Right after I signed with Pandamoon Publishing, I wrote this article for their blog.
The Highly-Technical Art of Not Quitting
If you’re a writer, you know how it feels to get rejected, and that it can come in many different forms. “Not a good fit.” “Decided to pass.” “Blah, blah, blah.”
You can’t spell “rejection” without “Oh my God! Why are you sending me this crap? You write like a toddler! Go away and never contact me again, you loser!”
Well, you can, really…but you know what I mean.
If you’re not a writer, you might not realize how painful it is to get a “no thanks, but no thanks” e-mail from an agent. It’s like someone telling you that your baby is ugly. But with writing, it’s inevitable, it’s a guaranteed aspect of the submission process, and, to put it bluntly, it ain’t fun. When we began writing, all of us were warned by experienced writers that we would feel the sting of a rejection letter numerous times, but we weren’t prepared for how bad it felt to have someone tell us we weren’t good enough.
And when I say “we,” I mean me.
I’ve been trying to get published for over twenty-five years. I’ve written short stories, songs, and a novel, and nobody seemed to like them. Agents. Publishers. Magazines. If I didn’t get a rejection, I got no response at all, which was even worse in its own way. It felt like they couldn’t respond to my query letter because they were too busy laughing at me. Or at my ugly baby.
I self-published a novel that took me years to write, but I don’t consider that “really published.” Anyone can write something and publish it themselves, but it hasn’t been vetted by someone in the publishing industry who feels strongly enough to make money from it. I sold less than 25 copies of that novel…mostly to family and friends who felt sorry for me. To this day, I don’t consider it my debut novel. It’s just something I wrote once upon a time.
I couldn’t consider myself a legitimate author until an agent or publisher offered me a contract. To me, that’s when I would be properly vetted.
My second novel got rejections. Lots of them. More than 145 of them, actually. “You just haven’t put it in front of the right set of eyes yet,” people would tell me. “Don’t give up.” But after more than a quarter-century of agents and publishers telling me I wasn’t good enough, I was ready to quit. I couldn’t take any more of the rejections that had worn my confidence down to a nub. I personally felt my novel was a good story, but the publishing business was telling me otherwise.
When I told my family and friends that I was considering quitting, they got mad and yelled at me and called me all kinds of bad names and told me they would beat me to within an inch of my life if I stopped.
Actually, that’s not true. They didn’t really call me bad names.
So, I stuck with it, and I didn’t quit. I eventually entered my second novel – my first “real” novel — in the #Pit2Pub pitch party on Twitter, and several months later, I was offered a contract from Pandamoon Publishing. When I received the e-mail from Zara Kramer telling me the good news, I learned a few huge lessons.
Dreams can come true. Persevere.
And at all cost, avoid getting beaten to within an inch of your life by your family and friends.