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After Fifty Rejections What Are We To Do With Our Four Hundred Page Manuscript?

You just spent two years writing a novel, explored the annals of your memory, took out every book in the library to properly research the subject and even spent the family’s vacation money, denying them weeks on Hawaii’s big island, so you could fully incorporate your heritage on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean into the book. Now, the novel sits proudly on the edge of your computer table in the inspiration room, a four hundred page manuscript. You cannot place this heavenly thing on the coffee table in the family-room, in fact you must lock the inspiration room door, because after fifty rejections from mainstream literary agents and publishers your family would enjoy ripping your prize to shreds. Somewhat of an overreaction on their part, well. . . there is that one slip up.
After one lovely month in Sierra Leone where you met relatives, sampled the local brew, interviewed the village big wigs, even told your new friends how you were going to lionize them in your book, a one hand insurgent you interviewed told you about rough diamonds costing mere peanuts just a fifteen mile trek into the jungle from Freetown. What material for the book! What personal experience! Fear does not know your name because you are a creator of books; in addition, the illegal diamond purchase will pay for the trip and reinstate you with a family much peeved for destroying their vacation.
You figured you would be more nervous appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show than marching into a locale where no fool would ever tread. You find those strung out rebels with machetes and Kalashnikovs, illegal diamond sellers the authorities would behead on the spot, nice people, and the deal went off okay, and the five carat diamond you swallowed will bring you a nice profit.
Your plan is simple. Board the flight. Fly home. Take the vacation. Write the book. No problem. Except! What seemed to be a backward, chewed up piece of West Africa where authorities had heretofore been unable to detect a rhinoceros being smuggled out of the country has recently purchased a full body scanner from friends in Belgium that detects a lump in your stomach. The authorities do not call the doctor. You are whisked off to a filthy, rat infested, pitch black dungeon somewhere on the outskirts of Freetown.
Turning over the diamond does not make your jailers friendlier nor does it gain your release. It does gain you, after seven days of intense mishandling, a candle that you light in your solitude. The objects hanging from the ceiling you thought were wind chimes you discover are a collection of human skulls. Personal experience can only go so far—you not only panic you go space bound ballistic begging for mercy. Mercy is expensive: your spouse must sell the priceless wedding ring set, plus take out a high interest second mortgage on the ranch house; your son must sacrifice the two week chance of a lifetime soccer camp with David Beckham, and your daughter must give up her three weeks at the School of American Ballet with a guaranteed audition at the world famous Lincoln Center in New York City.

Snickering at the workplace drives your wife bonkers, as word has leaked out to her coworkers regarding your failure to get published; she is dropped from her venerable book club. At your kid’s school, everyone is passing around a YouTube recording dramatizing you, a sobbing, bare butt captive begging on hands and knees not to be beheaded. Student laughter is so uproarious that the principal must ring the fire bell to clear the hallways. It seems the Sierra Leone authorities, in addition to being astute business people, enjoy film making. For you, the fame, the fortune, the book tours, the movie deals, awe stricken glances from library clerks go—poof.

Each day after you unlock the inspiration room door, you must deal with your child gathering dust, resurrecting the FIFTY REJECTIONS of your 400 page manuscript at five cents a page copy plus priority postage—“not for us,” “ good luck,” “not taking on new clients”, a quick “NO THANKS” email and the cruel, most frequent rejection of all—silence. Needless to say that once barricaded in the inspiration room there is only one object more persona non grata than you. It sits proudly on your computer table.
So what to do with the manuscript? It is not a painting to hang on the storeroom wall, not a musical creation you recorded on your computer to play when friends have had too much to drink; it is not even a lopsided handcrafted, Creative Arts One pottery bowl for morning cereal.
Not all of us experience the aforementioned dilemmas, but to write a book of respectable length does demand sacrifice, therefore the creation deserves more than gathering dust on the table. There is an answer, and it is SELF PUBLISHING.
There is a certain prestige associated with mainstream publishing and a certain stigma associated with self publishing. ‘The times they are changing,’ and the positive and negative connotations are not as powerful as they were twenty-five years ago.
The following assessments are not meant to suggest we should not explore every opportunity in mainstream publishing for the high priests still hold the keys to the temple doors, even though their religion as currently practiced is counter productive to literature. The major publishing houses are mostly owned by conglomerates such as the Murdock Empire,, gutting esteemed publishers such as Scribners, Knoph, etc. They are more interested in promoting the bottom line than original literature—pursuing the sure profit rather than the risk that goes along with an unknown writer who they cannot place in a genre or celebrity slot. For instance, literary fiction that they all claim to worship is a thing of the past. Genre fiction such as Chick Lit with its structured format is in. Publishers have become priests in fundamentalist temples where writers have to be born again to enter. Their bible tolerates little deviation from the monetary gospel. The acolytes to these priests are the agents who all say they welcome literary fiction, but are so into genre fictions, they would not recognize a literary work if it emerged from between their legs. They would trash it just like they routinely trash unsolicited manuscripts each day.
That stated, let us get into the mechanics of mainstream publishing. The big cash advance—ha, ha, ha. We feel we need the mainstream copy and line editing, the established printing and cover design to make our books competitive in the marketplace. With self publishing, although not always required, we would be foolish not to hire an independent professional at two to four dollars a page to edit our manuscript. But unlike in mainstream publishing, we keep artistic control—no need to jam in reaffirmations of life or boy meets girl stuff if the tale does not require it. Also, no deadline will haunt us. At our disposal, so much exists-- clip art, photo shop and drawing software—to design a cover and printed page layout in the blink of an eye.
What about the mainstream machinery that promotes, advertises and hypes its sales force to peddle our books? Chances are as an unknown, we are going to get very little of that. With self publishing we take control over all of those operations, plus cyber space is at our disposal. We can take our books to local libraries, bookstores, sell at community art centers and most importantly—create our own web site and with current technology dramatize our books there.
We have read where the mainstream mechanism has established contacts with London and foreign publishers and with juicy Hollywood Producers. We can bypass all that by putting our pages onto foreign computer screens throughout the world. For example, we can promote directly to European and Asian audiences by simply translating our intro web page and putting out some good keywords in French, Italian, Japanese, etc. If we know getting an agent to respond favorably to an unsolicited manuscript is a long shot, getting a movie producer with clout to respond is akin to finding life in a distant galaxy, because there are as many manuscripts and ideas in free fall as there are stars in the sky. Once again the internet is a much stronger film industry contact.
There are many self publishers who print on demand (POD): some such as are free; some such as Amazon’s BookSurge can charge in the thousands of dollars, but the latter offers professional page editing, some distribution, so is not as expensive as first viewed. Free POD books can be more expensive to sell, making the book difficult to compete with mainstream paperbacks. Buying twenty-five copies from a contracted self publisher can reduce the selling price.
The upcoming contender, the one that will knock conventional publishing on its butt, is digital publishing, e.g., Amazon’s Kindle will take our books at this very moment, if we have an ISBN. Conventional book buyers are dropping off because of the cost of books, the lack of original literature and younger generations enamored with digital screens. Book buyers no longer spend big bucks on so-much-of-the-same literature, but for a digital book at a fifth of the cost, they will take a chance that they will want to read past two chapters.
So as book theology transitions to self and digital publishing, family and friends will come to accept that we are book creators, doing our best to let the world know our prized possessions exist. That we are not going to be thwarted by mainstream rejections, arrogance, snickers and condensations, that we are writers who intend to write a second and third book, because we do not really need mainstream publishers. If you want to see what I mean go to

Chuck Fair--Fiction Writer

Check out my new titles, "White, Red, Black & Blue" and "Hellpath 1859,"


The following comments are for "After Fifty Rejections What Are We To Do With Our Four Hundred Page Manuscript?"
by ChuckFair

after 50 rejections...
Hi Chuck Fair, let me tell you that after receiving letters that said things like: 'we don't have a need for this right now,' and 'this is not what we're looking for,' I know what you mean.

I, too, have been wondering what to do with my latest 200 plus page manuscript, or if I should even take the time and energy to pen another book.
And after these publishers send you those letters, isn't it funny how they also tell you good luck at the very end.

Unless writers are involved in some kind of job that pays them for what they do, writing can be a pretty thankless task or as some call it, a hobby. Just a hobby. Something else that denotes a sense of unimportance to what serious writers like some of us out here are trying to accomplish.

( Posted by: JudyRamsook [Member] On: July 23, 2008 )

400 Pages Rejected...
Yes Amazon will take your books for a Kindle Read and it's free to the reader.

My friend has a kindle book on Amazon entitled, A Little Death in Dixie and it is getting rave reviews.

Her publisher ask her, Lisa when are you going to write another book? She replied, NEVER..I spent 6 years researching...and that's it...

You believed in your manuscript then and nothing has changed except you...Don't give up...

( Posted by: JetfireK [Member] On: December 31, 2010 )

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