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The passive-aggressive breakup: It’s not you, it’s me.

When an acquisitions editor for a publishing house emails you saying he or she is interested in your book, it’s hard not to get your hopes up. When FOUR (yes, capital FOUR) editors email you saying they’re interested, it gets even harder.

Then comes the day one of them says they’re offering you a book deal, but the deal never mysteriously arrives in your inbox, they don’t return your calls, and you start obsessively checking your spam folders.

That’s not how it’s supposed to happen, but that’s how it’s happened for me. Late last summer, I started talking with a publisher who expressed interest in my book. They gave me a list of edits they wanted me to make; I made them. I emailed them, they responded. We talked format, marketing, tattoos (it’s what the books about), and they were incredibly responsive. Then they told me they’d have the contract to me on Tuesday. Tuesday came. Tuesday went. Another Tuesday came and went, and suddenly it felt like my emails were going straight to a fax machine that spit directly into a recycle bin (which we all know is what all fax machines really do, otherwise people would claim they actually receive the faxes I send).

Naturally, I didn’t want to be the pushy, needy author who demands to know where her contract is, lest they decide to pull the plug on the project, but still – I am a person, with needs! I politely sent some “followups”, but then something happened that made me back off a little…

Another editor emails me to say “they’d love to publish my book.” We start talking, over the phone (even though I abhor the phone due to the fact that I suck ass at it), over email (yay!). They begin putting up the hoops I need to jump through, I begin jumping like a good little author. They say they’re going to give me an advance and offer me a deal that’s quite a bit better than the one the aforementioned (but nameless)  publisher was offering, so I keep in constant contact with them with each hoop I jump through, until they say they’re ready to move forward.

Then… AGAIN! My emails start going into oblivion. My phone calls start going straight to voicemail. Weeks go by, I maintain polite follow-up protocol, and nothing. Now, I’m even politely crawling back to the first publisher who ignored me, hoping they’ll notice this cool new thing I did to my hair and take me back, or take me, to begin with.

I find myself wondering… is it me? I feel like Cher in Clueless (who, if you didn’t know, was based on Jane Austen’s Emma) after Christian shuts down her sexual advances. What did I do wrong? Did my hair go flat? Did I stumble into some bad lighting? What’s WRONG with me?
… and then I remind myself that if the book’s good enough to get the attention (despite losing it later) of four publishers, it’s probably good enough to get the attention of one that will follow through.

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