Monday, October 10, 2011

Full Manuscript Mess-Up - Can I recover?

I invite you to not tear me apart for what I'm about to tell you. I'm embarrassed to admit that I did it. I've been hiding it for a while now. But I've just gotta ask. Just gotta.

Is it possible to recover from sending an incorrectly formatted full manuscript to a publisher?

Let me explain.

Sweetwater Springs is my first completed novel. It's my baby. And I love it. About 2 years ago, I started the process of sending out query letters. Then I sent out more, and more, and more - and received plenty of rejection letters. I was ignored by many as well. That's OK. That's the way it works. I understand that. It's never fun - but I did it.

During my query research, I came across Avalon Publishing. I was very interested in them because they published clean books. I write Clean Historical Fiction/Romance so was anxious to submit to them and hear back.

I submitted my query letter and first 3 chapters to Avalon and waited for what felt like forever. I might have been a bit anxious. Maybe it was closer to a couple of weeks.

When I heard back from them, I was ecstatic that they had requested a full manuscript.

Without going into a lot of details, in an effort to finalize what I planned to send to Avalon, I was working on making some changes to my manuscript and inadvertently inserted some grammar problems, missing words, bad spelling and other minor things.

I am blessed to have a husband that reads my manuscripts thoroughly and finds all of those problems. But this time, in an epic failure of communication between my husband/editor and myself, we didn't catch these things before mailing off my story.

One year and 2 weeks after submitting my baby to Avalon, I received a rejection letter.

I was devastated.

At this same time, we were in the process of buying a house and moving. So the book sat dormant for a few months. Then we decided to self-publish. We took the same file that we had printed and sent to Avalon and published it to Kindle and Nook.

I was happy.

As probably most authors do who self-publish, I downloaded a copy of my book to my e-reader. As I began to read, though, I started to notice little issues. I started to notice the missing word here or there, the spelling problems, the grammar issues.

With haste, I talked with my husband about what had happened and why all these problems are in the book! We realized our mistake, pulled down the wrong version, re-edited the book, and republished it back up online with all those problems ironed out.

Whew - all is well there now.

But this gets us to thinking. And brings me to my question.

I wonder if my manuscript was rejected by Avalon due to the spelling and grammar issues rather than content and plot problems. If they had read the original 3 chapters (that we had meticulously edited), and liked the story enough to request a full manuscript, but then received what turned out to be a very poorly formatted and edited manuscript, I can't imagine what they must have been thinking. Surely they expected better from me.

So, finally, after all that, here is my question:

Is it possible to recover from this? Is it possible to recontact Avalon and ask for a 'second chance'?

I am happy that we chose to self-publish Sweetwater Springs, but I'd love a chance to have a traditionally published book as well.

I'm interested in your opinions. Please comment and tell me what you think. Should I recontact Avalon? Is it worth my while? Do I stand a chance to recover from this terrible flub-up?

Please comment and let me know.


  1. I would definitely contact them again, Alex. A letter explaining that you inadvertently sent the wrong MS, reminding them that they requested the first three chapter, and that you fear they rejected it because of the mistake. It's one of those, what have you got to lose things. At the very least you'll know you gave it your best effort.

    By the way, it's nice to meet another 'clean' writer. I always tell people I write G-rated stories. :)

  2. I definitely say contact them. What can it hurt? It would bring ease to your mind as well for doing everything possible in your power. Go for it!