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.


    • 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.


  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.


    • 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.


  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!!


    • 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.


  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!


    • 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.


  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:)


    • 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.


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