I thought it would take me three months at least, but I did it – working all day, practically – in exactly a month. Which is the fastest I’ve ever written a book.
Reason to be thrilled, I suppose. And I was. On Wednesday, when I had the end I wanted, I was pretty happy – the kind of writer’s high you get when you’ve written something and you know it’s good.
The trouble with writing a book, though, is that writing the book is the easy part. That’s the fun part, the picnic. It’s only after the book is written that you start the long, hard slog to find a publisher.
You’d think it’d get easier after the first one, even easier after the second or third. But it doesn’t. Sigh. Not only is each barrier a brand new barrier, it sometimes (apparently) becomes a tougher barrier. This, I hadn’t expected.
My agent, who told me bluntly that he’s not interested in this or any other of my future endeavours unless I hit the jackpot, explained that when your published books don’t do well, then publishers don’t want to look at any of your new work.
At one level that makes sense. Publishers have a business to run and they want to print books that will sell.
However, it also makes you wonder. What about all those authors whose first one or two or three books went nowhere and they finally became international bestsellers with their nth attempt? If I recall correctly from her autobiography, Agatha Christie was one of those. So, clearly, her publisher thought it worthwhile taking a chance on several of her books before she made it big.
Of course, I’m no Agatha Christie, I know that. I’m just saying. I’m prepared for each new book to be judged on its own merit (though, going by the latest yawn-inducing offerings of some erstwhile awesome authors, that’s not always the case either). But for a book to be summarily discarded because previous books by the author – although superb pieces of writing in their own rights (ahem!) – didn’t make it big in the market would mean that someone whose first book is not a bestseller is just doomed. That can’t be right?
But my agent is supposed to be the best in the business. He should know. And so it is certainly disheartening to know that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with my upcoming works of genius.
It’s also disheartening because it means I have to do the whole business of sending out my manuscript to publishers all on my own. And that’s so not fun. It’s tedious and tense and discouraging.
And yet… here’s the good part about your nth attempt at fame and glory. I know there’s no fame and glory to be found at the end of the tunnel. But I also know that I’ve been here before and I’ve got through it. I struggled for years to get my first and then my second book published. Well, they finally did get published. So I know that – win or lose – it’s a question of persistence, of not losing faith in yourself. I’ve been in this lonely place before, where no one knows what you’ve written and no one thinks it’s worth publishing. This work of mine might never in fact get published… but I’ve looked that disappointment in the face before and survived. It can’t be so bad the third time around, can it?