Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Help! I'm a writer and I can't get published!

If you're a writer, I'm sure you've heard all the stories that start, "Oh (insert famous writer's name) sent out a trillion query letters before (insert bestselling book title) was sold. X number of agents rejected it and look at it now, it's huge.

You've had people you trust read it, they say its good. You've perfected your query letter. You think it's awesome. You think your book is polished and ready for agent eyes, your beginning is great and they should love love love it--only they don't. They say things like, "It's just not what I'm looking for." or "I just didn't connect with the character or voice."

Every time you get a rejection it's like getting kicked in the stomach. Every time it happens, your ego and self-confidence take a hit. After yet another rejection you can't help but wonder if the query you think it so great actually stinks, or if the pages you've sent are now lining some agents kitty litter box.

Do you ever say to yourself, "Self, I'm tired. I'm done. I'm walking away." 

If not, why? What makes you get up the next day and send out another query letter?








28 comments:

  1. Rejection rocks. yup I meant to say that. It helps us grow as writers. I keep every one of them. They remind me that there is room to improve,more to learn, no matter how much I already know. Not to mention if you have 3 rejection letters you can make more deductions on your taxes :D

    Keep trying you'll find the door that will open :)

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    1. Thanks Elise. :) That's a great attitude.

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  2. After having a short story rejected 4 times I took a good long hard look at ity and realised there IS something wrong with it. A work that is ready may be rejected many times, but sometimes many rejections means it's NOT as perfect as you think it is - and sometimes that's better, because then it puts control back in YOUR hands to MAKE it better.

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    1. Thanks Ciara! It is really hard to be objective about your own work and it doesn't look like having other people read it helps either. But thanks for the pep talk. :)

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  3. I'd say plain ole stubbornness is what keeps me going. I don't have a suitcase full of rejection letters like Christie Craig but I've had a few and every one hurt. I just brushed it off, took a hard look at the MS and looked for ways to improve it, or moved on to another publisher. Luckily there are a ton of them out there. ;-)

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    1. That's me. I'm stubborn and my ego just won't me accept that the book isn't good. Have to believe that it is good and that it just hasn't been seen by the right person.

      Thanks for the comment. :)

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  4. What keeps me sending out queries for Crazy is that I love the book. I know, eventually, an agent will too. With Ragtown, I have an amazing query letter, but, no-one is 'connecting'. A good hard look and I think I need to revise some things. Just keep going. :)

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    1. Hi Kelly! That's how I feel. I'm under no illusions, my book isn't likely to win any awards anytime soon. But I think, for its genre, its a good book. I hope someday some agent sees that in the few pages they actually look at.

      Thanks for your comment. :)

      MaryAnn

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  5. Because I can't conceive of life without writing. It's my drug, my fix, my sanity, my lifeline. If I gave up, that's when I would've lost. :)

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    1. Hi Zee. I envy you your passion.

      Thanks so much for your comment. :)

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  6. I've received a lot of rejections for my first ms. I started querying it way before it was ready (3 years ago), and have since rewritten the entire story, lots of polishing, lots of query writing. I think I've got the query down, and have had 6-7 partial requests, 1 full. Rejected by all (except one who's still sitting on it).

    It's more frustrating as time goes on, when you know you've done so much work to make it better after the first several sets of rejections. But I think the combination of the time I've spent learning about the craft and the industry, listening to other people, reading other books, and then working on my own, and the fact that I still believe in the story I have to tell, is what keeps me going. And plain old stubbornness. If other people can do it, so can I. That's what I keep telling myself. But it does get disheartening some days!

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    1. First, huge congratulations on the partials and full request. That's a big deal. I've had one partial request, they passed. Just started sending queries out in May/June, so that's not too bad.

      I wish you nothing but the best of luck and much success. Thanks so much for the comment.

      MaryAnn

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  7. Look, the last thing you want to do is worry about why somebody doesn't connect with or like your work. Write for yourself and nobody else, if some agent reads the first couple of lines and says 'meh i'm not blown away, where are the sexually repressed emo vampires that are so popular right now?' or whatever, don't worry about it ... just tell yourself 'if they were so damn good they'd be bestselling authors themselves not people resorting to selling better writers work' ... of course if some agent does accept it then you can instantly reverse the previous view and confirm that this particular agent is a supreme talent scout and really knows where its at.

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    1. Your comment made me smile. Thanks for that. There are no sexually frustrated vampires in my book, darn it. :) Maybe my next book.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      MaryAnn

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  8. I kinda know what you're going through. Been trying to get a product developed and on store shelves for over 25 years. I've given up a bunch of times down through the years. And my product still isn't in stores. I just sent out another sample - another "this is gonna be my last try", this time I'm really through. And like all those, oh so many, other times, I know I'm lying. Maybe we'll both make it next time.

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    1. I hope that you'll be one of those stories I mentioned in the blog post. That after all your efforts you'll strike gold. Is it fiction or non-fiction?

      At any rate, if we keep trying I have to believe that sooner or later we'll be successful. Thanks.

      MaryAnn

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  9. I'm assuming you've all thought of self publishing? Is that a bad thing? Or is it just the expense?
    I don't know how "getting published" works, but how do you market yourself?
    Again, I know nothing about publishing, but I know marketing and I'm thinking if you made yourself hot stuff, publishers would be more willing to talk to you. It's just a thought. Please don't hate me, I'm trying to help.
    What is your book about? Maybe I can help set you apart.

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    1. I don't hate you. :)

      I've created a blog and try to be active on Twitter. It's enough for now. Publishers are only interested in a huge following if your book is non-fiction.

      My book is romantic suspense. Thanks so much for your comment.

      :)

      MaryAnn

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  10. I don't walk away because I enjoy the process. I'm currently working on my second novel, with no success on my first. But I will go back to it. I think the more we write the more we improve too.Rejections are hard, but part of the game we play I'm afraid. keep going & you'll get there in the end. Found your blog via Triberr BTW - you said no-one was following, but it seems you have 161 followers - more than me!

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    1. :) My # of followers has been 158 forever. Thanks to Triberr I have 3 more. :)

      I like writing and will keep at it. I'm just starting second book, a departure from the first to some degree. First is romantic suspense, second is a mystery/crime novel. Thanks so much for your comment and you are so right, rejection is just part of the process. :) Thank you!

      MaryAnn

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  11. I had a really foul review on Amazon which made me want to cry until I realised that some of the points were valid. I rewrote. I sent it to another publisher, who suggest more rewrites - it is going to be published - learn from your mistakes and keep going. Or give it to someone who really ISN'T your friend and find out if maybe the work isn't up to scratch. I also know someone who is convinced that she is a writer, editors, agents and publishers are just dumb or hate her ... I've read her stuff - it's crap.
    Or write something else in a different genre - maybe you are wearing your shoes on the wrong feet in a literary sense - that also worked for me. I went into a genre that was outside my normal comfort zone and got published straight away ... just takes stickability.
    Won't say "Good Luck" because that ISN'T what it takes.

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    1. :) I laughed out loud when I read, "...its crap." I believe the book is in good shape. I've had a professional annotation, proofreading, and line edit done. From here on out all opinions are subjective and ya can't please everyone. I won't stop trying. It's too soon to wonder about the actual quality of the book, haven't had enough rejections and/or feedback. Congratulations on your publishing success and thanks so much for your advice.

      MaryAnn

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    2. Didn't mean yours, of course, haven't read it .. but just a wake-up call. If you believe in it ... keep going and stick with it xxx

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    3. Thanks Cameron, I will.

      MaryAnn

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  12. 1) Think of the query and rejection process as business, strictly business. Take your stomach out of the equation. (Easier said, I know.)

    2) Bear in mind that all you need is for ONE person to say yes.

    3) If you can answer "nothing" to the question, "what else would I be doing?", then stick with it no matter what.

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  13. Thanks Martha, great advice. I know you're right. :)

    MaryAnn

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  14. I keep all my rejection letters. I frame the contracts. The feeling of publishing your first book is amazing. The rejection is maddening but very necessary and a part of the biz. I had a story bounce back to me for years and one very smart editor told me to "find an ending." Uh, I thought it WAS done. Years later it hit me like a brick, the real ending that was needed. It was published, and made that editor cry. (A guy, BTW.)

    I just finished a book that started out as a rejected short story ten years ago. Another very smart editor told me way back when, that it's not a short story, it's a book. Years later I understood. I just finished the third draft and first readers have it. It's my 4th book. None were easy.

    Let your writing grow with you, and celebrate the growing pains.

    In the meantime, network, research publishers and what they accept, and read a lot. Some people say write every day but damn, I've never been able to do that. LOL!

    Good luck!

    Marcy Italiano

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    1. Wow, thanks for all the advice Marcy. Loved your last paragraph because I don't write everyday either and sometimes feel guilty. I'm always hearing or reading other authors talk about writing as their passiona and that they couln't live without it. I don't feel that way. I like to write, I enjoy writing but sometimes I just need to not write. I've basically taken the summer off, too hard to write with the kids home anyways. Just finished my first book in May and I mean it's polished. Only issue would be its length, a little short at 61,000 words. Hoping that's not an issue as it might have been a few years ago--since so many publishers are doing e-books first, then print. Just started sending out querys in May/June. Had one partial request (I think that's pretty good for such a short time) but they passed. Anyhoo--I will remember all your advice and am thankful for it. I am JAustenwannabe on Twitter if you'd like to follow my silliness. :)

      MaryAnn

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