Recently, Abaddon Publishers had an open submissions window. The last one that I entered was about two years ago, and I put forward a sci-fi, futuristic steampunk Hornblower story.
The idea and the world were sound, the character was suitably flawed, and the ship’s chaplain was a right bastard. In a good way.
Unfortunately they didn’t pick it to go through. Feedback was excellent however, and basically told me that my writing was good, but they just weren’t looking for that sort of story.
Fast forward two years and they have another window. In that time I’ve written a number of short stories, some of which were actually published. Each one had a fully-fleshed out world behind them. I’m not the sort of author that can just write a story and be vague in the actual background. I have to have a background that, if people ever ask me, I can explain. It also means that I can then write more stories without worrying about ballsing up continuity.
This meant that I had a wealth of things to draw upon. Bluttrinker, my story about about a German Vampire fighting Soviet Liches and Zombies on the Russian Front, had been very well received, so I submitted that.
Gangsters versus Aliens, was something that I’d been planning for a while and was built upon Well & Truly Sporked and Oi, Oi! Saveloy! Both of which featured Neville, an utter bastard who had really bad luck when it came to fast food and death.
Disunited States, was something that had grown from a conversation between myself and Abaddon. It was based around a serving US civil war, and was based around the march of the Ten Thousand, with troops loyal to the North having to fight their way back home.
All three were rejected, but two of them made it to the final shortlist, and one made it to the final pitch meeting. As a result, I was ecstatic about being rejected. This was the closest I had ever come to having a proper, paid for book deal. This was a sign that my writing, and my pitching skills, were coming on in leaps and bounds. My name was being discussed in the lofy heights of Abaddon and their parent company Rebellion.
Furthermore, although they were rejections, they were also opportunities. Bluttrinker was rejected because they are tired of the Nazi undead genre. However, if I can work this into another conflict setting, I might well be in with a chance of getting that published. Work has, naturally, already begun.
Disunited States failed because they already had a military book coming out. This was completely my fault, as I took far too long to develop it. This happens, and I already have another publisher in mind.
Gangsters versus Aliens was also very much liked and actually made it to the final pitch. Worries were that it wouldn’t work so well in the States. I can understand that as Nev is a mashup of the worst people I worked with and against whilst on the doors. Think of the pig-owning gangster in Snatch, Vinny Jones in Lock Stock, and times them by two. That’s how god-awful he is.
Again though, if I can work it so that it’s a bit more tongue-in-cheek, I might have a chance. This will be hard as I don’t really do humour, but it’s a good challenge that I’m going to try to rise to.
In summary, three doors closed, two opened, and I got some cracking feedback from the editor, for which I am truly grateful. I can’t wait to pitch some more!