So, having had my manuscript looked at and critiqued by a famous Canadian author (Miriam Toews - see below), it was time to get the thing published. I don't know what I expected, but what I hoped for was automatic praise, fame, and money. Is that unrealistic?
Two facts ran through my mind:
1) It took Frank Herbert over seven years before he was able to find a publisher for Dune.
2) Stephen King scored a huge hit with his first novel Carrie.
I figured if I could end up somewhere in-between those two, I'd be happy.
So, first step - publisher, or agent? A literary agent can be a wonderful thing, but most agents won't accept you as a client until you've already established yourself. Conversely, most publishing houses won't accept you without an agent. After puzzling out the paradox for awhile, I decided to go the direct route, and send the manuscript in whole to a local publisher who gave Miriam her start as well, Turnstone Press.
I've always been a fan of Turnstone, and felt a weird connection with the publisher through another of its releases, John Gould's book of short stories kilter: 55 fictions. Through my work as a book reviewer with the Winnipeg Free Press, I was able to read and review (very favourably) an advance copy of the work. While I have had no contact with Mr. Gould, I felt a connection had been made through the fact that I was the only book reviewer in the entire country to have reviewed the book. Months later, when kilter became nominated for that year's Giller Prize, I was interviewed by BRAVO!, and appeared on the televised award ceremony talking about the work. Let me tell you, having Graham Greene say my name is a thrill unto itself. Gould didn't win, but I won't take that personally.
Alas, the Turnstone was not to be. A few months after I submitted, I received the following letter:
Dear Corey Redekop:
Thank you for the submission of your manuscript , Shelf Monkey. Although it was reviewed with interest, it does not coincide with the publishing plans of Turnstone Press in the near future.
My first rejection letter! I still have it, and will have it framed as soon as I end up in a house for more than four months at a time.
So, my hopes lie dashed on the floor. Whatever will poor Corey do? Give in to defeat, or rise to challenge the fates themselves? Or at least find enough spare change to mail the manuscript to another publisher?
Stay tuned, gentle readers.