Actually what bothers me most about the submission process and it’s accompanying string of rejections is not the fear that my work isn’t good enough (that’s a whole other anxiety train) but that my failure might be due to presenting the novel the wrong way. What if I’m just really terrible at writing query letters? (Entirely possible). What if I’m trying to sell the wrong elements of the book to the wrong people? (I leaned on the emotional content here, the straight-up plot there, the thematic drive for this agent, the hook for that agent… what if I put them all the wrong way around?) What if the synopsis gives the wrong impression of the book? What if the synopsis and the first chapter seem to be low in points of correlation and the agent/publisher thinks I’m selling them the wrong book? What if it’s really an adult book, not YA? What if they read the synopsis and think I’m being coy about the ending? (Legitimate interpretation, unfortunately, because it’s the first book and it looks like the start of something, not the end.)
Even the most fundamentally mundane considerations are suddenly concerning. Like — I write with Australian spelling and formatting. The formatting is easy to change, there’s not a lot of differences (that I’m aware of, anyway), but the spelling… it’s simple to switch ‘z’ for ’s’ and ‘o’ for ‘ou’ but… do you have any idea how many words there are where one version of English is a double ‘l’ and the other isn’t? Where it’s hyphenated in AUS English but a single word in US? Where… they’re endless. And there is, as far as I know, no piece of software that exists that can highlight this stuff.
I could make a list (a very long list) of the language differences and go through and changes them but (and it’s a big but) I’m bound to miss some. And I can’t rely on my own proofreading skills for that because my eyes read ‘colour’ and think it’s correct. There isn’t a switch in my brain that I can get to move over to US English just temporarily so that I’ll notice those things. Which basically means if I try to switch it I’m practically guaranteed to screw it up, so it’ll be wrong and inconsistent.
So I’m leaving it in AUS English, and thus running the risk of fundamentally irritating any US agent/publisher. And am thus left with the vague and unsettling feeling that I’ve made the wrong choice.
Actually, that’s a pretty good description of the whole submission process: Am left with the vague and unsettling feeling that I’m doing something wrong.