Disappointment and New Decisions

After waiting for 15 months, I finally heard back from HarperVoyager’s open submission contest yesterday.
Considering the odds (12 selected out of more than 4,500!), it isn’t surprising that I got a rejection. But it sucks to be so close (in the final week!) and yet still not be among those selected. (Worse, I just got a form letter. I had been hoping for maybe something more personal–and helpful in terms of understanding what to change–since I am in the final tier.)
On the other hand, each piece was looked over by several editors and other readers, and they liked my work enough to keep it to the bitter end. That means it must be pretty strong, right? Nigh-publishable, even if not exactly to their particular taste? That, in a way, is good news.
It’s still a bitter feeling to have waited so long and come so close, but I’m trying to take a positive feeling from it. It does, however, leave me to wait for new decisions: What do I do now?
I submitted that manuscript, Alt.World, to HarperVoyager’s contest because I had already gone through an unsuccessful round of queries that got me little response, and I was emotionally exhausted by the process. But now I have new hope and renewed energy, and I think I am going to spend a few months at least, using all that I’ve learned about writing a good query letter, to pitch it to agents again and restart the process.
However, it is a tough choice, and sometimes I wonder about self-publishing it and going (hopefully) the Wool route. It is a near-future speculative fiction work, after all, and I have some concerns that it is a little too close to real-world timelines. I feel like there is an imperative to get it out relatively soon before it becomes less relevant.
Tough choices.
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11 Comments

Filed under Publishing

11 responses to “Disappointment and New Decisions

  1. I know how it feels, all too well. But you’re right that if you made it that far, there was something about the work that they liked. Do NOT give up and go the self-publishing route until you have totally depleted all your options. Keep going!!!

  2. Hang in there! I submitted to them, too. I got my rejection 12 months later. Don’t give up on it! I agree with what Dawn said. 🙂

    • Good to hear from someone else with the long wait! I really like the manuscript, but it may be “too weird” for traditional publishers. All the responses have been that unhelpful “not a good fit.”

  3. Harry Heckel

    I’ve done both self-publishing and had a novel published by a major publisher. The royalties and support were exponentially better from the major publisher. I think if you came this close you might want to try an agent or look at other major publishers. You obviously have something really great on your hands. Good luck!

    • Wow, thanks for your advice. It’s so tough to know what to do in this changing marketplace — and let’s be honest, I’m terrified of failing. Thank you for the kind words!

  4. *hugs*

    I’m sorry and not that I want to parrot the other commentators but I believe in you and I am cheering for you!

  5. At least you lasted to the end! That has to be a good thing…or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I haven’t heard anything from Harper Voyager yet on my submission, and am getting antsy even after more than a year later.

    I haven’t been able to find representation yet, either, and will be experimenting with self-publishing in a few more months. You might find some success in that avenue, particularly if it the book really is “too weird” for the major publishing houses. Obviously we each need to make our own hard choices in this area, particularly with the way things are changing and evolving. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best. Keep us posted!

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