It was something I said I’d never do—I’d never pay a reading fee, never pay a publisher money, inevitably, to reject a manuscript I’d submitted. In the no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes—which is what my path to publication has looked like—that’s a lot of thrown-away $10s and $20s.

I told myself that I’d make an exception for contests. In theory, I’d pay entry fees, assuming that contest prize money is raised by entry fees. But I really have no interest in entering contests, for the same reason I have no interest in playing the slots. If I’d entered every contest I could have entered, say, last February, I’d have been out more than $400, most probably without being a contest winner. I’m not a gambler. My lifetime income as a poet until then—approximately $250. Which is why I haven’t quit my day job.

But something about one publisher made me change my mind. Ann’s independent publishing house looked like a good fit for a manuscript I’ve called Love, Death, and Other Distractions, poems and photographs telling stories from my Ohio childhood to adolescence, maturity, and (not quite, I’d like to think) old age. I wanted an Ohio publisher because of the poems’ many Ohio references. Ann responded to my query personally, encouraging me first to send a sampler, then to send the complete manuscript. Never say never. I sent the manuscript and the reading fee of $10 at the end of April. Gladly.

I asked Ann if she’d like us to meet the next time I flew to Ohio, should she decide to publish the manuscript. She said she’d like us to meet whether she decided to publish the manuscript or not.

Then the waiting—another inevitable part of the publishing process—May, June, July, August. I wrote to tell her that I’d be in Ohio at the end of August. She wrote to tell me that she’d be able to meet me then.

And that she and her editorial board had rejected the manuscript.

(to be continued, next post)

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