I’ve just submitted a very lengthy and comprehensive proposal for my latest ghosted book. It’s a hell of a story, detailing the life of guy who literally danced his way out of deep trouble and into the very highest reaches of showbiz. It’s what you might call a rollercoaster of a read, if you were so inclined. The author isn’t well known at all, but he deserves to be. Hopefully when the book is published he will get the recognition long overdue to him.
I say ‘when’ the book is published. Of course, I mean ‘if’. The author and I have worked very hard on the proposal and this being his first book, he’s understandably nervous about what happens next. The proposal is now with my literary agent and after he’s read it and made comments, it will go out to around a dozen UK publishing houses.
Having been through this many times now, I’m nervous too. As a ghostwriter I invest an enormous amount of time in proposals – for no financial gain – and while rejection isn’t something to take personally, it’s also very difficult to take rejection for granted, as we all have to do from time to time.
If a completed manuscript – or a well-researched idea, at least – isn’t simply going to sit in the bottom drawer for ever, a writer must face the fact that not everyone will like what he’s written. This can be a real eye-opener for some people, not least first-time authors who haven’t yet developed the hide of a herd of elephants. And in today’s publishing climate you certainly need that.
I’ve had books rejected on the grounds that the editor “loved it, but couldn’t get it through the meetings.” There was also “an amazing and compelling account, but I didn’t like the ending” – this from a non-fiction proposal too. I’ve even had someone practically tell me the whole thing was a dungheap of misinformation and downright lies. This latter comment was particularly cruel, but revenge was sweet when it was eventually published to critical acclaim.
I always reserve a wry smile for the phrase “after careful consideration…” which usually precedes a rejection. In this fast-paced, trend-driven, Twitter-frenetic publishing world I wonder how much actual time there is left for ‘careful consideration’, or indeed much consideration at all? It doesn’t make me cross – it is as it is – but sometimes I ee little point in maintaining a veneer of politeness given that the subtext is all too evident.
Still, I carry on regardless and promise myself that, if rejected, I’ll cheer myself up by getting accepted next time. Outright rejection is rare but it happens; I once put a proposal together about a well-known lawyer which hit editors’ desks in the week of the 2008 stock market crash. Suddenly, wealthy lawyers and their fat cat clients were no longer the flavour of the month and the proposal received 12 straight rejections. A year previously and we’d have sailed through. Bad timing, and bad luck.
So, I’m crossing fingers, toes and eyes for this latest one, but even though I believe in it and desperately want to see it on the shelves, it’s very much 50/50. Let’s see what next week brings…..