My novel "Imperfect" has been 'passed on' (so much better than 'rejected') 27 times. The tears stopped after the 10th or so pass about a year ago and the hard wall was constructed around my psyche. Out of those 27 lovely-but-painful responses, 16 editors wanted to buy it but couldn't get the support they needed (most blamed the Marketing Departments). I am not, nor have ever been, a 'committee' writer. "Imperfect" follows two characters - a woman who has developed a cat purr as well as a hoarder. It is a coming-of-age, coming-to-terms-with-yourself type story, and while it is definitely quirky, I like to think it is also universal. I am positive that my first novel, about a woman getting pregnant from a lazy sperm, would never have passed the 'committee' had I written it today.
So, what does one do when they are voted off by the committee? Start their own! Thankfully, that has already been done. The writers I know who have gone this route feel empowered. They are able to set their own prices, have say in their covers (some even design them themselves), edit as needed and reap the financial rewards. Based on the authors I've spoken to and heard speak on panels, this landscape almost feels like the Gold Rush. The neurotic in me assumes the committees will eventually find a way to steal back the gold, to squeeze the power out of the author, but until then, I am joining all the other renegades out there who are throwing their stories into the atmosphere and seeing what flies.
Melissa Clark is the author of "Swimming Upstream, Slowly." In Spring, 2013 her piece "Rachael Ray Saved My Life" will appear in a food anthology to be published by Shambhala Publications. Please follow her here.