My path to publication was fairly typical, which is to say that it was littered with near-misses and heart-wrenching rejections. So how does a writer fight through it all? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. But I can tell you what’s worked for me.
One. Toss the rejections the moment you receive them. Note them in your submissions log, then rip them to shreds. They serve no useful purpose.
Two. Each time you receive a rejection, make another submission. Tweak your query letter, revise your manuscript, whatever you think it takes. But get your story out there again.
Three. Keep writing. Never sit around, waiting for a “yes.” Always be working on your next project. Because chances are, your next project is going to be better than your last.
Four. Treat writing as a business. The simple fact of the matter is that you have a product to sell. Whether it was made in Taiwan or created with your own blood, sweat, and tears, it’s still simply a product. If your product’s not selling, improve it or manufacture another product.
Five. Never take rejections personally. They’re going to feel personal, at least initially. But you need to develop a thick skin, especially if you do plan on being published. Because that’s when the reviews start trickling in.
Six. Never set time limits. It’s fine to have goals, but you cannot control the speed of the publishing industry, and the fact is, the publishing industry moves at glacial speed. By giving yourself two or three years to get published, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.
Seven. Be career-oriented. Always see the big picture. Your goal shouldn’t be to publish one book but to build a career. After all, that’s what agents and publishers are looking for. With this in mind, rejection becomes somewhat useful. You don’t want to debut with anything but your best work, because bad reviews and low sales figures can kill an author’s career. And you don’t want to have to start the entire process all over again, under a different name.
Eight. Never take yourself too seriously. This advice goes for both aspiring writers as well as established writers.
Nine. Patience, persistence, resilience. These may sound trite, but they really are the keys to getting published.
Ten. Improve your writing. You should never stop learning, never quit honing your craft, whether you’re a debut novelist published by a small, independent press, or a New York Times Bestseller. Don’t be embarrassed to pick up books on writing – none of us know everything. And as for what we do know, we can always use a refresher.
If none of the above work, grab a drink and kick back with a good mystery. Might I recommend my debut novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE, or my latest release NIGHT ON FIRE. Until next time, happy writing.
Thanks so much for posting today, Douglas! Douglas writes the Kevin Corvelli mysteries for St. Martin’s Minotaur. His 2nd novel in the series, Night on Fire, released April 26. He’s on Twitter: @douglascorleone.
A trailer for NIGHT ON FIRE can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs9K1tlPFGw