Friday, February 27, 2009

Rejection: The Ugly "R" Word

I wish I had pearls of wisdom for how to handle rejection. I'd distribute those gems to myself and fellow writers generously. Unfortunately, rejection is part of the quest for publication. But at some point, when the rejections pour in, you do start to wonder: is it time to give up on this project? Or, even worse, is it time to give up on writing altogether and take up knitting?

Since I don't know how to knit and refuse to learn because I've seen someone jabbed by a knitting needle (it's not as harmless as one would think), I persevere with my writing. Two weeks ago, I received a rejection for another work Bound by Blood. Feeling sorry for myself, I went off to into my quagmire of doubt and self-pity for a bit. And because I like to depress myself, I opened up the database where I keep track of my queries to find the fifty-seven rejections I have for Sultana. That's right, fifty-seven rejections racked up between agents and publishers. Some writers might be awed by that number, others would say when I've racked up a hundred rejections, then it's time to re-evaluate. I have no clue how to evaluate the number, but I can pinpoint a few that have dented, dinged and chipped my writing soul.

Then today, I stumbled on a blog that asked a wonderful question; for those of you born to write, do you also believe you were born to be published? I've blogged about the joy of writing and I can even recall when I decided, more than four years ago, that the joy of writing had morphed into a real goal of publication. There's a huge difference between wanting to write and wanting to be widely read and receive criticism on your work. Writing can be a very self-indulgent, lonesome activity. It's another thing entirely to open up your work to the public. To invite criticism and rejection on a larger scale than a few queries could ever solicit.

When I was down in the dumps, a lovely member of a critique group helped me put a smile on my face again, with this hilarious take on how one author handled rejection.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

We Are The Market?

Among my favorite blogs are the blogs of agents, editors and/or their assistants, e.g. Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents and The Rejecter. I' ve had some writing friends say that an agent who blogs isn't selling, but we all need a little down time in my opinion. And, blogs by contacts in the industry are the first stop for those of us still struggling to secure contracts.

A little while back, I had a slight meltdown entitled Watch the Market . Then today, I read the Rejecter's latest blog article. In part, it explained the publishing market and why it is the way it is: readers buy the books, publishing companies track what readers buy, and editors contract for similar works, either as more of the same or with a slightly different twist. So, if I want to see more historical fiction out there, I have to buy more. Or, if we all go out and buy self help or memoirs, there'll be more of the same. Got it now? Good because if there's anything I love more than writing a book, it's reading one. Reading has been one of my first loves since I was a child and my collection has grown to the point where I now give away all my favorite fiction because my shelves are filled with the research books I need. But honestly, I never gave much thought to how I might be influencing the type of books that clutter bookstores.

This whole thing has a chicken or egg feel to it, though. We tell the publishers, "yes, we want to see more great historical fiction" so they publish more. Except, who really sets the market in motion: the writer who writes very well, the agent who makes the sale, the editor who accepts the manuscript, the marketing team's blitzkrieg of promotions or the readers, like me, who love the book / author and just want more of the same?

I'm going to be thinking about this one for a bit.

Time flies when you're having fun, or writing novels.

It's been a tremendous twelve months. A new job and health issues have impacted my writing time, but I'm still at it, trying to wrap...