Taming My Judgmental Tendencies

As any writer who traditionally publishes can tell you, the hardest thing to do is to wait… and wait… and wait some more for news about whether any of the publishers or agents you’ve queried accepts your submission.

Recently I had a particularly frustrating experience with the founder and chief acquisition editor of a small press in my area—someone I’d met (and liked) at several writing events.

Last July, in response to my query about my middle grade novel, THE BIG SWITCH: VARNEY AND CEDRIC, he asked me to submit my full manuscript.

Yippee, I thought. Maybe he’ll like it and want to publish it! I felt especially hopeful because at a writer’s conference at which his company had a prominent display, he teased me and said, “Maybe next year, your book will be on display at our table.”

And then, radio silence. When I ran into this small press owner/editor on two occasions, he assured me he’d be getting to my submission “next week.”

More silence followed.

Twice during the fall, I emailed him to ask when he might decide whether to acquire my novel.


I admit it. I was not only aggravated but angry. In fact, this guy had made it on to my “people who drive me crazy” list. When my middle grade novel found a different publishing home, I fantasized what nasty comment I’d make when I withdrew my novel for publication consideration by the guy who ghosted me.

Fortunately, I controlled myself and simply emailed him to say that since I hadn’t heard from him, I’d signed with another publisher.

I anticipated hearing nothing back and was surprised when he responded. He said his health problems had resulted in his publishing business coming to a “screeching halt.” He was having surgery for one of his health issues later in the month.

And then he asked me to let him know when my novel came out, so he could “personally promote it.”

I thanked him and wished him well on his surgery.

I was struck by how quickly I’d passed judgment on someone who was facing much bigger problems than keeping authors informed about their submissions. And once again, I was reminded that it’s never a good idea to judge people without knowing what they might be going through.

So, I’m going to try harder to tame my judgmental tendencies and “seek to understand” before making insta-judgments.


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