Twenty-one submissions went out to New York publishers in January.
I know now that a few of them would never have wanted my type of fiction (like sending a chick lit to a publisher who specializes in SF & Fantasy). Two or three publishers never responded at all. Two requested to see the full manuscript. The rest sent form rejection letters of the “your manuscript does not meet our needs at this present time” variety. [Note: I have a great Peanuts cartoon where Snoopy receives a similar rejection, followed by the sentence, “If it ever does, we’re in big trouble.” Chuckle.]
I made photocopies of the full manuscript (oh, by the way, the working title was On Wings of a Song) and shipped them off. The Writer’s Market said I would have to wait six to eight weeks for a reply.
Full of hope, I got to work on the sequel to On Wings of a Song. By the way, I advise all aspiring writers to do the same. Ship off your book and go to work on the next one. Otherwise, the waiting will kill you. And unless all you ever want to write is one book, this is good practice for the future when you may have deadlines, one right after the other.
Later, I would learn that over 100,000 novels were written every year and less than 1% of them got published, but at the time (1982), I didn’t know the odds were stacked against me. [Side Note: I’m pretty sure there are more than than 100k novels written per year nowadays, but I doubt the percentage that get published has changed much, even with the many self-publishing options readily available.]
Well, wonder of wonders! In April, I received a contract offer from one of the two publishers who requested the book. I raced to the library and got all of the publishing contract law books that were available (maybe two or three) and studied them carefully. In short order, the contract was signed and returned and I waited breathlessly for the pittance of an advance I’d agreed to. Who cared about the money? I was going to be published! My book was going to be in print!
When I still didn’t have my executed copy of the contract back with the advance check six weeks later (I was supposed to receive it in 30 days), I called the editor. She said she would look into it. That was in June.
By the end of July, I’d finished writing and typing the sequel, but I still didn’t have the contract and advance check. So I called again. The phone lines had been disconnected.
In August, upon returning from a camping vacation with my two daughters (I was a single mom, in case I haven’t mentioned that before), I learned the publisher had gone bankrupt. Shortly thereafter, I also learned I was going to be unemployed as the place where I worked was closing its doors. The next blow was that I had to move because the house we’d rented in May was being sold.
August/September 1982 was not a great time in my life!