I had been putting off contacting them ... the publishers who requested two book proposals back in July. I knew that it had been a long time since I had heard anything from them, but fear held me back. If I contact them, I might finally hear their rejection, my brain reasoned. So, I put it off until finally, I got off my duff and wrote the contact person (the editor I had pitched my ideas to at the writer's conference last year, who had then put me in touch with the head editor at her publishing company). I merely stated that I was wondering if they had found time to review the book proposals I sent back in July.
She seemed very apologetic. I guess, in my inexperience, I didn't really know what was a reasonable amount of time to wait. I secretly hoped that the reason I wasn't hearing anything was because the proposals were making the rounds of committee meetings where everyone has to get on board before requesting the full manuscript. Probably not the way it works, but my brain was hoping.
She contacted her head editor and he finally sent me a reply. He wrote:
"Thanks so much for submitting both of your young adult fiction proposals.... Thanks also for discussing these proposals with -- -- last summer. She only forwards manuscripts to me that she sees strong potential in, and I greatly appreciate her efforts.
"I am sorry it has taken so long to get an answer to you regarding your proposals. I have found the writing to be top-tier and the story lines to be quite interesting. I wish we could expand our YA fiction by adding both titles.
"But sadly we are tapped out on fiction titles for the next two years...."
So, some sad, but also encouraging, news. On the one hand, it was a no. Ouch! But on the other hand, my writing was declared to be "top-tier" and my ideas "quite interesting." That is a good sign. At least I know I am not sending out rubbish.
I had also heard another no from a different publishing company prior to that. It wasn't unexpected because the contact editor had warned me in advance that their publishing company seldom publishes any young adult fiction. In her rejection, she declared my manuscript to be "a strong book and concept."
The Christian market for young adult fiction is very slim. This begs a whole conversation about why that is the case, but I have no desire to speculate at the moment. For me, it is what it is and I have to work around those limitations.
So, what am I doing? I'm actually moping less than I was when I was waiting for some word. I immediately switched tracks and spent some time fine-tuning my middle-grade manuscript. I then submitted it to Eerdmans, one of the few publishers who will accept unsolicited manuscripts. Of course, they receive thousands of these unsolicited manuscripts each year, so my chances are again slim, but it was worth the shot and it was some form of action. That is what I have resolved to do - keep taking some form of action, attempting to get my manuscripts out there.
I'm not to the point of considering self-publishing yet. I still feel very strongly that I am supposed to seek out a publisher for my work. Maybe when I have exhausted all other avenues, I will turn to that possibility, but for now ... I'm just going to keep plugging away. My brain has been tossing around a few ideas for a women's novel, a much easier market to break into. Of course, my passion is still young adult literature, but it can't hurt to try a different angle.
The real question I keep coming back to is whether or not I should be seeking employment in the midst of this struggle. We could certainly use the extra income, but I wouldn't want to take any kind of position which required me to place my boys in before or after school care, so the options seem limited there, as well. I could go back to something in education, but I'm not sure that is where I want to be either. It is hard to know what to do, but I'm not giving up on my writing. It is still a dream and one I feel is worth pursuing.