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  • Jeff Marker

    husband, dad, teacher, filmmaker, writer, film geek, musician, DIYer, vegetarian, Bulldog, Buckeye, Nighthawk

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If I only had the noive

The latest draft is done, and it’s time to call the publisher for a follow up.  It has taken me two weeks to build up the courage to call – and there’s a chance I might still chicken out.  Why is this so utterly terrifying?

For a while, I hesitated to call because I didn’t want to seem pushy and therefore doom my chances of publication.  A very experienced author and friend, though, assures me that the accepted period of time between submitting and following up is about three months (it’s a bit like deciding when to call that pretty girl who gave you her number last night).  In my case, three months and then some have now passed.  Besides, I’ve reached a point where I’d rather err on the side of being too aggressive than passive.  So it should be completely acceptable for me to make a polite and enthusiastic phone call asking if we could discuss my project.

However, I’m finding the fear of rejection just terrible.  And I’ve been rejected professionally before.  In academics, it’s just a part of life.  You apply for scores if not hundreds of jobs, and you might get two or three interviews.  Then odds are, you won’t get any of those jobs.  You send out an article to a journal, of course sending it first to the most respected journal in your field, only to receive a rejection letter three months later.  Then you submit the article to a second-tier journal, often get the same rejection letter simply because the journal is inundated with submissions.  I’m a big boy and have learned to cope with most types of rejection I encounter in my career.

But creative work is completely different.  I’ve worked on this book, either writing or revising, for just about a year.  I started this novel and conceived of the series as something that would be fun for me to write and hopefully for others to read.  It was meant to be fun, first and foremost.  Yet now I find myself hugely invested in it.  Invested in my time, sure, but much more invested in the characters and story.  What was planned as an escape from all that academic work I mentioned (which I am neglecting as I write this, by the way), has become a passion.

Months ago when the publisher asked for the complete manuscript – which is like making the first cut – my hopes were sky high.  Now they are a phone call away from being dashed.

Yes, I know that’s the fear talking.  Because the more optimistic, more faithful side of me is saying, those hopes are a phone call away from being fulfilled, or at least buoyed.  We have to remember, after all, that the purpose of the call is to keep the project alive.  Publishers contact you if they’re going to give a definite yes.  Nothing will be settled or finalized today, unless it’s a final “no.”  I’m hoping merely to hear that it’s still a possibility, and maybe get my manuscript closer to the top of the editor’s stack.

Real courage, I know, means making the call despite the possibility of rejection.  I might find myself back at square one, but at least I’ll know exactly where I am.  It’ll take all my own optimism, probably a call to my wife, and definitely a prayer in order to summon up that courage.


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