Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Brace Yourself. Rejection is Coming: How Writers Can Weather a Storm of Rejection

 In a perfect world, every writer would find an agent, publisher, and an audience as soon as they finish writing their novel. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and it's often an uphill battle to score any one of those things let alone all three. Don't ever let that discourage you or stop you from writing. Some of the greatest writers of all time could wallpaper a room with rejection notices. Rejection doesn't necessarily mean your work is bad.

In some cases, writers receive rejection letters because agents, editors, and publishers may not see their work as "marketable" at the time and do not see it fitting a particular trend that translates to profit for them. These folks are in the business of selling books and just because your book doesn't fit into a neat little category that's easier to market to, doesn't mean it's devoid of artistic merit or that there aren't people who are interested in reading your story. You just have to work a little harder to get your book out there. Keep pitching agents. Sit on your book for a while. Or go the self-publishing route. Regardless of whether you take the traditional path to publishing or decide to self-publish, be prepared to do some marketing of your book yourself. There are a ton of great resources out there to guide you through that process when the time comes.

Trends Come and Go. Don't Write For the Market.
Just because your story isn't on-trend at the moment doesn't mean you should gut it and transform it into something it's not to make it "marketable." While it can be frustrating to meet with rejection when you've put your heart and soul into writing a book, don't give up. Don't try to write like anyone else or write to fit what's popular. Trends come and go. Creativity is timeless. Half the time, the person who achieves success is the person who hangs in there the longest and perseveres. If you hang in long enough and keep writing and creating, not only will you get better at your craft, but you'll also increase the odds of someone discovering you and being "in the right place at the right time."

Value Constructive Criticism
Not all of us are born able to write like Ernest Hemmingway or Anne Rice right out of the womb. It takes time to hone your craft. If you don't let rejection get you down, you'll take something positive away from even the most soul-crushing experience. It can be easier said than done to say "don't take it personally" when you receive a rejection notice. Just remember that even in the most critical response, there is always a small grain of truth. Trust your gut to find that truth and use it to propel you forward in your writing career. If getting mad helps you write more and write better… Then get mad! If being Zen and learning from the experience before you move on helps you, then take that approach. Whatever you do… don't stop writing.

Some agents and editors offer some very good constructive criticism in their rejection letters. Take an honest look at your work and the critiques provided by these professionals. Chances are, if they have taken the time to send you some pointers and not the standard form letter, they've seen some promise in your work. Give your story a second look and see how you might be able to make it better based on that feedback. And above all, don't get discouraged and don't stop writing.

by Lana Cooper

1 comment:

  1. Hi Hayley and Lana....
    I completely agree and am actually writing a lot about this right now. The changing publishing industry is both a boon, as well as a bane for authors, especially ones just launching their career. While on the one hand it offers up interesting new models for getting our work seen (I am publishing my third book through Inkshares, for example,) it also means that the path to publishing is no longer a straight line.
    As authors, we now have much greater control over our destiny. And this is a good thing. It is also a bad thing when we don't have the time or know-how to navigate the new path. We also can't hand off the responsibility for quality work anymore.... or at least we could, but then we also have to give up our newfound higher royalty percentages.
    All of this can drive an author to stop writing, but I totally reiterate what you have said.... focusing on what we love about writing, the creative storytelling that brought us into it, the characters which force us to finish their stories, and ultimately the fans who ask when we will next publish, is what can keep us motivated, even when the actual road to publication makes us pull our hair out. Fortunately writing is, mostly, a solitary endeavor. So nobody needs to see my thinning scalp.
    Thanks again.
    Deanne Wilsted


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