Your First Book Probably Won't Get Published. Mine Didn't Either.
There is this moment of excitement you feel when you send a manuscript to a publisher. Daydreams of the acceptance letter pop into your head, and you can't wait to hear back from them. Another publisher gets the same manuscript and you just know that you'll have publishers fighting over your book! It was a masterpiece! Your first true work of art. Everyone is going to love it!
A week passes. Then two. Then three. As time goes on, discouragement sets in. Finally, you get a letter from one of the publishers. Your heart is about to come out of your throat when you open it, waiting for that moment where you can say "I got a publisher." Your heart sinks when it's a polite letter that was copied and pasted, declining your submission. Another kind rejection comes. And another.
It's no matter. There are more publishers! Someone is going to publish this! So you send more manuscripts and more manuscripts. You get more rejection letters and even more people who do not respond to you. This wonderful scenario you created for yourself is starting to crumble around you. So when do you stop? What do you do next?
Let's be honest. For most of us, our first books won't get published. If you listen to some rather prolific writers of our time, they will have some amusing stories of when their books were rejected by publishers. For many of them, it was the first book.
When you are ready to submit your manuscript, send it out! Create that lovely and enticing query letter, grab attention and go for it. If you have a stream of rejections and no responses, don't get discouraged. We all deal with this. (At least, those of us who didn't go 100% indie by choice. More on that later.) Once you've sent your book to all the publishers you can find who might take it, stop. Yes, I'm serious. Stop it. It's time to decide whether you will self-publish your book or leave it in the archives to re-write later.
If you want to self-publish the book, it's fine. I won't go into how to self-publish right now, but there are a thousand resources online for that. If you decide to leave it alone for awhile, that's fine too. I can tell you that I'd love to go back and re-write The Veiled Monarch. I have seen my writing and story-telling improve since writing that book.
What do you do after that? You keep writing. Continue on with the next story, book or series. You probably have a thousand ideas starting in your head already. Begin to outline one of them, plot it out and write the next book. Yes, that means you repeat the process all over again when you are ready to send out that manuscript. Yes, it means even that book may never get accepted by publishers. And that's OK. As you keep learning and keep writing, you will improve.
There was a piece of advice given to me long ago that I cling to. I hope you will as well. If you are going to work in The Arts, get used to rejection. You are going to hear a thousand times "no" before you hear that one beautiful "yes".