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How trying to get a book published feels

Trying to get a book published is like:

  • Attempting to get your child into an over-subscribed school. You worry and find yourself wondering what are the odds on success; how can you best improve their chances; what are other people up to? And the answer for some is pretty desperate, like moving house (and ‘downsizing’ to get into the right postcode); signing up for coaching at a very early age; providing a false address that does fall within the magic postcode area; dreaming up the ‘special circumstances’ that provide a shortcut to the top of the list. Anything to achieve that desired goal.
  • Trying to get pregnant when it does not happen as quickly as you would like. Similarly, being approved as adoptive parents and then each month scanning the relevant publications to find a likely youngster, and then starting the process of asking for your papers to be forwarded to the relevant social worker. You spend the month in a state of anxiety and then it starts all over again.
  • Applying for a new job. Presenting yourself as positively as possible; trying to make the right impression at the interview and then waiting for the outcome.
  • Wanting to move house, and finding that new properties are in short supply, and so having to continually chase estate agents to send you information on properties that are interesting to you, before they inform your friends and neighbours, who are also planning to move. And then the angst that follows as you have your offer accepted but fear that the other party may pull out (unless you are reading this in Scotland).
  • Standing on the starting line for a race – perhaps even that most competitive event, the fathers’ race at school sports day.
  • Going into an open competition exam with your examination number ready to write down, with perhaps an associated fear that you might have left an incriminating piece of paper in your pocket (which would bring an accusation of ‘academic misconduct’).

If the thought of any of these situations gets the adrenaline pumping inside you, then you begin to understand how trying to get published will feel. But there is a crucial difference. In all the situations mentioned, you are aware of your rights as a consumer, patient or citizen. There are clear positions in law that entitle you to be heard/seen/have your views considered, even if you are ultimately deemed time-wasting, wrong, or fraudulent; you may not care what those you are dealing with think of you.

When you are trying to get a book published you have all of the same longings, but none of the same rights. You must remain pleasant, and not give them a clue that you might turn difficult after a decision to commission you. And of course the ultimate difference is that you are doing this to yourself; you don’t have to take part – and a large proportion of your acquaintance and family will conclude that you are foolish even to try.


If you found this article useful, you might want to take a look at:

How to handle rejection letters

Rejection can be swift

How (not) to respond to an offer/rejection