As I have said before, rejection by a publisher is not always because your work is not good enough. There are many other factors to be taken into consideration. Timing is the one that seems to be the major one. A publisher’s editor told me that if you submit to a publisher who has just signed a book similar to yours (for instance, fantasy/adventure) they will pass on yours so the books are not competing with each other. There are of course, many other reasons.        

This was reinforced when I received the following rejection letter. I had submitted my manuscript for the Mystery of Nida Valley to only a couple of publishers. It was returned, finally, (after 9 months with one, and six with the other). Both rejection letters were anything but standard.  This the last one I received and is from one of the major publishing houses:

 Thank you for submitting your well-written children’s manuscript, The Mystery of Nida Valley. We have carefully viewed and considered your manuscript; unfortunately, we have decided not to make an offer of publication. Deciding what to publish can be so very difficult, because we receive so many great stories which we have no choice but to turn down. Please understand that the fact that we cannot publish your book is in no way a reflection of the value of your manuscript. Thank you again for writing to us and we wish you every success in placing this manuscript elsewhere.’

 Now, if you are going to get a rejection letter, this is the one you want to receive. And while it is nice to have this validation of your manuscript, it does nothing to help you get published. So if you get to the point where your work is being praised, and it is still not accepted, what do you do now?

 That was the point where I decided to join the long list of famous authors like Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, John Grisham, Matthew Reilly – Jane Austin – Edgar Allan Poe – T.S. Elliot – D.H. Lawrence – George Bernard Shaw – Virginia Woolf – Margaret Atwood and many more, and independently publish my book.

 In the right conditions, handled properly, with realistic attitudes, self-publishing can be a viable business decision for certain people. But, there is still discrimination against independently published books. Some authors would never do it. They believe to have true validation of your work you must be chosen by a publisher. There is also the belief from many that any work not accepted by a publishing house is not worthy of publishing. After reading my letter, I’m sure you can see that is not true. They simply can’t fit into their schedule all the good books that come over their desk each year.

An agent speaking on the subject had this to say:

‘Most people now believe that the current mainstream method of selecting books for publication, editing them, and distributing those texts is archaic, inefficient, ineffective, often ill-informed, and frequently unfair. I won’t deny that. But, it remains the system that we have. Does that system pump out horrendous books that are the literary equivalent of roadkill? Absolutely. Does that system overlook and ignore worthy authors and genius books in favour of celebrity crap? Definitely. Nevertheless, it is still the system we have and the system we all understand.’

The agent believes that when you self-publish, you are essentially going around that system. And those not brave enough to do the same will look down on you – not because your book isn’t good enough, but because you didn’t follow the system.

 She says that most self-publishing proponents understand their position in regards to mainstream publishing and they realistically and objectively make their publishing choices. There are many famous writers who are living proof that self-publishing, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be quite effective and lucrative.

The agent concluded her post by saying:

“I’m not going to tell the people who emailed me they should not, under any circumstances, self-publish. I’ll just warn them about being realistic, objective, and honest. I’ll encourage them to focus on sales and quality of writing if they choose that route and not to lean back and applaud themselves for being a “published author”. Self-publishing is not necessarily better or worse than mainstream book industry, but it’s definitely not the same.’

My advice to anyone thinking about self-publishing is to make sure you have written the story the best of your ability, then have it read by others in the field (people who will be honest) who can check for inconsistencies or other problems in the story line. Then send it to a professional editor for a final polish.

And if you do decide to self-publish you will be in good company. Here is a broader list of famous self-published authors:

  • Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  • John Grisham, A Time to Kill
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box
  • Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen, Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
  • Beatrix Potter, creator of the Peter Rabbit Classic Series

And more …

Matthew Reilly – Jane Austin – Thomas Paine – Edgar Allan Poe – T.S. Elliot – Carl Sandberg – Gertrude Stein – Deepak Chopra – Upton Sinclair – D.H. Lawrence – George Bernard Shaw – e.e. cummings – Virginia Woolf – Margaret Atwood – Tom Clancy – Stephen Crane and Zane Grey just to mention a few.

My next post will detail the steps I have taken on my journey, and the results.


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