Writing a novel is hard work. It's not ditch-digging hard, or first responder hard, or as hard as lots of other kinds of labor--I always have to laugh when I see some overpaid rock star or screenwriter claim to have "the hardest job in the world" (and I've seen both of those things). They're not, and neither is writing novels. Still, it ain't easy.
Then, once it's written, the really hard stuff comes in. Whether you have an agent or not, unless you're self-publishing (not my preferred option), the book has to be submitted to publishers. With a few, rare, exceptions, most publishers will say no. They want to publish books that will make them a lot of money, or at least bring some sort of prestige. At worst, they want to publish books that will more than pay back whatever they spend to acquire, edit, and market. But a lot of books don't do that. Books that publishers know will earn a lot of money are almost always by authors whose last book made a lot of money, and the one before that, and so on. Those authors usually don't have to worry about rejection.
But the rest of us--the vast majority--do. Writing a book is a lot of work, and there's no guarantee you'll be able to sell it. I think Empty Rooms is a very good book, but my agent had a hard time selling it. Not that editors didn't like it, but there are lots of reasons to pass on a book--way more than there are reasons to spend the company's money to acquire it.
In the case of Empty Rooms, one of the various rejections--from a major editor at a major house--was, at the same time, one of the best reviews I've ever had: "Clearly there’s quite a bit of talent here—it’s obvious that Mariotte is a seasoned professional even without knowing of his previous publications. Detroit, here, is encapsulated ably, ex-cop Richie makes for a compelling lead, and the eerie killer who has been operating in Detroit for decades is one of the more chilling antagonists I’ve encountered recently. Hats off to the author on extraordinarily compelling work."
I've never had a rejection that I so wanted to turn into a cover blurb--but then I got even better cover blurbs.
I'm thrilled that WordFire Press picked the book up, and with the job they've done on it so far. And I'm pleased with the critical reception, too. This week I got a great review from a major publication, which unfortunately I can't share yet. There are, at this writing, three reviews on Amazon, and all of them give the book five stars. Empty Rooms has just gone live on Barnes & Noble's website, so presumably reviews will start showing up there, too.
Negative reviews could still happen, and probably will. No book is loved by everybody, except maybe The Color Kittens. I'm bracing for those, trying to toughen my skin. Some writers say they never read reviews. I always think those people are liars, or they're far less insecure than me and most writers of my acquaintance.
The other hard part, after dealing with rejection, is waiting for the book to get into the hands of readers. I hope it does well (you can help by spreading the word via social media and word-of-mouth) and by posting reviews, especially if you like it). And I hope people enjoy it, and want to read more.