When I was much younger and just beginning to realize that I wanted a future as a writer, I had starry-eyed notions of a major publisher recognizing my talent and jumping to offer me a contract (with a generous advance, of course). Yeah, not so much. Instead I have a pile of rejection letters, mostly of the form variety, some with encouraging words about how my writing is good (just not quite right for them). I had to learn the hard way that being a good writer isn’t enough to get published. In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to be able to write at all as long as you have a big enough name to guarantee sales. Depressing doesn’t even begin to cover it.
A recent article in the Washington Post shares how Madeleine L’Engle and other well-known writers have suffered rejection over their careers. So how to deal with it when it happens to you?
Like L’Engle, stick to your vision. Don’t compromise your work to suit the industry’s sometimes narrow definitions of salable. Your readers are out there, even if your book is genre defying and a little odd (something readers are a lot more open to than publishers).
Like J.K. Rowling, keep persisting. Just because 12 publishers reject your book doesn’t mean 13 won’t be your lucky number. [Edited to add: Also like J.K., if you’re a woman, you might want to submit under initials or a gender neutral name instead of an obviously feminine name–especially if you don’t write romance or “women’s fiction.” Sexism in publishing is real, and I wish I’d realized that years ago.]
Like Beatrix Potter, do it yourself. Self publishing has been around a long time and is only getting bigger. When traditional publishers have let you down (or you don’t even want to bother with them in the first place), don’t be afraid to go the indie route (which is what I did with my dark fantasy novel, Love Lies Bleeding–and what I will also be doing with the new novel I’m working on).
Whatever you do, don’t let rejections get to you. They are common, they are inevitable, and they don’t reflect the quality of your work or you as a person. Just remember: a good story will find a way.
How do you deal with professional rejection? Share in the comments.
[This was originally posted on 13 March 2018. Re-posted with minor edits.]
The hustle and bustle is over (for a few days, anyway) and now is the perfect time for relaxing with a book! Now’s your chance to get Love Lies Bleeding in the ebook format of your choice for 50% off until 1 January: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/836190
As we head into the holiday season, I thought I’d share some favourite posts from the past. This was originally posted on 12 February, 2o18…
Recently I paid a visit to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory (Ontario, Canada) and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the perfect respite from the freezing weather, it was a magical experience being surrounded by butterflies (many more than 16). I highly recommend it. I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took…
As we head into the holiday season, it seems like a good time to post something fun. I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings. Feel free to share on your own blog (leave me a comment to let me know if you do). Enjoy…
1.Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Unfortunately, yes. I can’t even look at a text on my phone without feeling queasy. It doesn’t help with reading, but I do recommend ginger for the nausea, if you’re also prone to car sickness.
2.Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you?
James Joyce. I can’t think of another author like him.
3.Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
This is a bizarre question, like asking someone to choose between ice cream or a painting of Elvis on black velvet. Are the two even related?
I’m going with Harry Potter, but since HP needs no defending, here are 3 reasons why everyone should forget about Twilight already:
1. It was written by someone who doesn’t like vampires and has no interest in them, other than the ones she writes about. Never read a book by someone who has no respect for the subject.
2. It presents stalking and abuse as “romance.”
3. It’s not so much a story, as propaganda for the author’s religious and moral beliefs. Do yourself a favour and read something else.
4.Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books…)?
If I bring a book along, I usually just hold it (unless it’s small enough to fit in my purse). If I do bring a larger bag to accommodate a book, I’ll also usually put my purse in there (easier than picking out just the stuff I need), maybe a bottle of water, my hairbrush, a camera–whatever I think I’ll need while I’m out.
5.Do you smell your books?
Not really; I think I’m immune to book smell.
6.Books with or without little illustrations?
Illustrations are always fun, but not necessary.
7.What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
A lot of books I read as a kid. I’ve recently re-read some of them and have been disappointed (Gordon Korman, I’m looking at you).
8.Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I’m not sure how funny this is, but growing up, I didn’t have a lot of access to books at home other than the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I’m that old), Greek history books, and a few of my older sister’s novels. So one of the books I would read (more than once) was the Donny Osmond Mystery (Donny Disappears!)
The really funny part might be that I still have it.
9.What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
A Dover Edition of Daisy Miller by Henry James (Dover Editions all tend to be slim).
10.What is the thickest book on your shelf?
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
11.Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I’m currently published. Find out more about my dark fantasy novel, Love Lies Bleeding, and my free ebook, Blood Magic,here.
12.When did you get into reading?
I’ve loved reading and books longer than I can remember. When I started kindergarten, my first question to the teacher was when were we going to the library. The kindergartners normally didn’t use the school library, but I was so excited to see the books that they ended up making special arrangements for my class.
13. What is your favorite classic book?
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.
14. In school what was your best subject?
English. I basically took every English class my high school offered, and then majored in English Lit in Uni.
15.If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I might try reading it again, but if I really hated it I’d probably just keep it on my shelf as a reminder of the person who gave it to me.
16.What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?
I think it’s great when people branch out and read new things instead of different variations on a favourite theme. That being said, I do recommend the (non-YA) Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It has magic, a dystopian future, shifters, witches, vampires, and a kick-ass female main character.
17.What is your favourite word?
Meander. I love both the rhythm of it and the meaning. Susurrate is also a good one.
18.Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
Who doesn’t love applying labels to themselves? Just call me a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.
19.Vampires or Fairies? Why?
Vampires, always. I like fairies, but fangs beat wings.
20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Shapeshifters interest me more. Angels can be okay if done right.
21.Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Werewolves. Spirits are fine as minor characters, but as a main they’d be unsatisfying to read about and impossible to relate to.
22.Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Forbidden love, I guess. Love triangles always make me question why they don’t just try a poly relationship.
23.AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action packed, tyvm. I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly, but I find Jane Austen-style romances tedious. Maybe it’s the lack of Osmond brothers 😉