On Wednesday, 12/1/10, Nicole Whipple posted about submission and rejection and asked: What happens when it is you?
I found Nicole through Joanna St. James, one of my greatly appreciated followers when I visited her blog. She posted her own thoughts about submission and rejection yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010.
I was so moved by each post that I had to respond. I have been a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) for at least twelve years. I can’t remember since I never write this stuff down. I am the moderator of a critique group and have attended critique for as many years as I’ve been a member of RMFW.
Critique has its own form of rejection. As a writer you learn over time what is valuable in someone’s comments and what is their opinion. But in the beginning, you can be hurt, insulted and humiliated to the point that you may consider dropping out of critique and never writing again.
I think the same is true of rejection by agents and publishers. Most of them are considerate in how they reject you. But there are some who should get out of the business.
I have been working on my current WIP (work in progress), for many years. I originally wrote this before I had children. Then the kids came and my life became a blur of responsibilities including working at a job I didn’t like. When my children were teenagers, I joined RMFW and took out the old story. I had to rewrite all of it. I only kept the main character’s names and location. Most of the rest was reborn by trial and error until I had the story I wanted. I submitted this to critique and learned about “show don’t tell,” 1st person, 3rd person, page breaks, when to shift point of view, (POV), descriptions, back story, you name it. I had to go to FREE College. The only cost to me was my RMFW dues and time. My motto was. “Never Give Up, Never Surrender!”
I waited to pitch my book until I had a completed manuscript. Then I started to try and sell it to the editor or agent I was meeting with at conference. I also sent out synopsis and query letters. I had so many people request partials, synopsis, etc. I received many rejection letters, most said, “We love it but it’s not right for us?” One editor wrote, after he had my ms. for 6 months, that they were no longer doing fantasy. Each rejection hurt. I was left asking the question. What is right? What do they want?
The last time I pitched to an editor, I had four or five minutes to sell my book idea to the woman across from me. The first question she asked was how long I’d been a member of RMFW. I told her and she said, “and you’re still not published?” My answer of course was “no.” She proceeded to ask, “Why aren’t you published yet?” three more times. I was hurt and offended, so much so that I stopped writing for a year. Yes, I did. I was crushed.
Last May, 2010, I started meeting with a published writer friend, Lynda Hilburn. She had her own horror stories and was in the middle of searching for a new publisher. One of the things she did was to put her vampire series on Amazon’s kindle. Lynda had information on the publishing industry and she encouraged me. I started thinking in terms of self publishing. Then I started to research e-publishing and what people were saying.
The reality of our current situation is this. Yes, there are some writers who are being picked up for the first time by publishers. But there are many more with excellent stories, who have done their work, learned the craft, honed their writing, who are not getting contracts. Just like the rest of the economy today, there are less and less dollars being spent on new talent. Publishers want the sure thing.
How do we weather this? Yes, I know the word weather equals storms, right?
We need heroes. Real people who persevered and made a difference. I have two. Abraham Lincoln, not because he was the president, or because he freed the slaves, both worthy indeed, but because he did so while overcoming personal loss, depression, and past failures. He weathered the storm and achieved great success for many people and a nation.
My second hero is L. Frank Baum; the author of The Wizard of Oz. Frank came from a wealthy family but experienced financial ruin multiple times and lived with a heart condition his entire life. Yet, he followed his dream. As a traveling salesman, he wrote everywhere he went and achieved success in publishing multiple stories.
You can learn more about Abraham Lincoln at The History Channel and L. Frank Baum at The Literary Traveler.
(I did try to get these pictures in the right spot, but they were stubborn.)
Do I want an agent? Yes. Do I want a traditional publisher? Yes. Am I willing to wait for someone to want me? No.
I do not advocate putting junk up on Amazon or anywhere else. Do the work. Hire an editor. Hire an artist for the cover unless you are one. Put out quality.
I know I have a good story because over fifty readers, writers, agents, and editors have read the story and given me their feedback. The moral of this post is. Don’t lose hope, if all else fails, self publish. It is FREE.
I hope you are encouraged. Now back to work.