Proposal

Typing “the end” feels amazing (when it’s the last page of your novel and not some tragic note about the demise of your Oreo package).

Both my proposals are done, my novel manuscript is complete, and my agent and I are at another conference—the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference—ready to pitch my work. Yes, it seems like going to conferences is all I do, but really these shindigs are months and months apart. Everything just moves slowly in publishing.

Anyway, Karen sets up a couple of appointments with some editors and we pitch the dog book and the novel. I enjoy the meetings, which means I’m making progress in not sounding stupid when I talk about myself and my writing. Yay me.

I don’t expect to hear any feedback about the proposals for several months. (I mentioned the glacier speed of the publishing industry?)

This is my understanding of what has to happen next: The editors will put my proposal in their big honkin’ pile of 800 other proposals, and they’ll get to it when they get to it.

Mostly editors sift through their mountainous proposal piles pretty quickly.

The process, I hear, looks like this:

No…no…no…no…definitely not…oh, why would someone even send that?…no…no…no…hmm, a possible maybe…no…not a chance…yikes…never…

It’s not that editors are mean. They’ve been doing this for a long time, and they have a good idea of what can work and what can’t. After they get a stack of maybes, they sift that pile. It goes like this:

Never mind…no…no…what was I thinking on that one?…no…nah…we’ll never be able to sell that…another no…flawed premise…no platform…no…ooh, wait. This one’s a yes.

When they’re done, the yes pile is really, really small, and the rest of the proposals get rejection letters. Then they take their yes stack to editorial committee, where all the other editors in the company bring their yes piles and they decide as a group which ones they’ll pursue and which ones they’ll kick to the curb. Everyone has to be on board, or you get the sayonara story.

And yes, lots of sayonaras happen in the editorial meeting. The surviving proposals are an elite group that have great promise. They move on to the next committee, known in many publishing houses as “PubCo,” where there will be yet more sifting.

It feels like getting a book published with one of these houses is impossible. But then, a lot of things feel that way. But people do get published. They stick with their task, move forward, learn more about the industry, meet people, make connections, work harder yet on craft.

It’s a battle.

But the world is full of hard fought battles. Of feats we’re determined to accomplish. Of trials were resolved to overcome.

There’s no glossing it over. They cost.

They make us think and work and persevere.

But isn’t the sweat and struggle the very thing that makes our victory so sweet?

That makes our feats and trials and ideals so valuable?

That makes us ready, even excited, to face the next challenge?

Bring it on.

(Read more of the book contract story here)

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