Perhaps the most interesting thing about this unpublished novel
is . . . there's an unpublished sequel. Of course, you can't SAY there's a sequel when querying it to agencies, as the first novel of any series has to stand on its own. And though there were some loose ends (and something of a cliffhanger) at the end of the first, I didn't really set out to write a sequel. My plan was basically to write some character sketches or background to make the first novel stronger, but 85,000 words later, what I had on my hands was a full-fledged sequel.
I remember smiling at the time I finished it, thinking to myself, "Is there anything crazier than writing a sequel to AN UNPUBLISHED NOVEL?" Couldn't think of one.
At any rate, since I've already done the self-publishing thing and the Kindle thing, my plan was to touch base with the publisher who was looking at the manuscript, get the rejection out of the way already, and go ahead and publish both books to the Kindle on Halloween. This would basically clear out all my unpublished stuff, and I guess in my head I believed would allow me to start something fresh and new without wondering if the stuff I was sitting on had any merit at all.
So I sent the e-mail to the publisher a few days ago, said basically "I can take it. No need to let me down easy" and let's just get this the hell out of the way. And when I checked my e-mail this morning, the response was waiting.
But I wasn't ready to read it yet, and anyway, there was another message waiting from someone whose name I didn't recognize. Turns out, it was from someone on the staff of a very well-regarded short story market that had rejected one of mine a few months ago. The title of the e-mail was something like "About that story we rejected a few months ago." So I read the e-mail and it goes something like this:
Dear Brendan: You don't know me, but I'm the guy who first read your story and liked it enough to pass it up the chain. I know we didn't end up accepting it (and people have different tastes) but I just wanted you to know that I really liked your story and want you to submit to us again.
Enough to make you cry, isn't it? The guy had no reason at all to send something like that except to give encouragement. That's one reason that sometimes, this business gives me hope.
So about an hour and a sausage biscuit later, I'm ready to read the obligatory rejection from the publisher. But . . . it wasn't a rejection. She's been going through a pile of manuscripts and is very much looking forward to reading mine. In fact, the very first line of the e-mail was "Don't give up hope!"
And I won't.
Not today, anyway.