by Ruth Hartman
When I saw the advertisement in a children’s digest on writing, I never dreamed it would be the start of something wonderful. I’d recently taken a course in writing for children, and decided to apply to some publishers.
What ended up happening though was a far cry from kid’s books.
The publisher, Pipers’ Ash, listed children’s books as one of their departments. I sent in a fictional short story about a girl with OCD. They rejected it. And I almost didn’t read their e-mail past that announcement. But boy, I’m glad I did! Even though my children’s story wasn’t what they were looking for, they asked if I could submit my own experience with OCD. (To this day, I’m not sure how they knew I had it, just an assumption on their part, I guess.)
I’d never even considered writing my memoir. I knew next to nothing about writing one, and at first felt the task was too huge to tackle. But, more than anything, I wanted to be published. I’d had so many rejections for various children’s stories, I gave it a try. What would I be out, except time and effort?
It wasn’t easy writing that book. Believe me. There were things I’d forced myself to forget that were dragged out of my closet, hidden behind other skeletons. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted the world to know what I’d been through. But honestly, since writing that, I’ve had so many people tell me it’s helped them or someone they love.
Even with that, though, I wondered if that would be my only published work. I didn’t seem to be having any luck with children’s stories getting a nod from publishers. But…I began wondering what would happen if a dental hygienist (I happen to be one) fell in love with her patient? That idea clattered around in my head for a while. I ended up writing a 40,000 word sweet romance. Imagine my absolute shock when a publisher wanted it!
Unlike my memoir, I went through countless submissions and rejections to get to that point. As a matter of fact, I was just about ready to call it quits. Study a publisher’s guidelines. Send in my submission. Sometimes with a synopsis, which I hate! And wait. And wait. Each time I got an e-mail from yet another publisher I’d hold my breath. Would someone finally want my book? But…no.
When I received the e-mail from Midnight Showcase (recently re-named Melange Books), I fully expected another rejection. I mean, why would they want my book when no one else did? One thing, I think, that helped was that they are a smaller publisher. All of my publishers are small. But that doesn’t mean they are less of a publisher. Published is published!
I guess one thing I would suggest to someone who isn’t published yet would be to not give up! And always make sure your submission is exactly what they’re looking for. Otherwise you’re just wasting your efforts when they could be better used somewhere else. Study their submission pages. Make your manuscript exactly what they ask for down to the last asterisk between scenes. I’ve heard complaints even lately from the publishers I work with, that the submissions they’re getting don’t follow what they’ve requested. And believe me, they’re all different. Some want single lines, some want double. Some want chapter headings and others only want scene breaks. It’s tedious work to read through their submission process carefully, but it’s so worth it!
So what are you waiting for? Send out your story to some small publishers today!
Ruth J. Hartman