Why am I so excited about this? It's not the first short story I have had published, nor is it the first one where the other people involved chose me totally on the merits of the story, not on friendship, or involvement in the project.
I have not have hundreds of stories published, but I am satisfied with my progress. I have enough credentials to serve on panels at conferences, appear at writers' events and have a bunch of friends who are writers.
I had submitted previously to this publisher and been rejected. If I haven't learned anything else about writing I have learned that rejection is par for the course. I have a drawer full of rejection slips from the time when they still came in the mail. Now I have a file on my computer.
I was thinking of myself as a successful writer when I submitted "The Devil's Quote" to Darkhouse Books. Once I submit a manuscript I list it on my work file and forget I sent it.
I started work on two new stores. One was for my own fun, the other was for a particular anthology. One is now out there waiting for someone to judge it. The other isn't ready to go yet.
I don’t even remember how I found out that this story had been accepted. Must have been an e-mail from the editor Andrew Macrae. Contracts signed, the story came back for a few edits. My philosophe on edits is that I will make all the changes an editor requests unless I feel strongly enough about the change to be willing to pull the story if the editor disagrees.
Two edits I have refused to make on previous stories:
The murderer hid behind a bush, and I was asked to change "bush" to "shrub". I made all the other changes but said the connotation of "shrub" is that it is something too small to hide behind. I was willing to find another word if she wanted me to. "Bush" it was.
The other was in a work set in the 1880s in which I used the word "policeman". “What about policewomen?” asked the editor. The Washington police force was not going to start hiring women for another five years. Since I could prove I was right, the editor backed down. I have a reputation for getting the historical stuff right.
Then the cover was in my email one morning. I fell in love. I have seen so many crummy covers lately that I was not expecting much. But this one was perfect.
The time between the cover reveal and having a book in hand was unbearable. I felt the way most writers say they feel between the time they send out a manuscript and the time they hear back with either rejection or acceptance.
If you are thinking about submitting for the first time consider these tips:
- Send the best manuscript you can. Follow the guidelines. Don't send more than is requested. No notes from you mother or your dog saying how great the story is. This is a business transaction, so be businesslike.
- Before you get back a rejection, know where you are going to send the manuscript next. Do so at once.
- If you are submitting something and it comes back with edits requested, think carefully about refusing to make the changes the editor requests. Editors are smart and knowledgeable. They know how to make a story better, and fit it to the readers.