Always a Bridesmaid…

If you’ve been on the submission’s train long enough, you’ve probably developed the bridesmaid syndrome. You know what I mean – – the close, but not yet. If I were a Regency writer, I’d compare it to being the debutante who received tons of callers but went home without a marriage proposal at the end of the Season. There are days I feel like Jane in 27 Dresses — standing next to the altar, but never the main attraction.

I’ve queried three novels so far. All three of them have garnered requests for fulls from agents. Two of them have won contests. In other words, I know I’m doing something right. Then the rejection comes. Most of the rejections involve the line “not for NY”, but I’ve had a couple of recent ones pointing out my flaws. Sometimes you need someone to point out that you need to invest in some Spanx to get rid of the saddlebags if you wear tight dresses. The good news from all these rejections is that they usually end with an invite to send something else, which I understand is a “good thing”. But I’m still left alone at the reception in bad dress  sipping on a watermelon margarita.

Sometimes it’s easy to give up on Mr. Perfect and hook up with one of the groomsmen just to get it out of your system. It’s always a gamble. I’ve seen frustrated writers self-publish (through LuLu, for example), which I would compare hooking up with a lazy guy that makes you do all the work in the relationship, but sometimes you come out on top. Others sign up with vanity publishers (like Publish America or DellArte — STAY AWAY!), which is like getting involved with a mooch who takes your money and gives you nothing. Then there are others that publish with an e-pub or small press, which I would compare to going after the shy, quiet type. You won’t have the big bells and whistles in that relationship (say compared to a NY pub), but it can very satisfying, and you might just find a diamond hidden under the shy exterior.

My 2 most recent rejections were tempered by 2 requests, so I’m still out there on the agent hunt, but I’m definitely thinking e-pubs may be the way to go for now, at least with what I have out there. Of course, I’d first need to strike up a conversation with my editor to see if she’d be interested in my novels.

What are you thoughts about the “bridesmaid” situation? Have you been there? What keeps you motivated to keep sending queries out? Any success stories you’d like to share?


5 Responses to “Always a Bridesmaid…”

  1. 3 March, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Boy, do I hear that! I tried for a year and a half to secure and agent. Most of the attempts were rejections. Some got requests THEN rejections. The highest I’d ever finaled in a contest was third. After awhile I got tired of the constant “thanks but no thanks”. I am published with e-pubs. Does this make me less of a writer?

    I don’t think it does. Instead, I’m gaining experience working with editors, other authors, promotional stuff, etc. Does it mean high sales? Maybe for some people but not for me at this point. Does that bother me? Depends on what day it is. Because, you see, I love some of those books and I’m glad someone believed in them enough to publish them.

    For now, it’s enough. But it’s not my ultimate goal. For now, NY can wait. I’m having fun doing what I’m doing. Does it hurt less when other people get that “dream”? No. I have to deal with it. Who’s to say those authors won’t be a one hit wonder or fall on their faces?

    I try not to begrudge someone their destiny. I try to hope that I’m meeting mine just as I should. To get through it, I have to believe in myself because at the end of the day, that who I have to live with.

    I wish you luck in your quest but don’t let the chasing tire you out. Maybe it’s just not time yet.

    • 2 C.
      3 March, 2010 at 9:16 pm

      No, I totally agree that e-pubs have their perks. For example, I love that I have more freedom with my writing. I’m not under a deadline, and I don’t feel pressured to write what NY wants. I can write what I want when I want.

      As for the chasing, just when I think I’m ready to give up, I get a new request. So, I have to wait a few months to see where that leads. In the meantime, I need to keep writing. Maybe the next project will be the one…

  2. 4 March, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I know a couple of writers who went the way of Publish America and AuthorHouse. The only reason I haven’t queried an agent is because I haven’t written anything long enough. I exchanged emails with one, and she said to send a query when I was ready, so that’s encouraging.

    For now, I, too, am focusing on the the e-pubs. It’s not that I won’t try to get an agent or submit to the NY pubs, but I’m trying to be realistic about my publishing career.

    It sounds like you’re doing everything right, so it’s just a matter of time. Keeping fingers crossed…

  3. 4 Carolyn Haley
    6 March, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I spent years as a “bridesmaid.” On one hand, it was horribly frustrating. On the other hand, it told me I was getting closer to my goal, and motivated me to keep going.

    I ended up with an e-publisher, and find it interesting how many people feel this is second-best. For me, it’s a perfect solution. My novel is cross-genre, which, in today’s marketplace, has little chance in the traditional print world, which needs either blockbusters or books that slot neatly into established genres with loyal readers, who hunger for continual output from their favorite authors. I will never meet any of those criteria; therefore, it got to be counterproductive for me to keep trying to get accepted by conventional publishers.

    The e-book world, however, offers the eclectic audience and wide exposure my novel needs. And promotion is much easier and less expensive. I deliberately went with a publisher who takes e-rights only, which leaves the door open for me to self-publish a print copy.

    I rapidly learned that this will be necessary, because the world is still solidly divided between people who prefer electronic and people who prefer print books. Half of my known fan base is waiting for the print version. Great! They’ll get it in a few months, during which I will have the satisfying experience of typesetting and publishing my novel in either paperback or hardcover, while the e-version spreads around the world and draws new readers.

  4. 5 marian
    20 July, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    hi. i found ur blog via absolute write. if it’s any help, i started with an e-pub first. it gave me the experience and confidence i needed to seriously query for my current work. i honestly think my ebook gave me addtl cred as well. 🙂

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