I did it: I finished novel #1. Then I sent a sample of it to a publisher. (Thank you Gollancz for opening your slush pile to direct submissions!) What happens next?
The most likely outcome is this: nothing.
A better outcome would be a request for the complete manuscript. Then, I’ll dance and dance and dance. Even if that momentous email is followed by silence.
Next on the ladder of success is a considerate email that suggests what I can do to improve the novel, and why they’re not taking it. Again, dancing would follow.
The absolute best outcome, of course, is that they like it and want to do something with it. My chances are slim.
Can you imagine the slush pile they’ll have after opening the door to direct submissions for three weeks? From reading the comments on the blog, I know people from all over the world have sent in writing samples. We’re all crossing our fingers that our story is the one to get through, the one that catches someone’s attention, that doesn’t annoy or bore a tired editor who is wading through sackfuls of submissions as well as doing their day-job.
While I’m waiting to see if anything happens with my submission, I’m compiling a list of UK SFF literary agents. As excited as I am by this, my first submission to a publisher, and as much as I believe in my work, I know that the chances of anything happening this time are extremely low. I need to plan for the next step.
My mother condensed her delights, concerns and recent bookshelf-tidying experiences into a dream that ended with a review of my book: ‘We no longer need bookshelves. We each only need two books: the Quran and Caroline von Schmalensee’s phenomenal new novel’.* The best review I’ll ever get comes from my mother’s subconscious. It’s rather wonderful, and awe-inspiring, to realise how much the people around you invest in your dreams. Thanks, mum. I love you too.
* I dreamt that I had misspelled the publisher’s name in two different ways in the cover letter.