My Road To Publication Is Paved With Yawns

Someone fetch me caffeine. This woman’s about to bore us.

Good thing I’m not a historian or the world would be in trouble. I don’t keep tabs on times and events, and I don’t maintain a journal. I also tend to trash papers and documents after reading them.

This tidy lack of sentimentality complicates posting a summary of my writing journey. The good news is, the story is boring. And therefore short.

When my family relocated from Iowa to Ohio in 2001—we Rubins like to move up in the world—I took time off with my toddler and infant, back when the only turds I had to deal with were from diapers, not mouths. I’d always wanted to write a book, so I said, “Why not now?”

In a year I had my first novel completed.

And it blew chunks. Big, smelly ones.

Trust me, it stunk.

So I started another story. In 2003-2004, I wrote The Seneca Scourge. Once ready to submit, I purchased the latest Writer’s Market, the go-to manual for a list of agents and publishers. But just in case I produced another stinker, I sought a professional manuscript critique.

After revising uncovered plot holes, I queried a handful of agents. And got rejected. I queried more agents. And got rejected. I don’t know how many times—I don’t save anything, remember? I’m guessing fifteen to twenty?

Not all dismissals were the standard form letter. Some agents requested sample chapters, but I inevitably heard, “We like the medical thriller angle, but we don’t represent science fiction.”

Crossing genres is a no-no when you’re a wannabe author. I know that now. Wish I’d known it then. But I was trying to shake up an overdone genre.

Another agent claimed my story intrigued, but a thriller should never be written in first person. Never? Really? I’ve read some that were. But I appreciated any feedback I could get, so I took her advice and rewrote the manuscript in third person. Then I sent it out again.

Rejected, rejected, you just got rejected.

Well, I can always go back to cleaning fast food restaurants. That was fun.

And so, over a five-year period, this cycle repeated. But by now I was back at work, juggling job and family. The manuscript vanished from my thoughts for months—even years—at a time. Occasionally, I’d click it open, tweak a few scenes, and maybe even query an agent or publisher.

And as always, life got in the way.

But despite my busy existence, the desire to write never diminished. In 2011, during a time of career transition, I decided to either give the manuscript another chance or let it forever rest in peace. In other words, s**t or get off the pot. I opened the file, its pale pages devoid of sunlight since the last revision in 2009 (which is why the story takes place in that year), and gave it a reread. And another chance at life.

Researching my options, I discovered the publishing world of 2011 no longer resembled its 2006 predecessor, the last year I seriously queried. Why keep chasing a bigger publishing house? I’d never capture that flag.

I explored e-book publishing. Many electronic publishers had sprouted in my absence, and I researched their various sites, particularly those that would accept a cross-genre novel.

Selecting one with an eight-year track record and a print-on-demand (POD) option, I submitted my query in June 2011. Three months later I received an acceptance letter.

To which I figured, it’s now or never.

Last time I did this I got a water enema.

In my next post, I’ll share my experience since signing the contract. Remember, I told you I’d post three entries related to my novel, and then I’d shut up about it. Until the novel’s release, that is…

When do you get your writing done? Morning? Evening? If you’re writing a book, how long have you been working on it? Have you ever queried an agent or publisher? If you’re not a writer, do you have a hobby that’s difficult to pursue due to family and work demands?

All images from Microsoft Clip Art

Related Articles (My first three blog posts, before I enacted self-imposed word limits. Read at your own risk.)

Who Am I Kidding?

Making The Leap

Every Which Way But Traditional

142 Responses to “My Road To Publication Is Paved With Yawns”

  1. Earth2Body Sisters

    I feel discouraged. My desire to write is clearly greater than my available time and talent. You give me hope. If nothing else, it sounds like a really exciting journey. ;-) Oh, and never a boring post! People are clearly interested in your journey as a writer.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I think a good degree of “talent” comes from practice (not all, of course, but a decent enough percentage). It’s the time factor, however, that’s often the tricky part.
      :)

      Like

  2. doncarroll

    i come by way of sheila pierson. your synopsis of how you got into writing and all the ups and downs that came along with it is understandable. novel writing is certainly a huge undertaking especially when one throws all the intanglibles of life in with it – kids etc. i certainly understand about how it feels to get rejected in the early going, and it can dampen one a bit. congrats to the contract on your novel. i’m merely a poet and i tend to focus on the shorter writes, but if they’re not entirely to large i’m good with that.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Yes, life definitely has a way of taking over, pushing the writing to the side. Then again, as they always say, if we really want something, we’ll make time for it. I suppose for a while I figured the rejections meant it wasn’t going to go anywhere. But when it finally came time to either throw in the towel or get with the program, I decided I’d get with the program. There. How’s that for a lot of clichés?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it.
      :)

      Like

  3. Anastasia

    I have to say…you and Jennifer Eaton have some admirable fortitude. I lose interest in anything that rejects me. Hehehe. I once submitted something to a publisher (cant remember when or who) and he was very positive and helpful. Told me to keep writing and sending, that it was good. I guess I was too busy to pursue it. If I’d gotten a rejection I wouldn’t have even wanted to. There’s tons of stories about authors who repeatedly get rejected, for brilliant work. Just keep going!!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      The rejections are hard at first, but looking back now, I realize I sent it out before it was ready. Still, I’m sure it would continue to be rejected by agents and big publishers–I’m not Stephen King. But I’m all right with that. At least I’m taking the first step. If I fall, I fall.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope your world is tolerable.
      :)

      Like

  4. susan sheldon nolen

    I just loved this post and your sense of humour just makes my week. My gosh we have all been there. Looking forward to the next installement! Cheers!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Oh, that is a great quote! I love it. Isn’t that the older woman who starred in those Clint Eastwood movies with the orangutan? She was hilarious.

      Like

  5. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    I am so amazed you sat on the book for 5 years, but can so understand it as I’ve started & stopped & started for more than that. The reason I began this blog was to force me to”expose” my intended work. I never imagined I’d get such wonderful comment, but it encouraged my low self esteem to see I just might have “something” to offer…

    I’m definitely coming back to hear # 2 & # 3. I congratulate you! Excellent :)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! And yes, I, too, have been overwhelmed by the supportive comments people have left me. Helps keep the self-doubt at bay.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      :)

      Like

  6. Smaktakula

    As so often happens, I have arrived late to the party. However, although I am likely covering ground which has already been thoroughly trampled by other commenters who have likely said it better than I can, I shall offer this redundant rhetoric in my own inimitable way.

    Iowa to Ohio. That adds a bright new panel in the broad quilt that is The Life of Connie Rubin. To cut to the chase, have you ever resided in a state that boasted either a) livability or b) a variation in elevation of over 1000′? I wonder where else you’ve lived? Oklahoma? Saskatchewan? Siberia?

    I think your story, as unsentimental as it is, is a great one not just for aspiring writers, but for anyone who has aspirations of doing a thing outside the scope of the everyday. As I’m sure you’re aware, the one constant in your narrative (excepting the 2005-11 pause, although I do think “the break” or “pause” has its place in any writing regimen) is your persistence in the face of rejection. Talent is only a baseline–if you didn’t have it, you most likely wouldn’t reach the second and subsequent steps. However, without persistence, reaching that second step would be just about as difficult. There are ‘true” overnight success stories, but they are so rare as to be statistical anomalies.

    You are a true success story, and an example toward which to aspire.

    I do consider myself an historian, albeit an amateur. Dates often hold an immense amount of significance to me. And I’ve kept a daily journal all but the first nine months of my adult life. Just saying.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Where to begin? Where to begin? First of all, thanks so much for those nice words. They mean a lot, and sometimes, when my self-doubt is kicking my ass, I actually come back and reread some of these wonderful comments. I know that’s dorky, but it helps.

      Second of all, I knew that Iowa to Ohio thing wouldn’t escape you. And I had to laugh, because believe it or not, I spent five years as a child in Saskatchewan, Canada, living in a trailer in the middle of arctic nowhere. I guess the only redeeming place I’ve lived is my year in Paris as an Au Pair girl, but my living accomodations were so horrid, it doesn’t really count.

      And finally, I know it’s ridiculous for a writer to not keep a journal. But in my defense, I do take notes now on places I visit and other things I think might make for good writing.

      Thanks for visiting. Hope your deadline responsibilities are going well.

      Like

      • Smaktakula

        I know that’s dorky, but it helps

        It certainly is–but I’m a big believer in “whatever works.” I warm my voice up by repeating “I Am The Very Model of a Major Modern General.” See, that’s dorky AND gay.

        I know it’s ridiculous for a writer to not keep a journal

        Although that was PART of the reason I started all those years ago, I’m suspicious of anything you’re SUPPOSED to do to be a better writer (except read and write; that notion seems to me unassailable). Having said that, it was about the time I started keeping a journal that OTHER people (teachers, friends, etc) began to regard my writing as good.

        because believe it or not, I spent five years as a child in Saskatchewan, Canada,

        I can’t imagine why you would think I wouldn’t believe that.

        my year in Paris as an Au Pair girl

        Oh, so thanks to the Alps, you have lived in a place with elevation variations exceeding 1000′. Now you can work on ‘livable!’

        Hope your deadline responsibilities are going well.

        Thanks for asking. The deadline’s Sept 3rd, and I’ll let you know what the producers have yet to learn–it’s gonna be a little late. It can’t be too late, though–I signed a contract for a new project to begin in by the end of September.

        I’m a lot more proud of the quality this time out. Thanks again for asking–I appreciate it!

        Like

        • Carrie Rubin

          I’m impressed. Sounds like your endeavors are leading to even more successes. Good for you.

          As for breaking my comment up line by line, I only wish you had been available while I worked on my line edits. But as always, you make me laugh. Thanks to you alone, my post-blogging blood pressure is probably a point or two lower than my pre-blogging blood pressure. Just don’t send me a bill.

          Like

  7. kateshrewsday

    Keep buggering on, as Churchill said. I think you’re amazing for persevering and having faith in yourself. Must take a leaf out of that book!

    Like

  8. Lynn Schneider

    I like the posts about your path to publication! It sounds like you have exactly the right attitude. There are a lot of great writers out there and it’s hard to get noticed, unless you come up with some really unusual subject (Fifty Shades of Crappy Writing comes to mind). To be a true writer, you can’t be in it for the money, that’s what I’ve come to realize.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I agree. And to be honest, I haven’t even thought about any money. I have no delusions in that department. I just hope I don’t end up with a bunch of one-star reviews.
      :)

      Like

  9. whiteladyinthehood

    Carrie, this was a great post! It wasn’t boring at all. You are just so relatable and “real”, there is no fake pretense about you. You’re the voice that says – Take the Leap and if you stumble its OKAY, keep going…(that’s very inspiring).

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you so much for saying that. One of the wonderful “side effects” of blogging that I hadn’t planned for is the encouragement I get from other bloggers. As we all know, self-doubt loves to rear its ugly head, so your words offer reassurance and are much appreciated.
      :)

      Like

  10. Arizona girl

    I like that you’re crossing genres with your book and am looking forward to reading it! I write whenever I get the urge. If there are no urges, I sit myself down at a coffee house. If that doesn’t help, at least I got out of the apartment and had some caffeine :)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! And as for caffeine and urges, if I drink enough of the stuff, I’ll have urges all right. Of the bladder kind.
      :)

      From what I’ve seen from your blog, scenic Germany might trigger writing urges as well. Very lovely.

      Like

  11. butimbeautiful

    I read that with great interest. I’ve never really tried to get published – I’m one of those writers who puts all their energy into writing and just has none left over for marketing the product. So I admire your effort – it even inspires me, a bit, to think maybe one day i WILL find the energy.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      You are right in suggesting the process of trying to get published and then marketing the product consumes a lot of time. I haven’t opened my WIP for a month now. Between the editing and now the learning about marketing, I haven’t had time. Which is a bit distressing to say the least. But I’m not complaining. It’s all new and exciting, and at my age, who doesn’t want that?
      ;)

      Like

  12. David Stewart

    I think you’re right that publishers are less likely to take a chance on cross-genre fiction, but I think there’s still a place for it. I tend to write a rather wide variety, so I guess I’d like to think so. In my job, I have the afternoons off, so that’s when I do most of my writing. Unfortunately, that’s when I’m the sleepiest too…Long live coffee.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I agree. I think that if something is new and fresh, there will be a market for it, even if it is a bit riskier path to take. And yes, afternoons are my sleepy time, too. If only I had time for naps…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  13. Polly Robinson

    Your experiences with this book are fascinating Carrie, I love your persistence.

    Geoff and I plotted and started a fantasy novel in the 80s, wrote around 34,000 words and it sits on our PCs now …

    I really look forward to hearing about what happened after you signed the contract … bet there are lots of other stories you could tell us … you’re such an editor! :)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thanks, Polly. I wish I could be sharing the story of my experience with a big New York publisher, but alas, that is not the case. But hopefully, someone will find the info useful. As long as I can slip some potty humor into the post…

      Like

  14. legionwriter

    Been working on my book for nearly four years. With the demands of life, it’ll be finished in about 60 years. I’ll probably find it unpublishable because it’s something akin to “Christian Fiction”, but it contains swear words.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      “something akin to “Christian Fiction”, but it contains swear words.”–Crossing genres, are you?
      ;)

      I still think if something is new and fresh, there will be a market. But unfortunately, when you’re a newbie, those agents like rules to be followed. And I hear you on the demands of life. Good luck with your book. Hopefully it won’t take 60 years. Maybe just 50…

      Like

  15. Dr. Erhumu

    A story of determination and perseverence. A particular bible passage I like goes: The vision is for an appointed time, though it tarry, wait for it. 2012 is the year appointed for it!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      What a great passage. And appropriate in this setting! And as you know, anything worth while takes hard work and persistence. Ah, remember those med school days?
      :)

      Like

  16. starlaschat

    I think writing in the morning is the easiest for me I tend to make a lot of errors when I’m tired. I wrote a few books. I know strange. I wrote several childrens books at least two or three which seems like several and illistrated them. I read one of my childrens books to my Dad and brother it was actually a really sweet moment. I also wrote one book that I can’t find it’s lost in a box some where in storage it’s the one thing I wish I could find. It was a lot of work. I wrote every day a page or two every morning while drinking my coffee. When I was really on roll I would write any where any time in the car in the shower that was tough in the shower.
    For now I just focus on working on my blog and occasionally writing jokes.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Writing in the shower. Now there’s a new one.
      :)

      But I think I know what you mean. We can write scenes in our head when we don’t have a computer or paper to jot them down on.

      You should dust off the children’s books and send them off. The Writer’s Market has an edition devoted just to children’s books.

      Like

      • starlaschat

        Your right getting an idea being away from the computer or paper it’s not ideal.
        I may have to re-thnik the childrens book idea. Unfortunetly they are in a random box too. Frustrating trying to seperate the wheat from the chaf in my life. Not an easy project. Oh well.

        Like

        • Carrie Rubin

          “trying to seperate the wheat from the chaf in my life.”—I loved that line.

          Just think, one of those children’s books buried in a random box could be the next big thing. You took the time to create them. Now it’s time to share them with others.
          :)

          Like

          • starlaschat

            Thank You Carrie that thought brought tears to my eyes. Maybe your right maybe it’s time to dust off that project. :+)
            Glad you liked my line about sperating the wheat from the chaf in my life. :+) It’s been my top focus for awhile and a huge challenge. I know it’s time and it needs to be done I wish that it was an easier process. I guess I just have to keep at it slow as it is!

            Like

            • Carrie Rubin

              As a very smart teacher from Montana named Navar says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
              ;)

              Good luck! (And thank your husband for giving me a wonderful quote. I always credit him when I use it.)
              :)

              Like

            • starlaschat

              Oh That great! :+) Thank You He says Thank You! :+) He just came in for his second breakfast he’s been over at the school getting his class room ready. Glad your enjoying the quote. :+) I love short quote they can be so helpful.

              Like

  17. Madame Weebles

    I would not have had the stomach to go through all of that. I don’t have a very thick skin–I suppose it might have gotten toughened over time if I had gone through this process, but still. You really have to want it to keep going until you get the Yes from a publisher. Right on, Carrie!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      There were definitely times I threw in the towel and said “Forget about it.” But some of the agents’ words were encouraging, at least enough to keep me going.

      Like

  18. Perfecting Motherhood

    Great story of persistence and adaptation! I think every writer has a story on how they got started and it’s unique. There’s no single path you have to follow to get published and today, things have changed so much in the publishing industry, the big publishers could care less about unknown writers. If you think you’ve got something good in your hands, the key is to keep trying. Some writers got over 100 rejections before being picked up, I see it as a number game.

    I haven’t had much time this summer to do any writing for work or leisure, and a lot of photo work either. I hope with my kids back in school over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have more free time for all of it. Unless something else happens that keeps me busy. It’s hard to predict life sometimes. Otherwise, we’d all be rich somehow.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      How true about it being hard to predict life. Just when we think we’ll finally get the time to do something (kids back in school, projects completed), something new comes up to consume us. So yes, persistence is key. Putting a little time in here and there. But there are always so many distractions. Then again, whenever I’m not able to write or work because of something my child needs, I remind myself they won’t always be here with me. I need to take the time with them when I can, because someday, I’m sure I’ll be longing for it.

      Like

  19. Dave

    Very cool. It takes tremendous persistence, doesn’t it? Congratulations on advancing toward your dreams!

    Like

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