And then you start sending it out and you realize that the road to publication is far longer and more difficult than the road to a manuscript ever thought about being.Writing has got to be the most emo thing I’ve ever done besides bearing and raising children. You’re in love and then you’re disappointed. You’re euphoric and then you’re shattered. It’s enough to turn a healthy brain bi-polar.
This week I’ve been stalking my email inbox waiting to hear back about a contest I entered. 200 writers were accepted into the contest, essentially at random. Hundreds of hopefuls didn’t make it in because their internet speeds were too slow to upload their information in the first 30 seconds the contest was open to submissions.And I’ve watched on Twitter as writer after writer has been chosen. There are 40 spots in the next round. So, the top 20% move on. I felt good about my query, and like nearly every other writer in the contest, I had no doubt I’d make it. After all, if I can’t be chosen as one of the top 40 in a group of 200, how will I be chosen out of thousands in a cold submission to an agent by email?
One agent I currently have my eye on said she accepts 1-10 new clients per year. She receives over 50 queries per day. So I have a 1-10 in 15000 chance of her choosing to represent me. The 1-in-5 odds of this contest seemed promising.
So, like a 20-something girl headed out to a singles mixer in an outfit she spent half her paycheck on, I put myself out there again. And I went home alone.
Maybe it should be comforting that many of the writers chosen for the contest appear to have a history with the judges. Among the winners, there were judges’ critique partners, online friends, people whose partial or full manuscripts the judges have already read. But it doesn’t. If my content were strong enough, I would have managed to rise to the top 40 entrants. That’s a lot of winners, my friends, far from an impossible nut to crack.
And the judges’ picks overlapped quite a bit. Some entrants were picked by multiple judges and some that were picked by only one judge had other judges saying, “Yeah, I had her on my short list too.” So there appears to be somewhat of a consensus about what is good and what is not.
When setbacks like this happen, successful authors seem to always use it as motivation to work harder and go stronger. Maybe I’ll get there, but today I’m just gonna let it sting and suck for a while.