Lately, I’ve been haunting my Inbox. Back in the day of typewriters, large manila envelopes and trips to the post office, writers haunted their mailboxes, hoping for a sale, dreading the rejections. In today’s digital world, most submissions (not all) are made by email and thus it is at the inbox where you discover whether an editor loves your baby and wants to publish it or has decided to pass on it. It’s been a trend in the last few years for no rejection to arrive. If you haven’t had a reply in say four to five months, you can figure it’s a No, which allows you to go on to Plan B, if you haven’t already submitted somewhere else.
I submitted a proposal (detailed synopsis) to a publisher by email two and half months ago and the request for the first three chapters came within a few weeks. That was followed by the request (JOY!) for the completed manuscript. The editor who is considering my story has given me a date of December 15 (on or before) for her final word. All of this has transpired by email.
So that any communications wouldn’t be lost in the daily inundation that fills my regular email, I sent all of this from an account that I use for writing business only. Conveniently, I have the app on my phone and when an email comes in, it shows up on the app. All I need to do is look at the app and see if any new messages have come through. It’s pretty handy, but it does tempt me to check that app numerous times in a day. I can’t say it’s better than walking to the mailbox, because at least that involved some exercise, but it certainly does keep the anticipation high. While one check of the mailbox a day was all it took to know whether you’d gotten a reply, checking the email app can, and does, happen often in 24 hours. I have to say, it puts an entirely different perspective on the submission process.
My writing/publishing history goes back far enough to remember when rejected manuscripts were actually returned in the self-addressed stamped envelope that the author provided and was a submission requirement. I remember peering into the mailbox, wondering if I would see the tell-tale large yellow envelope, hoping to see a regular business size one that included an acceptance. Of course there was also The Call that every writer lived to receive. The one where a real live editor actually spoke to you, told you how wonderful your story was and how much they wanted to buy it. One memory that stands out is the time I was sweeping the kitchen floor and for the moment not thinking about writing when the phone rang. When the caller identified herself as xxxxx from xxxx publisher, I, not paying attention, almost said, “No thank you, I’m not interested in whatever you’re selling.” (There were telemarketers back then but no caller ID.) Fortunately, before I made a complete fool of myself, I heard her say, “We’d like to publish your book.” I guess I’ll always remember that call.
I’m not sure if the waiting ever gets any easier. I think not when I count the times I’ve checked my phone app in the past few weeks, hoping for an early answer. It’s just a different method of delivery. Writers throughout time have had to wait. It’s really what we do best.