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.