Dealing with rejections – Projected failure in the quest to be published

At some point in every writer’s career, rejection rears it’s ugly head. It’s nearly impossible to sell or publish something without sending it out more than a handful of times. That’s just how it goes. But realizing the reality of modern publishing and being able to cope with having someone dismiss your work and the time you spend perfecting it, can be hard.

I recently had a rejection of sorts put in my path. I had entered one of my novels in the Amazon-Break through novel of the Year contest and unfortunately my novel didn’t make it to the second round. A few other writers that I chat with are  also in a similar boat, either with the Amazon contest, or a number of other smaller contests. So the other night we had a chat about rejection and how we handle it. Of course everyone had different responses as is to be expected. But it led me to wonder what you, my followers, do in the face of rejection.

Do you cry? Mope around? Get back to work? Burn your manuscript?

I hope no one seriously contemplates the last one…

In any case I’m curious, so please feel free to leave a comment below about how you deal with being turned down. I’d love to hear from you.

I try to look at rejection like a test of sorts. My favorite author J.K. Rowling, was rejected 12 times for the first book in the Harry Potter series. Now, being fully aware that I am not J.K. Rowling, nor are any of my books at that level of awesome which the Harry Potter books achieved, it would be silly of me to feel like I failed as a writer just because my book got rejected. I’ve got to send that thing out and fail at least 12 times before it gets anywhere. More over, as I said, my book isn’t as great as HP1, so maybe I have to have 24 rejections before someone will decide to pick it up? Who knows.

While I may reevalute this line of reasoning when I’ve had 30+ rejections, for now, in the beginning of sending my work out, this method does me some good. It sets a standard by which I can fail. Eventually if I just keep sending it places, it’ll get published one way or another.

Now, I used J.K. Rowling as my example because the Harry Potter series is my favorite set of books of all time, however the same could be true for any author you idolize. Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 20 times. (So my standard, if I were a writer of horror would be 20-40). The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected 16 times. (16-32)

What this system of projected rejection really allows me to do is to put aside those feelings of failure and slog my way through that first batch or two of rejections. Just like when you write your first book, it’s incredibly difficult yet your second or third or fourth are each easier than the last to complete. I expect the same idea holds for sending out queries. Each time you draft one of those letters, each time you have to give a synopsis for your book, you become more precise, more apt at explaining yourself and thereby you improve. As you improve, at some point, someone is bound to notice you.

Basically what I’m telling you to do is to A) tell me how you accept rejection below and B) if you like my method of reasoning with failure, pick your favorite author, find out how may times they had to query their first book before it was accepted somewhere.

As with all things, if you persist, you will improve, and if you persistently send out your improving work, you’ll make it one day or another.

Happy Scribbling.

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Finishing books and finding new stories.

For the past several months I’ve been working hard at completing the first book in a series I’m currently writing and I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that I wanted to just take a break and working on something else.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know where the stories was going, or that it wasn’t any good, I was simply drained from having done so much work on it for so long. I’d been working within the series and specifically on that book for seven straight months without a break and it’s been back and forth across my desk for a year and a half now.Though I didn’t work on it consistently throughout that time of course. I wrote 1 complete novel and got about half way through 5 others in that time. But with my college schedule and life at hand, it took nearly 2 years for that book to reach it’s completion. Just in time for me to submit it to the Break though novel of the year Award hosted by Amazon, actually. 

Now, everyone varies I suppose, on how long it takes them to get an idea, to the point where they are ready to submit it to agents, or contests or publishing houses, so I don’t feel bad about this novel’s shelf life, however, I’d like to address something that will probably bother each of us writers and some point in our careers. 

Knowing when your book is done. Not just written, but edited and revised and pieced together as well as you could manage. I say this because, while I submitted my book to the Amazon contest, and while I think it will stand up fairly well on it’s own, I can still think of things I’d like to improve. I could spent another seven months, taking things out, adding them back in again, and still wind up with the same story I have right now. 

It’s hard to let your stories stand on their own two feet when you’ve held them in your hand for months, even years at a time. But if you don’t let go, your first book might be your last. You might forgo all the great novel ideas you’ve ever had, just because this one, could be a little bit better. 

Well fuck that. 

That’s what I’m here to say today. Don’t let your book consume you. If you find yourself changing the verbs of the same sentence ten times in a week, let go of it. Get out something new and just write. Yes, you want your books to be successful and for others to enjoy reading them, but there comes a point when editing and revising just become counter productive. So let your work out into the world and start on something new. 

It took me exactly 20 months to get from start to finish with this novel but, to put that in perspective, I spent 3 months writing the first draft, 5 months ignoring it, 1 month rereading revising,3 months ignoring, 1 month revising, and then 7 months fixing flaws in the series as a whole (9 planned books) editing, rewriting the entire book once, and editing twice more over. Over all the book saw 12 months of work, and 7 revision of both parts or the document as a whole. The first draft was 124k, the final was 54k. (This was the first book I ever wrote.)

To put that in an even better perspective. The book I’m currently working on was one of those that I got about half way through in the past year and a half. It has seen two weeks of work. One writing (where I wrote 32k, 12 of which was in the first day), and one week of plotting out the second half of the novel. I’ve got about 50k left to go according to my outline and I think It will be completely written before the month is up and edited before March is over. (This is the fifth I’ve started.)

This should serve as proof to those of you who are your first book that no, not all books are created equal. And now that I’ve gone through the whole process with one book, I’ve got a much better idea of my voice, and my own abilities. Make it through your first book ladies and gents and your well on your way to getting the hang of it. 

 

Happy Scribbling to you all and a lovely 1am too.

Serials on Kindle?

So this was brought to my attention after yesterday’s post about self publishing in a comment by mlfables who said, 

I think the third option may be serial novels (the latest book selling technique from Amazon).

Serial novels (where readers pay upfront for the first three chapters and then recieve the subsequent chapters over time) may suit me better than having to write three whole novels then going all out on promotion (which is the most effective way to promote self-published ebooks).

My initial response was huh? Serial novels… on Kindle. And then my curiosity got the best of me and I soon found myself trolling all sorts of pages for the low down on this new form of digital publishing. Of course, as we all know, serial novels aren’t a new thing, but the idea of these being added to something like Kindle is. And the whole idea made me start to think about… well, a lot of things actually. 

 

My second response to serial novels on Kindle wasn’t a thought so much as an emotion. Specifically that of confusion and annoyance.

Now I’d never had much cause to give this type of publishing style a thought before, but I’ve realized something. To me, from both the perspective of a reader and as a writer, serials novels just tick me off. 

 

As a reader my immediate response is No. Capital N o. I am a fast reader and I like to devour my books. I don’t want to sit around waiting for the next installment. When friends recommend book series, my first question is, “Is it completed, or in progress?”. If I’m going to have to wait a really long time, I would rather wait until all if not most of the books are completed and on the shelves of my nearest book store. Why would anyone want to wait for a book to be completed, chapter by chapter? That just kills the experience. I’ll forget things, it will grow dull in my mind, I’ll move on to other works. If I can’t read it in entirety all at once, why read it all?

Looking at this topic as a writer, I’m equally baffled. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a lot of information about this process, and please feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong or missing some piece of information, but I just don’t see how this is a good thing at all. 

If the piece is not complete, and truly is being written while it’s being published, there are a number of concerns that I have. Namely, consistency. My personal favorite kind of books are filled with layer after layer of nuances and details which are carefully drawn out through the whole piece. Symbols and sub plots abound, and make these books worth reading again and again because each time through offers some new experience or detail to notice. How can someone possibly create and manipulate a rich environment and stimulating characters when each chapter that’s published, limits the authors ability to revise and insert these elements?

More over some books can take years to craft and complete, and some never see a final product. Do you as a reader want to wait months or years for something to play out, or run the risk of it never being completed at all?

Now I know that the really big “plus” for serial novels, is that it give the readers a chance to have some input on the process of story telling and while this may be a draw for some, I find the whole idea appalling. 

The words be careful what you wish for come to mind. If your readers really only care about so and so hooking up with whoever, or Captain whoever catching the bad guy, then by all means, cut out the thirty chapters in the middle and just cut to the final chapters. But they’re not going to be any more satisfied than you will be with the resulting product. 

The idea that someone’s comments could or should have an influence on my stories is outrageous. It’s my story. I’ll write it how I damn well please and if people like it great, if they hate it fine. As long as I’m happy with it, then that’s all I care about. I’m not writing for people I’ve never met, half way across the world, I’m writing for me and while sometimes those two things over lap, I see no reason why someone else should have an influence on how my story is told. 

After the fact, when the story has gone through it’s own edits and has grown into something I’m proud of, then I’ll take the comments and suggestions from others. But when the story is fresh and immature and still expanding, it’s too fragile and precious to let the masses latch onto. 

While I appreciate feedback on my work, I don’t need or want someone messing with my creative process, and though knowing who likes who and who hates this character or what have you is interesting, it won’t make me change my work. I refuse to let others tell me how they think things should go in my own world because if something is happening, or if someone says something, it is because I meant it too. It has a reason for existing and ugh… 

 

I didn’t realize when I started this post how angry I’d get by the end of it. But clearly I’ve met my mark, said more than I needed to I’m sure and if you lasted this long dear readers, I apologize. In any case. 

 

I now need a fourth option for publishing cause clearly I’ve got enough angst to fill up the first three. 

 

As always if you have an comments or care to rant back with me please leave your thoughts below. In regards to this particular topic, if you would like to offer up some explanations as to why this does or doesn’t work for you as a reader or an author, please let me know. I’m interested to see what others think about this topic and how they view the process and their readers. 

 

Traditional publishing, self publishing. Can I have a third option?

Once upon a time, traditional publishing wasn’t traditional. It was the only way to go. But no longer.

Self publishing has been getting a lot of press time on blogs across the web as well as in connection to the rise of ereaders like the Kindle or the Nook. And while I own a Kindle, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading ebooks on it as well as my iphone and tablet, I’m not really feeling this new pressure to see everything digital.

As I gaze along the road of my future plans, I see many books being brought forth into the daylight and hopefully into loving hands. But I’d like those hands to be gripping paper backs, not ereaders.

This consumer likes the ease with which she can carry all the books she loves around with her, however that’s about where her love stops. 

I love to have a real book in my hands. I love the weight of it, and the smell and even though ebooks are cheaper, almost everything I’ve bought digitally, I will buy again in hard copy, just so I can have them at my finger tips. Literally. 

Thinking about publishing is something which I dread. I, like many writer’s I would imagine, would love to make a career out of writing however, so publishing in some form is sort of unavoidable. 

Now for years, I’ve thought I’d only ever go toward traditional publishing, but some of the more recent articles about self publishing have made me question that decision. In fact, the more I think about the whole process, the more leery I am of both options. 

 For me personally, the pros of self publishing are 

– No waiting. ( On agents, publishing houses, seasons, editors, whatever) I’m a particularly impatient person so this, one really means a lot.

-The ability to reinvent yourself and write in a variety of genres. It seems I’m only just beginning to discover that not falling into a niche could be a problem. But I write all over the place. Horror, urban fantasy, dysotopian sci-fi, Children’s fiction, YA fiction, Adult fiction. I like to explore it all, and I’m going to write what I want, how I want to. 

Cons

-Marketing. This is a naive thing to say, although since I’m aware of it, I suppose it could be worse but, I don’t want to market my work. I don’t want to have to make a twitter account, or another facebook or  whatever, just so that people can thumbs up my photo. I want to write. I just want to write, and whether anyone discovers what I’m writing, is something I’m not concerned with. With a career in mind, I should be concerned, but honestly, I just don’t give a damn about marketing.

-Do people really buy unknown authors ebooks? Now I can only speak for myself but I don’t. There are already an outrageous number of books on my to read list that I don’t have the time or the need to go searching for obscure new gems. With that in mind, I don’t really like my chances of someone finding my books online. 

-Snobbish tendencies. I can’t take self publishing seriously. I know it’s this whole revolution and it let’s authors beat the system or whatever, but I just can’t get over my negative perceptions of self publishing. All I can think of are fan fiction sites when I imagine self publishing and I’m immediately covered in goose bumps from poor spelling, ill conceived plots, and lack of ability. And this coming from someone who loves fanfiction. Despite what I know about it, neon flashing signs inside my mind blare ‘cop out’ whenever I even consider going the easy way out.

Unfortunately the pros of self publishing are the cons of traditional publishin and visa versa. 

So this is my plea to you, fellow bloggers and hopeful authors out there. Where’s our third option? 

I would like to choose door number three and not look back. 

Sigh. 

I’m just glad that I’m not at the point where I have to make this choice for real, because it just makes my head dizzy. 

Do you have preference for one kind of publishing or the other? Why do you feel the way you do? 

Please leave a comment and let me know.