This message was sent to me this morning by Buzzwords, and I thought I would add it to my blog as I know many authors are in a similar position:
Everyone is interested to know how other writers broke into print or how they got their latest manuscript accepted. How did you find the publisher? Were you represented by an agent? How long did your manuscript sit with the publisher? Or was your manuscript commissioned? Was it
a multiple submission? How many rejections did you get before your acceptance?
This was my response.
Verse novels are notoriously difficult to get published. When I first came up with the idea for ‘In Hades’ my writer friends warned me off. I don’t have an agent and the bigger publishers I approached didn’t bother replying. Those that did said, ‘We never sell enough, so we don’t take them on.’ Another response: ‘We love it, but we don’t know what to do with it.’ In a way that was beneficial in that it gave me time to keep redrafting.
Publishers run a business. If they don’t sell books, they don’t survive. The bottom line is always marketing. Over the years I have had several books accepted all the way through until at the last minute rejected by the marketing team. Nor does it seem to matter how well you are known or how many books you have previously written. Of course it helps if you are a BIG NAME.
However, I was aware that other authors had attempted unusual styles. Some of our most classic stories have been told in different ways: ‘Mouse’, as a comic, ‘Red Shift’, all dialogue, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, a fable. In the 47 short poems that make up “In Hades”, after a dreadful tragedy, Kai and Bilby G are thrown into a journey that takes place literally and metaphorically in the underworld. The shape of each poem is important as the lines trace the hero’s adventures.
A year later, after many drafts, and god knows how many submissions, ‘In Hades’ was taken on by the small but brave ‘Celapene Press.’ We contacted each other mostly by email. I don’t think a larger company would have been prepared to tackle the multiple shapes these poems needed. Our problem is to sell enough copies. In my opinion it’s not getting a novel published that is most difficult. What I find extremely challenging is having the world know it exists.