Category Archives: Rejection

Wallowing and Other Coping Mechanisms

Yay! It’s Friday. Casey here.

A common misconception amongst non-writers (and new writers) is that once you’ve been agented, published or signed a book deal, you will never face rejection again.

Pig at OSV
Professional wallower.

Well, I’m here to say, “Not true. You can and will receive rejections. Again and again.” While, I recently sold a book, two more were rejected. That’s how it goes.

It’s inevitable. And the sting of the most recent rejection can be just as strong as that first one.

First off, know that you’re not alone. I know every single one of the Scribes has felt the same pain. Sometimes, the same book that resulted in a book deal was rejected by many other publishers. J.K. Rowling. Need I say more??

Casey’s tips for handling rejection:

1. Wallow. Yes, that’s right. Feel bad about it. At least for a little while. Depending on the tone of the rejection, my wallowing can last anywhere from 15 minutes to the entire day. Then, I brush myself off and keep going. Anytime I start dwelling means I have to work on my next book. Onward and upward, I say!!

2. Don’t take it personally. So hard to do. I won’t lie. Some writers get mad and defensive. Others assume they suck as writers. Most land somewhere in between.

3. Be professional (see above). Writing is a profession. Thank the agent or editor for their time. DO NOT, under any circumstances, argue with them, demand a more detailed reason or be rude. All that will do is label you as an amateur and possibly get you a “reputation”. Don’t be that writer.

4. If you received more specific feedback, put it away and come back to it when you can look it with a calm, reasoned mind. Then decide if you want to make changes or submit elsewhere as is. It goes without saying that if you are getting the same comment over and over ( and I don’t mean – this isn’t right for us or any of the other standard dismissals), then you may need to make changes.

5. Don’t throw in the towel. Keep writing and keep learning. Honestly, that should never stop. If you think you don’t have more to learn, then remember – Pride goeth before the fall. Just sayin’.

And finally, focus on the future. In my case, MYSTIC STORM is coming out the end of May 2013!! And here’s the cover:

MysticStorm2_850

Share and share alike! I know we all have rejections lurking in our past.

How Writers are Like Gardeners

I hope you all had a wonderful Earth Day and that you did your part in saving our beautiful planet. I spent a much needed day off in the garden this past weekend and it felt wonderful. Every drop of sweat, speck of dirt, and brutal scratches from wayward forsythia brought me closer to Nirvana. Crazy, I know. But how many writers love puttering in their gardens and digging in the fresh dirt? PJ Sharon here, sharing some of my interesting observations from my time with the earth. IMAG0023

While deep in thought as I toiled away, my mind could not fully escape my writer’s life, and lo and behold, I began to realize that writers are much like gardeners. Here’s how.

Writers start with a seed of an idea—a beautiful spark that takes hold deep in the fertile soil of imagination. The roots begin to spread, fashioning a network of connections to other characters and relationships, the story unfolding in our minds and shooting to the surface in search of the light of day and discovery. Our fingers dig away at the keyboard. Eventually we bring to life the intricate buds that seem to come from the cosmic funnel above—too perfect for our mere mortal ability to create without acceptance of divine intervention. Most days, I feel as if I’m a spectator in my writing process just as I understand that I am merely an extension of the Divine when I am in the garden–that I am ultimately not the one in control. That leaves me free to play, unencumbered by expectation. It would be nice if I could be so yielding in my writer’s life.

Interestingly though, even the technical aspects of writing mimic the gardener’s habits. As we writers plot and plan before we begin, so the gardener takes stock of their canvas. They prepare the soil, gather their tools, and imagine the larger picture and end result of the task ahead. They come to know their plants (characters), see all the necessary pieces (plot points), and work to put them in place with some semblance of order. Just as authors must balance narrative, dialogue, description, and backstory, the gardener must seek that same perfect balance, sometimes having to rearrange the plants and bulbs to assure proper flow of colors, textures, heights and compatibility.

Where the gardener adds water and fertilizer, the writer layers in depth of character and adds important details to show growth and development. When weeds invade the space, the gardener ruthlessly plucks them out in order to preserve the harmony of the whole. As such, writers too, need to be willing to be ruthless in their edits. As Stephen King says, we must be willing to “kill our darlings.” Although some weeds can add lovely color or thick greenery, left unchecked, they will infiltrate and destroy the harmony we seek to bring about, distracting us from the vibrant beauty of the flowers we plant.

Ultimately our reward comes when we share our story (garden) with others. Each story is unique to the writer as each garden is unique to the gardener. If the job is well done, the onlooker can see the soul of the creator on the page or in the beauty of a flawlessly designed garden. The love and care that goes into creating—whether it be a novel, a quilt, a beautiful painting, or a colorful garden—is what sets us apart in the animal kingdom. Our ability to create and enjoy beauty is a gift that we humans share, and it should not go unappreciated no matter if you are a novice or master–writer or gardener.

One of the wonderful lessons I have learned from working in a garden is patience. It’s easy to become discouraged by rejections, but just like rainy days, the harsh weather is sometimes necessary to bring the needed motivation for plants to grow and writers to forge on. Recognizing that we need both sunshine and rain to fully mature, the gardener takes this understanding in stride much better than the writer, who often becomes frustrated by those seemingly endless weeds and rainy days. A great review, a contest win, or kind word from a critique partner are sometimes enough of a reward to keep us going when we feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead, but as any gardener will tell you, the greatest satisfaction comes from basking in the joy of knowing that you have co-created something magnificent that grew from your own soul and from the hand of God.

But that’s just me.

So, dear readers, does this resonate with you? Are you a gardener, quilter, painter, or creator of some kind? Can you see how writing mirrors so many other creative endeavors? Kind of fascinating, isn’t it?

Writer Beware (How much should you spend on learning your craft?)

Hi there, Sugar here.  So I have a secret. Before I sold DANGEROUS CURVES AHEAD to St. Martin’s Press I never spent a dime on learning how to write. Oh I joined the RWA and my local chapter. I went to the monthly meetings, I read  a lot of the writers I admired. I found good critique partners and beta readers. But I never paid for a class, bought a book or shelled out hundreds of dollars on workshops. Am I that good of a writer? Well, I would like to think so, but the truth is, I’m not. I know I can be better. I know that there is always chance for growth. But do I want to pay thousands for a chance to grow. Absolutely not.

I don’t spend a ton of time surfing Twitter but when I do, it seems that somebody is always trying to sell writers something. Classes, books, retreats, all day workshops. They all promise to make your characters stronger, your dialogue wittier, your sex scenes filled with more… Umph. But with all that stuff out there how do you know what’s worthy of spending your hard earned cash on.

So I put together a little list of things you should think about before you shell out your money.

  1. Look carefully at who is giving the workshop/ writing the book/ selling the product. Do they have any credibility?  If they are teaching about craft, have they ever sold a book to a major publisher? Have they taught before? Have you heard good things about them?
  2. For self pubbers. If they are claiming that they are successful and can teach you how to be, can they prove it? Are they willing to share numbers? Secrets?
  3. Can you get what they are selling else where for free? There are a lot of blogs out, A LOT, for writers by writers where you can get good info for free. Read them.
  4. Can you use your friends?  Just before I was about to submit my manuscript I thought about paying to have a professional critique it, but then I saw the prices. They ranged anywhere from $300-$800. Way too rich for my blood. Plus it’s only one person’s opinion. What one person might love another might hate. So use your friends when you can. They are readers too.
  5. Have you checked out writer’s forums like Absolute Water Cooler or Query Tracker. You can learn much from reading the posts on there. 

Sure there are classes and books out there that are well worth it. But the best way to get better at writing is to get your butt in the chair and write. The more you write the better you get. I promise. It works. I’m proof.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about before spending your money on craft? And if I was going to spend some money, what books/ workshops/classes would you recommend?”

A Key Publishing Ingredient by Connie Mann

Writers talk a lot about all the different stars and planets that have to align to get a bookAngel Falls author Connie Mann published: the right project—well written–to the right agent and the right publisher at the right time—all wrapped up in God’s perfect timeline. All those things are absolutely true.

But there is one more element that is equally important, sometimes the one ingredient that can make all the difference: the right editor. I am blessed to have one of those.

Back in 2004, I thought my time as a writer had finally “arrived.” I’d written lots of articles, accumulated an impressive stack of rejection letters, and had finally sold both a non-fiction parenting book and Angel Falls, a novel. We were in the midst of final edits when things went awry.

The publisher changed their editorial direction and requested significant changes to Angel Falls. So Ramona Richards–the company’s freelance editor I’d been working with–and I went to work. When the publisher asked for still more changes, we made more. Finally, I realized if I kept going, I’d have to rip the heart and soul out of the story. It wouldn’t be the same story at all. I talked it over with Ramona and my agent and with a heavy heart, I said no. The deal was nixed.

To say I was discouraged would be like calling a hurricane a drizzle. I cried. Couldn’t write. I finally realized I had to get out of my house before I lost what little was left of my mind. I became a boat captain-and love it! I’ve found I need that balance between outside around people and inside my writing cave to keep me happy and creative.

Since I’m a writer at heart, the stories eventually pulled me back. I wrote Trapped and sold it to a small press. But Angel Falls was still the book of my heart.

Several years ago, I heard that Ramona had taken a job with Abingdon Press. I figured it was a long shot that she’d remember Angel Falls—do you KNOW how many stories an editor reads every year? But I mailed it to her anyway.

Ramona hadn’t forgotten. One day she emailed me to see if Angel Falls was still available. That SAME day, the manuscript arrived on her desk. Talk about God’s timing!

Angel Falls by Connie MannAnother 1 ½ years went by as she championed the story with Abingdon. Then came the email that began, “I know you thought this day would never come…” Fast forward another year, and Angel Falls is now available! I couldn’t be more grateful or excited.

My best advice? Go to conferences. Get to know the editors. That way, when your right project meets up with the right editor and God’s perfect timing, you’ll be ready.

Thank you, God. And thanks, Ramona, from the bottom of my heart.

And thank you, Connie, for sharing this amazing story about the journey of Angel Falls. I’m so excited for you, and this is a great story of perseverance for writers who wonder if “the call” will ever come. Find the editor/agent who loves your book and they will champion it for you.

Thanks being with us today, Connie!

Readers, Connie Mann loves stories of suspense, adventure and second chances. She offers encouragement to busy women on her blog:  www.BusyWomenBigDreams.com and is an active member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not writing, she’s usually on Central Florida’s waterways with local school children or her fabulous family. Please visit her online at: www.conniemann.com. And don’t forget to check out her new book Angel Falls at:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Falls-Connie-Mann/dp/1426756860/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361369788&sr=8-1&keywords=angel+falls+by+connie+mann

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/angel-falls-connie-mann/1112792558?ean=9781426756863

Christian Book:

http://www.christianbook.com/angel-falls-connie-neumann/9781426756863/pd/756863?item_code=WW&netp_id=1028634&event=ESRCG&view=details

 

 

 

Fear of failure or fear of success?

PJ Sharon, blogging from the Berkshires once again. I love these brief January warm ups that allow me to get out and snow shoe or cross country ski on one of the many trails behind my house. 0120011139After weeks of frigid cold temps, it felt good to be outside in the sunshine and breathing in some fresh air. It gave me time to contemplate my WIP, ponder my marketing strategies, and sing a few tunes to the wind. It also gave me an opportunity to take a moment to appreciate how far I’ve come and think about where I’m headed next.
A few hours of reflection led me to ask myself the hard questions: What is holding me back? Are there any obstacles I need to overcome to achieve my goals?

Then I remembered a lesson my sensei taught me many years ago. I had achieved the level of brown belt and he wanted me to compete in a regional tournament. When I refused, he shook his head, frustrated with my stubborn refusal. I tried to convince him that I couldn’t risk being injured, that I didn’t need to compete to know I was good enough, that I couldn’t afford it. I gave lots of excuses, and still he shook his head. Finally he asked me, “What are you afraid of?”

After a few days of honest analysis, I went to him after class. “Maybe I’m afraid of failure,” I admitted. He smiled. “I don’t think its failure you fear. I think you’re afraid of success.”

It took me a while to process this new perspective, but eventually I realized he was right. Competition at brown belt level for adults gets very tough, and it only gets tougher as you approach black belt. It requires a tremendous amount of dedication and focus to do well at that level. I was a married woman with a family and work responsibilities that were demanding. Taking on another huge commitment was not in my cards and I knew if I made the commitment to compete, I’d have to give it my all—which would have been more than I had to give. I decided that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go with my martial arts. In that case, my fear of success was the litmus test that helped me decide my direction–a decision ultimately based on choice and not fear.

That lesson has been with me many times over the years since. Whenever I feel myself holding back or not embracing my highest good, I ask those hard questions and wonder if my fear of success is what’s keeping me from moving forward or if the path before me is perhaps the wrong direction.

To this day, I continue to wonder whether the writer’s life is truly for me, but I’m not ready to give up all that I’ve accomplished and I’m not about to let my fear of success—or failure—stop me from becoming all that I can be. I know I can’t be alone in feeling this way as a writer. I think fear is one of the biggest stumbling blocks people deal with. If you’re not sure how to tell the difference, fear of failure is that doubt monster that says “you’re no good,” “no one will read your books,” or “you really suck at this writing thing.” While fear of success looks something like this:

If I finish a manuscript, then I have to submit it (that means queries, synopses, and rejections). I would bet there are as many writers who fear acceptance from an agent or editor as there are those who don’t submit for fear of the dreaded rejection letters. Any agent will tell you that they only receive a relative few of the submissions they request at conferences.

If I become published, I will have to sell my books, have a social network presence, learn marketing, file taxes, etc., etc. Whether you are traditionally or independently published, you will take on these responsibilities and more. Not everyone is prepared for the business side of writing. In fact, most writers are not. Being a published author is a career—a very challenging and complex career that requires a tremendous amount of time, commitment, and hard work. As the scripture says, “To one who is given much, much is expected.”

As you look at your goals for the coming year—as you contemplate how far you’ve come and ponder the path ahead, ask yourself this question: Is your fear of success holding you back? What will happen if you succeed in achieving your goals? Are you really ready for it? If not, what do you need to do to prepare yourself to meet the challenges head on?

Motivational speaker and financial guru, Harv Ecker says, “People don’t have what they want because they don’t know what they want.” Be clear about what it is you want your life to look like. Enjoy the control you have over your career and the opportunity you have to grow into it at your own pace. Don’t let your fear of success–or failure–drive your decisions.

Unlocked secret:  If you love writing, but aren’t sure you’re ready for that next big step, don’t push forward just because others expect it of you, or you’re feeling the need to keep up with the crowd and prove yourself. Continue learning the craft, growing as a writer, and learn the business side of publishing to see if it’s the kind of career you really want, because it definitely isn’t just about writing good books. And if being a published author has always been your dream, don’t let anything stand in your way—not even your fear of success. This is your life—the life you are creating with every choice you make. Choose consciously.

What about you? Are your fears holding you back? Which is it…fear of failure, or fear of success?

Adventures in Query-Land

Hi, there, Scribe fans. Suze here. By now you’ve probably read Sugar’s post from a few days ago about the process she went through over the last year, ultimately culminating in her getting a fab agent and an even fabber three-book deal. (Click here to read it). Since I’m in the same spot she was a year ago, querying and hoping to land an agent and sell my manuscript, I thought I’d give you a run-down on how things are working for me.

Despite the fact that I completed this manuscript a couple of years ago, I was never satisfied with the opening chapters and so I only submitted it a couple of places, and was summarily rejected. After rewriting Chapter One about eight times and tightening up my timeline this past summer, I finally had it where I thought it was marketable. I wrote a query letter and a synopsis, fixed them both with the help of colleagues/friends, and finally began the query process in earnest in September. As one of my favorite rerun detectives, Adrian Monk, might say, here’s what happened.

September – Queried seven agents/editors (two of these were requests from a conference). Two requests for partials.

October – Queried three agents. Two requests for fulls. Two form rejections. One rejection on a partial, but a very nice one (bummer! She liked it overall, loved aspects of it, but she just didn’t love it enough).

November – Queried four agents. Felt like I needed to get some energy moving on stagnant requests, so embarked on closet-cleaning and clutter-clearing in an effort to feng shui my writing career. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired results: Received one rejection on a full because she wasn’t representing my genre, but suggested I submit to another agent in the office. Then received one rejection on a partial because she wasn’t representing my genre, but she “loved my voice” and would be interested in a YA or contemporary if I ever wrote one of those. 

December – Queried three digital-first presses. One rejection on a full, but she did have nice things to say. Depressed! I really wanted that one.  One form rejection. Two requests for fulls.

So the three-month tally is:

  • 17 submissions
  • 7 rejections (none of them mean!)
  • 2 partials still out there (not counting the partials that were sent pursuant to agents’ submission guidelines)
  • 2 fulls still out there
  • 6 queries that have not been acted on one way or another

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was reportedly rejected 60 times. Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. I’m not in the depths of despair yet!

Where are you in your writing journey? Where do you want to be?

Things Writers Shouldn’t Do… Part 1

Most writers are intelligent people. I mean, it takes a lot of concentration and thought to sit down and put 80,000 words on page, to have a story with a beginning, middle and end, to have a work that makes sense. In fact writing is one of those things everybody seems to want to do, but few people can do. A lot of people sit down and start books but so few people ever finish them. Because it’s hard.

So if you are one of those writers who actually finishes a book, pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. You’re ahead of millions of other people. We all get excited when we type THE END. We all have dreams of taking the publishing world by storm. Of getting our books out there for the world to see and many of us will jump through hoops to make that dream happen. But lately I have been noticing some seemingly smart people do some very stupid things in order to get their books on the shelves.

So I’ve compiled a list, (I do love a list.), of thing you should never ever do when trying to get published.

1. Query an agent on Twitter. Of course unless they ask you to.

I was going through my agent’s Twitter feed and I noticed a writer who pitched her book in one line and followed it up with the question, “Can we talk?” My agent is always polite and professional and directed the woman to the agency’s website with a link. Which I thought was nice. But curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on the pitcher’s name to see that she had tweeted the same message to about twenty other agents. Some responded politely, like my agent did, most ignored. A couple of agents said please follow the rules and submit the correct way, to which the pitcher responded, “Can you send me the link to your website?” (Nutso!)

But one agent was kind enough to give her advice. He basically said that part of a writer’s job is to do their research and find the agent that is best suited to their projects. He also went on to say that agents only want to work with sane, reasonable people and mass tweeting a pitch was not going to work in her favor. I agreed.

I went through query hell. I had to research and look at website after website and make sure I was following all the submission guidelines. And believe me it’s soul sucking and depressing and anxiety producing but once you get the agent at the end it’s a badge of honor. I was almost prouder of getting an agent than I was a book deal. (Weird, I know.) But my point is; following the rules works. Especially if you want to go the agent route to publishing.

2. Act crazy at a pitch session. 

I had the pleasure of over seeing the pitch sessions at my chapter’s conference. I love that job because I’m a people watcher and seeing the dozens of writers go in and out of the room all day was like a gift from the writing gods.

There was one writer who was asking the agents and editors when their birthdays were and all kinds of creepy personal questions. (Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that!) I could see the horrified expressions of the A/E’s faces as the woman jotted notes about them in her note book.

There was also another writer who talked about how great everybody thought her book was and that all her friends and family thought it should be published. (Don’t do that either. It makes you sound really unprofessional and delusional.)

There was a writer who didn’t wear a bra, but I already blogged about that and most of you know how I feel about that one.

3. Be crazy and show up at the publisher’s office asking if they got a chance to read your manuscript.

This happened to my editor recently. OMG and WTF! Who in their right mind does that? You could be perfectly sane, but the nice people at the publishing company don’t know that. They’ll think you’re crazy and have the security people escort you out.

4. Call an agent or an editor and ask them why they didn’t like your book. 

Sometimes they’ll be nice enough to offer you feedback, but many times they won’t and that’s all part of the business. Don’t be a nut and call them (As a rule you should probably never call an agent, unless they are your agent.), even emailing to ask why is crossing the line with some agents and editors. Remember agents don’t spend their days just answering query letters and reading manuscripts. They are busy working on behalf of their established clients. Sometimes they just don’t have time to respond personally. Plus by doing that you are ruining your chance with other agents. They talk to each other. The publishing world is not so big. You don’t want to be the crazy writer that everyone avoids.

That’s it for part one. Check in next week to see what I add to the list. What are some things you think writers shouldn’t do.