “I love this book, but.” And we didn’t end up publishing it. I think about it every once and a while, whether he found a publisher or self-published the book, or if it simply died, which would be a shame.
And I think about it right now, when I’m essentially at the end of my agent search – I have a few query letter hard copies to send out next week, and I’m waiting to hear from the agent who has my full manuscript, but otherwise I’m done. I’ve gotten one hundred rejections. Well, actually 113. I knew the number was up there, but it hurts to look at it. 113 people don’t think it’s good enough. Sure, there are still 60 others that I might hear back from, but I’m a ways into this, and it’s not been good.
But that doesn’t mean that the book isn’t good. Like the manuscript I read at work, it might be a great book that for whatever reason won’t happen.
I’m working on figuring out my next steps.
And keeping my fingers crossed in the meantime.