Very soon after I finished my novel--My God, What Have We Done?--I put together a list of what seemed to me suitable literary agents and began sending out queries, including whatever combination of synopsis and sample chapters each agent requested. (Major publishers no longer will accept submissions from writers directly.) But soon the rejections began pouring in—most of them standard form rejections, some with a polite, handwritten greeting. The gist of the form rejections was that since the selection process is highly subjective, I should persist in looking for an agent who would be a good match for me.
After way too many of these rejections, I thought maybe I was destined to remain “single” and never find my match. With something of a sense of defeat,
I redirected my publishing efforts towards literary small presses. Though publication by one of these seemed like less of a triumph, I anticipated a whole different culture, a small-town, everybody-knows-your-name other-world of publishing.
The first small press I appealed to (I will not be naming names) did not respond to my query even though I had sent along the required self-addressed stamped envelope. After a few months with no response, I emailed the editor, who didn’t acknowledge my email. I had to force myself not to retaliate with an angry letter. One small press publisher did send me a rather lengthy email, shaming me for equating marital struggles with the invention of the most heinous weaponry known to humankind, a charge that, I felt, mischaracterized my book. But then, she’d only read a synopsis. More recently, I heard back from just one of the few other small presses I queried.
How I long for the impersonal yet predictable rejection letters of those New York agents!