Friday, March 11, 2016

Writing: Handling Rejection

There are undoubtedly writers whose first work was accepted for publication, and for whom things proceeded smoothly thereafter. But they are rare indeed. There are numerous stories of rejections. This site, for example, has so many I finally gave up reading them. I used to think that my four years spent penning four novels that garnered forty rejections was something of a record. Then I learned from some of my colleagues that I wasn't even in the running for the prize. It happens to all of us.

How do you handle rejection? The course you choose is up to you. Maybe you are enamored of being a writer, but no one seems to want to publish your work. Nowadays, self-publication is a viable option (although I would warn against the so-called "vanity publishers" who will charge a significant fee to publish a stack of books that will languish in your garage for years). Utilize the services of a good, professional editor, and take their advice. The same goes for cover design. Employ a professional. Then, don't forget that marketing your work is necessary. There's a lot that goes into self-publication, and it's not as simple as you might think.

You may choose to deepen your understanding and execution of the craft. If you're set on writing, I encourage this. And, if you do, I certainly suggest you to start on another book (and yet another after that). One of the editors I know says it takes three to four books before a writer begins to "get it." Don't make the mistake so many authors do of whittling away at the same book, adding passages and removing them, rather than starting a new one. You'll be glad you did. And when you go back to review those early ones, you'll see why they weren't published.

I won't go into everything the rejected writer does, but I will say that even a multi-published author faces rejection. Contracts aren't a "once for all" thing. As in pro sports, performance--especially recent performance--is key. Look at the name of the publisher on the spine of your favorite author's books. Chances are you'll see that they've written for several publishers. It depends on who'll give them a contract. After all, it's a business.

Have you considered that your favorite author may have faced rejection many times? Do you encounter it in your own life? If so, how do you handle it?

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Patricia Bradley said...

I met someone once who had all 10,000 of their rejections in a box...and a bag or two. But she didn't quit and one day she received a contract for 4 separate books. :-) And now she's a NYT Best Seller.

Rejection is part of being a writer and it's something you have to live with--I'll have a post on rejection on the ACFW blog March 31.

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, I like to say I've been turned down more times than a Holiday Inn bedspread. Rejection is a way of life for us all. I remember the writers' conference I attended where the speaker asked people who'd been rejected ten times to raise their hands. Then twenty. Then thirty. I dropped out at forty, and the eventual winner was T. Davis Bunn...a best-selling author. We can quit or we can persevere. The choice is up to us.

Patricia Bradley said...