I’m incredibly sad and disappointed to report that I’ve not been able to reach an agreement on the contract with the publisher who last year accepted my novel, The Watery Girl.

So the deal is off.

Aside from the encroaching self-doubt, which is always around (and sometimes latent), I’m sure I’ll find another publisher eventually.  Meanwhile, I will keep working on the mess-in-progress [update: the manuscript formerly known as “the mess-in-progress” is my novel, The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival].

When getting rejections from agents and publishers, my practice has been to allow myself anywhere from a few minutes to a day of self-pity.  It will take a bit longer to get over this one.  They accepted my novel more than a year ago, so the process of getting a contract and then negotiating has taken awhile.  If I can take a large view of it, this is for the best, but right now, it’s painful.

Here are a few things I have learned about how to navigate this terrain, in no particular order:

1) Talk to other writers and people who have been through this before.  Don’t be shy to ask questions.  Depend on (and thank) those people who offer smart advice.

2) Don’t announce anything until you have a signed contract.

3) Don’t sign a contract you’re not comfortable with–even when not signing leads to more delays and disappointments.  If you don’t have an agent, hire a professional to look over a contract before you sign it.

4) Be as dispassionate as you can about these negotiations.  Like buying a house, remember it’s a business transaction.  (This is difficult, because it is the nature of creative people to love what we create, so the risk of hurt is very close.)

5) There are no proper emoticons for certain kinds of disappointment.

6) Looking into the shadowy places can be terrifying, but is crucial to the evolution of an artist.

I know I have plenty more publishable words and stories in me.  Though I entertained the thought for a few minutes last night, I won’t let this make me quit writing.

As my wise mentor, Jim Krusoe, would say, “Onward.”


7 thoughts on “Things I’ve learned from not getting a publishing contract

  1. Rebecca!! (I’ve used Jim’s phrase “Onward” many times in my life!) :-)

    I am so sorry to hear about this. It is such a tricky thing to navigate by yourself. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, etc you may have as you move forward. I don’t know everything, but I’ve played the game in many different arenas now. The biggest thing is what you already know — the writing is what matters. The writing is where we become whole.


  2. So very sorry to hear of your disappiontment! Know that those who care share your pain. I’m still learning to handle the funk when a short story is rejected; can’t imagine what I would do a contract stage.

    The right publisher is out there – onward, indeed! Hugs.

  3. Thanks, Laraine–I’d love to talk to you more about this (and I have your writing books on my shelf to enjoy after the end of term madness is over–really looking forward to reading them!)

    And thanks, Cyndi. It’s nice to have friends with whom to commiserate. I’m learning all the time… which is usually good, even if it’s painful…

  4. That is too bad. There is entirely much “too bad” going around in the world of publishing. And the whole contract business (I don’t care for business, really) keeps changing as the times change, which makes things difficult and confusing.

    Good cheer, anyway!

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