After three months, I finally heard back from the publishing company. They've decided not to publish my manuscript. It's not what they're looking for at this time, apparently.
I'm not gonna lie---I'm totally disappointed about it. And a little stunned, too. Especially considering the list of requirements they gave me that most other publishing houses follow.
Here are the general requirements, if I decide to pursue another company:
1. A brief author biography, including an explanation of your spiritual
walk and background, and any previous published writings.
2. A one-page summary or synopsis.
3. A detailed table of contents including paragraph summaries for each chapter (non-fiction).
4. The introduction and at least two sample chapters.
5. The manuscript word count (actual or projected).
6. A description of your intended audience, how you envision those
readers responding to your message, and how you would see us reaching
7. A one-page overview of competitive titles on the market (books that are similar to or might be compared to yours).
8. A listing of potential endorsers for the book.
What in the world does this mean? And here's where my ignorance in how things work in the publishing world shows. Am I paying for the privilege to have my work published by a big name publishing house? If so, I get to keep most of the profits, right? (Somehow I doubt that.) So if I'm doing my own advertising, lining up people who will pay for the cost of publishing, and finding a target niche, what in the world is the benefit of going this route? If I'm doing all of this, I might as well self-publish.
Does it mean that I need to have people recommending my work? As a brand new author, how is this possible? I have had the privilege of "meeting" some great authors online in various online forums, but I don't know them personally. I certainly wouldn't feel like I could ask them to lend their name--their already published name--to something that may or may not have success.
Manuscripts should be neatly typed and double-spaced on white,
letter-sized paper. Grammar, style, and punctuation should follow normal
English usage. We use The Chicago Manual of Style (University of
Chicago Press) for matters needing clarification.
Granted, I realize even the grammar nazi makes mistakes. But when I sent in my manuscript, I'd edited the thing to DEATH. Several other people had even helped in this process. And what in the world is the Chicago Manual of Style? Good grief, are there new grammar rules that I haven't learned about?!
Okay, I've got to end here before I just get angry. And I'm trying not to be. I'm thankful I at least had the opportunity to say someone in the publishing world has actually read my manuscript. But honestly? All of this makes self-publishing look pretty darn good.
I also know that regardless of how my novel is eventually published, I'm going to have to toughen up quite a bit--not everyone will like it. Am I going to bristle and sulk (or cry) over every bad review? Hope not.
I've got some more research and praying to do.
Edited: After further reflection, I came to the conclusion that most of my blue comments were just plain churlish. The woman who sent the email doesn't deserve that from me; she was friendliness itself. So, I decided to delete all but the above two comments, mainly because they are legitimate questions I have. I certainly wouldn't want to turn away any potential publishers just because of a moment of anger and frustration. (Yes, I'm still upset about it. Naturally. But that's no excuse to go off on a rant, even if it is my own personal blog.)