While waiting for a response to my query from 123 Publisher, I chanced upon a copy of MPH Quill. The editor, Eric Forbes, talked about submissions and he said “if your book has a local flavour to it that you think Malaysians would enjoy, we’re always open to manuscript submissions here too”.
I vacillated between sending my manuscript to MPH and putting it away indefinitely. Compared to the two Kota Kinabalu publishers, MPH is a huge publishing house in KL. Why would the publisher risk taking on a new writer when the KK publishers didn’t even acknowledge receiving my queries? Publishing, after all, is a business and the publisher is in it to make money.
I tried to improve my manuscript. I added new materials and showed the revised version to my ‘regular’ readers. Most of them had nothing negative to say about my story. In fact, many were very supportive and one young friend, who just turned fourteen, prodded me for more chapters when the chapters were not forthcoming. Wow! I was amazed. Even a kid liked my story.
What could have helped me a lot was probably a critique group to point out the good, the bad and the ugly. But I was not fortunate to have that. What I had, besides the ‘fans’, was someone who asked me bluntly: “Who would want to read your book?”
He might as well have said: You think you’re so good that people want to read your story? How dare you! How presumptuous!
I guess we’ve all come across people who feel it’s their sacred duty to tell you not to wear a hat too big for your head. Amidst these conflicting signals I sent a query to MPH Group. I made sure I enclosed an SASE with the first three chapters of my manuscript. It was another walk to the post office to join the queue which started at the front door and snaked to two clerks at the counter. As I dropped the envelope into the post box, I wondered if I should have re-written the third chapter. But it was too late now. I’d have to play the waiting game again just like I had done after sending my queries to the first two publishers.
I received my SASE exactly a month after I posted the three chapters. I held my breath, opened the envelope and read “The first three chapters look interesting, and we would be happy to view the whole manuscript…”
I have passed the first hurdle. But I didn’t allow myself to feel on-top-of-the-world happy. There was always that cold voice asking me: Who would want to read your book?