July 7, 2007. Triple seven. I thought this was a lucky day. I wrote a short note, shoved it into an envelope along with an SASE and the first two chapters of my manuscript to send to a local publisher: XYZ Publication, Kota Kinabalu. It took me twenty minutes to walk to the post office and another one hour before I was at the head-end of the long queue. RM3 it cost me to post my two chapters but I thought it was worth it.
I was sure I'd hear from the publisher within one or two weeks at the most. After all, how many writers are sending their manuscripts to publishers in KK? Besides, I've read a number of books published by XYZ Publication and I know they publish the kind of material I was sending them.
So I sat back and waited.
One week passed. Then two weeks. One month went by. Three months slipped away. No reply. No phone call. Not even a printed rejection notification. Damn.
I didn't give up hope, however. I found the address of another local publisher. This was in a book I had borrowed from the library. The book was about a white priest who had served all his life in Sabah. Hmm, I thought, the publisher should be interested in my story.
This time I was 'wiser'. I didn't want to waste the RM3 on postage -- and the paper and the ink! -- so I sent a query letter in July 2008 (one year after the query to XYZ Publication!) describing my book and who would find the book appealing and all that stuff. Again I sat back and waited. Again I was disappointed.
What's wrong with my story? What's wrong with me? I was mortified that my manuscript was not good enough and I was not good enough and the handful of friends and relatives who had had a peek at the story was perhaps only being polite and tactful. I didn't ask what's wrong with the publishers!
Did I feel rejected? Of course. I consoled myself by imagining that the first publisher didn't have anyone to read manuscripts and the second one had closed down. I'm sure I wouldn't have felt too bad if I had received some kind of feedback from both publishers.
What would you have done? Crawl into a corner and weep? Don't! I found another publisher. I'll tell you all about it in my next post.