Handling Publisher's Rejections
edited: Saturday, August 25, 2007
By E. S. Cauldwell
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2007
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Learn how to handle rejection from anyone without loosing your cool.
The Value of Publisher’s Rejections
By ES Cauldwell
Receiving rejection slips isn’t life threatening; it’s part of life’s lessons. I have written for ten years. Compared to other professional writers, that’s not a long time.
We all receive rejections whether we want them or not. Instead of allowing them to vanquish us, learn to see them as part of your ‘writer’s curriculum.’ You as well as I have heard horror lines:
“I have enough rejection slips to paper my walls.”
“Rejection slips and I go hand-in-hand together.”
“It’s a measure of my failure level.”
When receiving rejections writers feel they have lost inches to their stature. I know the feeling, it hurts. The lines in rejection notices range from the sublime to the ridiculous. I find when I receive my slips I initially tend to lose my head: tears, frustration, it’s as if I’ve lost my best friend. Whatever kind of rejection you receive, there are better ways of handling it than eating a quart of chocolate ice cream, drinking alcohol, or screaming at the first person who approaches you.
There are two sets of methods that the writer should use when dealing with rejections.
First Line of Defense: Emotional Help
1. Do Exercises. Walk it off, hit the treadmill or an exercise machine. Run around the yard or inside a school gym. Go into an interior room and punch your pillow.
2. Talk to the Mirror. Take a good look at yourself. What do you see? An author or a writer trying to compete with several trillion other authors or writers. You know what? It takes guts submitting your writing to publishers.
3. Don’t take it personally. Publishers are doing their jobs the same way the writer does.
4. Just because the publisher rejects your project doesn’t mean that you can’t write. Like most people, publishers have limited time capacity. Or the editor gets up on the wrong side of the bed, and that day he rejects projects on an emotional level.
5. Remember that publishers and their editors are under siege. Publishers receive thousands of submissions every day. They read agent submitted projects first. When they have time, they read through the projects that have no agent to represent them. It is impossible for the publisher’s editors to respond to so much mail.
I’ve been told by publishing companies that having your project accepted by a publisher is a ‘crap shoot.’ In one way, I’ve been fortunate. The editors often comment on my project and tell me what’s wrong and how to improve my writing. Editors have written initialed notes to me asking that I make changes and resubmit. If you have received something like this, take heart; you’re making progress.
Turn your writing around and submitting it better
1. When a writer receives a rejection, his/her ‘gut’ emotions kick in. The writer reacts in anger, frustration, and desperation. Their thinking isn’t rational and in consequence, they might submit their projects to on-line publishers that aren’t appropriate for your project. When submitting your project, do your homework first. Check out Science Fiction Writers of America. This organization provides the writer with special information on what the status is of that particular publishing company. This section is known as Preditor and Editor Section. The SFWA URL is: http://www.sfwa.org. Click on this link http://www.agentresearch.com. Read what SFWA has to say about them. THIS SERVICE IS FREE. Make use of it. The project that you save might be your own
2. Keep a Journal. Write down all the entries you submitted to different publishers. Keep track of your rejections. Write down, what if anything, came from the editor. Add your own comments about what your weaknesses are. Learn from them. Read! Read! Read! Study other writers. Read about how other authors and writers learn from their own rejection curves. Turn your rejection into a learning experience that you can use repetitively in your writing. Make use of your rejections. There’s something improvable with everyone’s writing.
3. It’s Not Personal. Despite what many writers believe or think, publishers aren’t out to get you. But not reading the publisher’s submission guidelines for submission might: (a) have them trash your project, (b) return it to sender unread, and (c) the publisher might not ever contact the writer again. Further, publishers network among themselves. Writers can be blacklisted by publishers when not professional in their manner and approach. Publishers have no time to waste.
4. Prove to them that you are a good writer. Keep submitting to e-zines, newsletters, and magazines. Keep writing articles. Remember, most publishers simply aren’t aware of your ability to write. These people get one quick look at your cover letter, bio and your submission per their guidelines.
I’ve read that the first three paragraphs in your sample chapters and query letter must grab the publisher by the throat or the writer will receive a rejection slip. Does your writing attract an editor’s attention promptly? Does your writing take a different approach to a wearisome topic or genre than the ones rotting in some distributor’s warehouse?
5. Encouragement is helpful. Go back to your critique group and have them go over your manuscript. They can pinpoint glaring errors or weaknesses in your project because they’re not so close to the material as you are.
6. Keep telling yourself that you can write. Remember, writing takes time.
During the past ten years, I have had two books published; one is nonfiction and the other an alternate history with a twist. One was published by a small publisher and sold over 3,000 copies until my Distributor went bankrupt. Try not to let your book die. Go to your publisher and discuss possible methods
that can keep your book alive.
Rejection doesn’t have to hurt, limit your ability, or hold you back. When you were in college, your professor marked up your writing with red ink. Remember his/her final words often were: “Ignore the mark. Next time you’ll do better.” Why? Because you’re weaknesses were now evident and you could improve your work until your writing was better.
Rejection is like writing at school. The rejections tell you your writing still requires improvement. When these weaknesses and other errors are fixed, your writing will sparkle and glow.
Rejection is STRESS that you don’t want or have time for. Stress is physical, mental, and emotional starvation for your writing creativity.
Deal with it, and then, get over it!