Rejection letters can knock you on your butt. And that’s okay, it happens, stuff hurts, rejection sucks. But you can’t stay on the floor, rubbing your a**.
1. Get your butt off the floor and go do something nice for yourself. Take a walk, draw, watch a comedy, play with your kids or pet. This includes eating or drinking-5 minute limit. Put on the timer.
After 30+ ‘thank you, but no thank you’ emails on one manuscript and going on 20 for another, I’ve numbed out when I begin reading text that begins with “Dear Author.” (As I type, I swear another ‘Dear Author’ email blurb popped up on my screen).
2. Don’t stuff your feelings. I usually say, “Ah, crap,” or “Pftttt.” Sometimes I whine, “I’m never going to get published….” You can ‘wau-wau’ ‘boo-boo,’ but only for five minutes-again, put on the timer.
3. Think of the ‘no thank you,’ like James Lee Burke (his novels have been made into films):
“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”
—James Lee Burke
I’ve also had many more emails that begin with my actual name and say some nice things before the ‘NO’ comes. The agent tries to soften the blow. Bless his/her little heart.
4. With each rejection, I file the email in my little folder and then I either re-read the MS, or ask my writing sisters for more critique. Keep trying.
Twice, out of 50+ times, I’ve had what felt like B-12 shots to the heart.
“I’d love to read more, please send the entire manuscript…”
Six weeks later I get another type of shot, one in the butt.
“After careful consideration….Uh, no.” Well that’s not entirely true. One rejection felt like that while the other was thoughtful.
5. If someone gives you specific criticism, regard it as a gift. Let them know you appreciate their comments.
This agent took the time to explain why she didn’t accept the MS. She supplied some examples, some suggestions, all in a couple of paragraphs. I felt respected, overjoyed, and then grateful.
I shared the agents comments with my writing sisters. They were happy for me. Why? Because I know, we know, that I am much farther along the road to getting an acceptance than I once thought. I’m going to work on those weak areas for the next month or until I get it right.
“An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.”
Rejection letters are part of the process of writing. That’s just the way it is, for writers, for everybody. It takes a strong woman/man, a bien chingona to keep writing pass the hill of rejection letters.
6. Turn your rejection around and see what you can gain. Go get the timer again. Shut off your computer. Now, write out your feelings, huff and puff, or boo-hoo on paper. Rip it to shreds if you want. Slam dunk it into the wastebasket. Or put it away for when you need that kind of emotion in one of your stories or poems.
7. Keep growing. Attend a critique group. Enroll in online or offline classes. Keep reading. Attend at least one conference a year. Spend more time on your writing work than on social media. (You can devote more time to that area after you’re published).
I know you can do it. Keep on writing.
Laptop, coffee, pajamas, more coffee….that is some of what it takes for me to sit my butt in the chair and write. So say you are now finished with your manuscript (MS), one, three or ten years later. How do you prepare that MS for publication? Pat Fry of S.P.A.W.N (info below) has written since 1973 and has hundreds of magazine articles and 33 books to her name. I think she’s qualified to tell us how we can do that. Her introductory line, “Publishing is not an extension of your writing. It’s a business and fiercely competitive,” got my attention. So you finished your manuscript, now what?
These are your choices: The big 6 publishing houses, small presses or choosing the booming industry of self publishing or as she called it, the ‘pay for publishing.’ (I’ll call it P4P). But first, be aware of the daunting 2009 USA stat which cites 76% of all published books fail. Failure is defined as selling 100 copies or less. Over 1 million books are published per year, yes per year. The Big 6 and their subsidiaries published 288 thousand, with 756 thousand self published. There are more than 90 thousand P4P’s. You want to be in that 24% who publish, right, so how do you decide?
First, what is your genre and how does it fit into the big 6 or small presses? Pick up a book in the genre you’ve written, look inside for the publisher and determine if your MS falls into their scheme of things. Second, find an agent. Many writer’s found an agent by participating in writer’s conferences, use http://www.allconferences.com or http://writersconf.org to find conferences. They often have a pay for review of pages workshop where you can meet face to face with an agent. Get a referral from an associate. Another source is from blogs. Follow agent or publishers blogs (I follow three) to see what they’re about and whether you want to send them a query. They all have instructions on how to send the query and what genre they accept.
Let’s say you’ve decided to go with a P4P. Don’t just Google ‘self publishing’ (remember there are thousands of them). A book by Mark Levine, “The Fine Print of Self Publishing,” is now in its 3rd Edition. He lists the outstanding ones (Aventine Press, Booklocker, and 8 more), then the good, the bad, and the ugly (Authorhouse, Publish America, Trapper, and more). I’m sure Amazon has more of the same type of books.
Finally, educate yourself about the business of publishing: read, read, read. A place to check, or a ‘warning site’ for unscrupulous publishers are: http://www.writersweekly.com/whispers_and_warnings.php, http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware or for specific companies or individuals use Google, keyword ‘warning’ plus name of person or company.
Bottom line, Pat says, you have to approach the publication of your finished MS like a business person with a business plan. Daunting yes, but very important if you want to be in the 24%. The workshop was valuable and I’d probably go to another one just for the educational refresher. But for now, excuse me, I have to go brew another pot of coffee.
Pat is the President of Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN): http://www.spawn.org and she owns Matilija Press in Ojai, CA.
Tomorrow I’ll go over the ‘Ten Best Ways to Promote Your Book’ also by Pat Fry. Until then,