The human mind is a peculiar thing. It's a smoke and mirrors con artist. I think if it ever really let us see what was happening out there we'd all quietly move back to the trees which we never should have left in the first place. And nowhere is this more true than world of writing and getting published. Still, sometimes it pays to look beyond the world as we think it should be, to the world as it really is, so we can get to the world that we really like to see.
For instance your manuscript, which you've labored long and hard on, followed guidelines precisely and sent off with high hopes and a SASE... It's precious to you isn't it? You've kept the pages clean, and neat. In the delusion, it arrives on the editor's desk, she opens it, is blown away by the prose and story, reads it voraciously and calls you up that aftenoon to offer you a nice contract and you're on your way to fame and fortune. In the illusion it goes to the publisher's mail-room and gets delivered to the sub-editor's desk, she reads it, likes it, sends it on to the editor who in a day or two has a look, doesn't like it and pops it in the SASE with a letter saying why not. In the reality... what is precious, rare and unique to you, is merely one of thousands to them. There are no hard feelings or deliberate disrespect of your art. Just reality is that your sub is a minor part in a very big business-process. At least 10 'precious jewels'arrive every day. It arrives in the mail-room, gets assigned to someone... very busy. Doing all the myriad jobs expected of the junior sub-editor. She eventually does fish it out (or waits untl she has fifty and they are going to overwhelm her desk) and yes, she likes it. And sends it on to someone else. It takes them a few days/weeks to say 'not for me', and send it back. The good sub-editor (and you get some, despite the pressures etc. ) then sends it to another editor. Two months later, overwhelmed with an inbox threatening to explode, they read it on the subway. They like it too. And send it on again to the biggest honcho. And some weeks or months later the important person either decides to buy it or puts it aside for later. Or takes it to a monthly (or quarterly) editorial board. And they decide no thanks. Now- handled by half a dozen people and read on subways and moved in briefcases, lets be frank your manuscript looks like a bit of a dogs breakfast ... Is your SASE still attached to this? Maybe, but let's be realistic here. So: to gain what you can from the process. If it comes back fast in its SASE... It doesn't mean it's a bad book. It just didn't get anywhere. If it doesn't come back, cheer. That means it has moved up the process. It also means, probably that after a reasonable elapse of time (say 6 months, if you are me), you need to query. Now in the delusion, they've been waiting for your letter, and know precisely where you manuscript is. In the illusion they're able to establish within a few minutes what is up... it may even happen this way sometimes. In the reality I've experienced... your manuscript is one of 3000 that has arrived at this publisher. It's been passed around (that's very good) and they liked it... where is it right now? Um. maybe in that pile/that folder. And maybe its very easy to find, but in case it isn't this is the time to turn your reality into that dream. This is not the time to prima donna and wonder how they could treat your jewel like that. I don't think there is ever such a time. Make it as easy as possible, offer another copy, so they don't find it easier to say 'Oh sorry, didn't work' rather than hunt for it. If you need to politely send another copy... that's fine. Appreciate that your illusion was a lot easier than their reality. Be happy you didn't get back in the nice SASE.
And this is something I wish I'd known (no it wasn't with Baen.)
So what other illusions have been cruelly shattered? Fame and Fortune? Your book will be promoted? writing is easy?
Tell me. And try not to diss anyone. It's probably your illusion/delusion that was well, delusional.