There was a time, before emails, zooms, portals and online banking, when a writer would type out a manuscript, package it up and send it, via post, to a publisher. Then there would be a period of waiting for the postman to deliver a letter, with either a rejection note or a bank cheque.
Now it's different.
Each publisher has its own criteria for submissions. Submit on a certain day, between these hours, send the first three chapters, the first fifty pages, double space, use this font...
If you don't hear from them in six week, three months, six months, twelve months, well that's the rejection letter- silence.
With the advance in technology, the volume of what publishers receive must be enormous - so I get it. I get the guidelines and the response times. And what I have to remind myself is that it's not personal.
The reality is, when you finish a manuscript there are no guarantees that it will automatically be published by a traditional publishing house, which I suppose is one reason why self publishing is so popular.
While there is no sure way of getting published, I think there's a lot of luck involved.
My manuscript (in its unpolished, renovator's delight state) for what would become Unpacking Harper Holt, landed at WBA at the exact time they were looking for a contemporary emotional novel. Had I sent it four months earlier, or three months later, they could have been looking for something else and Harper would have been on the rejection pile rather than on a bookshelf.
Having gotten over that first hurdle, then there were other internal processes that Harper had to go through before being signed off - processes I had not even realised existed.
At any step of the way it could have fallen apart. The reality is that publishing is a business. It's not personal.
It could be that a publishing house has a direction it is going and your manuscript just doesn't fit into that vision. Maybe they already have two or three authors on their schedule writing something similar. They often are thinking a year ahead, what is the book market doing, where is it heading? And then of course there are budgets, staffing, time constraints - so many things - not to mention this year, in 2020, Covid.
And maybe your manuscript isn't ready - it needs more work.
There are so many factors that are going on behind the scenes that as a writer, tapping away on your computer, you just don't know about. But don't let this discourage you. Focus on your manuscript. Get feedback and make it the best it can be. Be proud of your achievement.
If you've read my previous posts then you know I'm working on a junior series. I have absolutely no idea if it will ever be accepted by a publisher and I have yet to find the courage to self publish. I have a map, and it needs a cover illustration and a bit more editing but it's really close to being done.
What I do know is this. When it's done, when it's the best it can be, I'll get it printed out, bound into individual books, and put them safely away a box. Then maybe one day, my son will open that box, take out Book 1 and read it to his children, my grandchildren - a series of stories that only they have access to.
That makes writing pretty magical and it is personal.
(Note: I am taking a break from my blog until the New Year - there are a few things going on behind the scenes - it's not personal!)