How I Feel After One Year Of Being On Sub

Thursday, May 30, 2024

When I went on sub, I was full of hope. I convinced myself that I was one yes away from my dream - traditional publication - and it was sure to happen. I visualised my book in stores, my book launch and the most extravagant book tour. 

But manuscripts don’t always sell.  

I started this blog series after I signed with my agent in January last year. It was a whirlwind that began with excitement and the popping of champagne and ended with a case of shingles and a dose of imposter syndrome. There’s nothing like a win that makes me have doubts. 

But the best way to conquer rejection fears is by continuing to work. So that’s exactly what I did, kicking off this new chapter in my writing journey with a few extra edits and a final look at my query package. Then I went on sub and waited and waited and waited. 

Over a year has now passed and it’s time to accept that my manuscript has not been picked up. 

Confessing this truth is not easy but I think it’s important. Manuscripts often don’t sell. I just wish more writers talked about their rejected manuscripts. 

It’s not all bad though. Check out this positive feedback I received from three of my dream publishers:

  • "Loved the sound of this and there’s definitely an appetite for it in the market right now."
  • "Kelly has a nice turn of phrase and there’s also a good pace to her storytelling."
  • "It’s an interesting story. I’m sure you’ll find a good home for it." 

These positive rejections mean the world; they help me keep going and are a reminder that stories are an art form and art is subjective.

Some of the most successful authors have faced rejection: 

  • Agatha Christie’s first novel was never published. Her second novel was also repeatedly rejected before being finally published on the agreement that she change the ending. 
  • Sally Hepworth “I did finish that terrible first book. I then read a book on editing and edited it. Using my single-mindedness, I even managed to navigate the stream of rejections that followed, and the two more books I had to write before I finally managed to land a publishing deal that allowed me to become a full-time writer.” 
  • Holly Craig has now published two best-selling novels with more on the way. Her first manuscript didn’t sell and still isn’t published and I’m grateful she blogged about it. 

Good news is great, but for every author who is celebrating a win, there are hundreds more who are facing rejection.
Here are some stats from

  • Between 500,000 and 1 million books are published each year, excluding self-published books.
  • The odds of getting published stands between 1% and 2% 

Brevity Blog “In the most recent 12 months of deals at Publishers Marketplace, out of all fiction deals: 1,828 only 404 were debut authors.” 

Most novelists write several books before selling one. 

This year has been difficult, but I’m still keen to keep pursuing my writing dreams. Even though it’s hard to feel confident when I’m facing rejection, even though it’s easy to forget or downplay the fact that I have an agent while I’m yet to sign a publishing contract, and even though, sometimes, I feel like a fraud calling myself an author, I remember how much I believe in my ability because I’ve done the work, I’ve put in the time, and I am worthy. 

Picking myself up now is crucial. I’m at a fork in the road and am choosing to continue my adventure. I’m not sure what my next blog will be about but the possibilities range from querying small presses to going on submission with something new. 

Wish me luck!
Kelly Sgroi is based in Melbourne, Australia. Represented by Beyond Words Literary Agency, Kelly is looking forward to what comes next in her writing journey. She’s an enthusiastic member of the writing community and is published by WOW! Women on Writing, Dream Journal, The Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endometriosis Australia, and a few Medium publications. Visit her website at


Angela Mackintosh said...

Thank you for this honest post, Kelly! I don't think enough authors talk about this, but it happens frequently. Those debut numbers you shared from Brevity are pretty shocking! Only 404 a year, and I also read that post that showed the abysmal numbers for memoir. I personally know a lot of authors whose debuts didn't sell. I'm so proud of you for picking yourself back up and staying flexible and determined. That attitude will serve you well in this industry. The feedback from publishers is encouraging. Keep at it, Kelly! You know I'm cheering you on. :)

Kelly Sgroi said...

Thanks for all your support and encouragement Ang. Sharing my truth is important to me and helps me to move foward. The numbers are pretty scary but nothing will stop me from writing. Cheers!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for writing this vulnerable, revealing post. It is so easy to forget that there are different achievements in publishing. Getting an agent is one. (Way to go, Kelly!) Getting that book deal is another.

But having your agent go out on submission is another huge accomplishment. Keep us posted on your adventures!

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