Today I got a letter in the mail.
It came in an envelope with my handwriting on the front. An SASE. No return address.
I stared at it for a minute, trying to figure out whom I had sent a letter to that required an SASE. I figured it was a query, but goodness! The last queries I sent out to agents were in February!
I'd actually thought I'd gotten them all back. After all, there weren't very many I'd sent snail mail. And even though I have a publishing contract now, I still got that little flip in my stomach when I realized what it was. Without opening it I knew. It had to be a rejection. Does anyone - even an agent that requires you to snail mail a query - reply positively via SASE?
But even as I held it, it seemed a bit thick for a single sheet of form rejection. It was like college applications all over: if the envelope comes back thin, it's a rejection; if it doesn't, it's an acceptance with a wad of financial papers.
And when I opened it, I still expected a form rejection. Even though it was three pages. I expected, with every line I read, for it to be a form rejection. We loved it but...
I have gotten so many of those I can recite it by heart.
But this one...
It was most definitely personal. There was nothing at all form about it. They apologized for taking so long. They explained they've had an exceptionally busy season. They said I did an amazing job with my sample writing.
I looked at the agency name. Oh. My. Gosh. It was one of the big guys. A major player I'd thought I'd never have a shot with. Someone I'd obviously written off as soon as the envelope was in the mail, and never wondered why I didn't hear back.
I went back to the letter. They want the whole manuscript.
Yada yada... it ends with this: We get so many proposals each month it is overwhelming, but once in a while we find one that is refreshing and engaging. And yours is one of them.
Me. My book. I'm one of them. I'm one of the ones they want.
I have to be honest. It isn't until I write this right now - a full six hours after the mail came - that I finally realize this could be something big.
But you know what? I didn't - and don't - feel like I made a mistake signing with a small press. I've been down that road before. I've had agents say glowing things, then reject me with so much as a I love this but I have no idea who to sell this to.
And you know what? I do. I know who will buy this. And I think I can sell it. I believe in my book, and the story, and I believe there is an audience for it. And I don't wish I hadn't signed a contract so I could go through one more round of printing and mailing and pinning my hopes on someone else. Because in a month, or two, or six, the SASE in the mailbox might say something not so nice to hear. Because I don't want to wait around waiting for something that may never come and overlook the opportunity staring me in the face.
I could spend all my time waiting around for something better to come along, when the perfect thing is right in front of me.
Still, at the end of the day... it is nice to be wanted. And to be the one that gets to say, Thanks for thinking of me, but I've gone with someone else.