All Things Writing

I've Been Rejected... And You Will Be Too

April 28, 2021 Bryan the Writer Season 2 Episode 12
All Things Writing
I've Been Rejected... And You Will Be Too
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to this next episode of All Things Writing. I am your host, Bryan Nowak.

Do you hate rejection? Naturally, you do, we all hate rejection. However, rejection is a part of life when you are a writer. Most of us avoid rejection like we would avoid the day-old package of gas station sushi. And yet, dear writer, I am going to let you in on a little secret about rejection.

You need it.

Rejection hurts, but not as much as flat-out failure. Each rejection you get is like Thomas Edison’s proverbial failed lightbulb experiment. When asked about having failed two thousand times, he responded that each failure was one way he now knew would not work.

As a writer you’re going to face rejection in many forms. Whether that rejection comes from a reader, an editor, or a publisher it still stings.

In this episode I’m going to talk about rejection, how to take it on board and learn from it. You want those rejections; you need those rejections. Print them off and tacked them up on the wall. And sometimes, you’re going to want to print them off and put them into your three-ring binder so you can reference them from time to time. Because, buried in that rejection there’s gold.

As always, thank you for listening to the show. If you like the show and want to make a donation, feel free to PayPal me at [email protected]. And if there are any burning topics you want me to talk about, feel free to email me at that same email address. I’ll be happy to discuss anything in the world of writing.

If you would like to read any of my novels, check me out here.

Until next time, this is Bryan the Writer, signing off.

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Good day to you and welcome to the podcast. As you know, this is the Brian the writer coming at you with words and wisdom about the writing life.

In 2013 I started writing. I promised myself one thing, and that is if I could write one book, then I could continue. Well, I have actually written 10 books which are now in various states of the editing. Nine of those books have actually been published in or out available for you to look at. They are all [email protected], just follow the link in the show notes.

You may think that this entitles me to some bit of success. And to what extent you’re right, I do feel successful as a writer. As I’ve said another shows I gauge success around the idea that I entertain someone with my books.

I still suffer rejection. And that’s what the show is about, the idea of rejection.

Rejection is very much a part of being a writer, no matter what you do you are going to get rejected. Magazines, publishers, editors, agents, and readers are all good to be sources of rejection from time to time. I very recently face rejection myself in the form of a publisher telling me know that they didn’t want to publish my novel.

Why would I admit this to you? Shouldn’t this be a mark of failure? Not really, it’s not a mark of failure at all. You see, failure can be looked at one of several ways. You can look at it as a rejection of you personally, rejection of you professionally, or rejection based on some uncontrollable factor that you were unable to plan for.

All of those can be true, and none of them can be true at the same time. Your ask yourself, what in the world am I talking about? Well let me explain.

Authors in general understand what it takes to write a novel. Novels take persistence, time, frustration, and yes a little bit of your sanity. It’s flat out a lot of work. So other authors are going to see your first novel as sort of a payment into a special club.

As I said before your first novel likely is gonna be very good. That’s not your fault, in the sense that you’re really cutting your teeth on your first project. I’ve learned so much between book 1 and book 10 that I have a much firmer grasp on what it takes to write good prose. But I’m nowhere near as good as I’m going to be when I had book 20. Does that make sense?

Recently I dipped my hand into the turbulent waters that is cover creation. I was very proud of my effort, I loved it. I was so proud of it in fact that I shared my effort with a group that I’m a member of. Becoming a member of this group involves having written and published her first novel. So everyone in this community, for the most part, has multiple books under their belt. Several of the members are famous award-winning authors.

You would expect them to go easy on me, since we all share a common pedigree. Nope, you would be wrong. If anything, they were far more critical than many people would’ve been. But that’s the point of sharing.

Before I go on to what I learned from this experience, let me talk about the other types of rejection. I certainly face professional rejection. As an author generally speaking I have not experienced much personal rejection, I know people who have. It stings, because as humans we tend to evaluate our self-worth based on how other people see us. I don’t have any good advice on this topic other than to say you need to grow thicker skin. I once had somebody give me a one star review and tell me I was the worst author in the world. The review was a troll who just went in and wrote the review based on never having read the book.

I chose to take a different view of it. Instead of stewing and how this person could personally attack me, I took joy in the fact that based on his one star review six people purchased the book to see if it was that bad. Out of those six people that purchased I got a four star review and a five star review. And, eventually the one star review is taken now my Amazon because it was a troll.

Why do I tell you this? Well it’s very simple, you have to be okay with yourself in order to ensure that you are solid enough to take the criticism when it comes. Because you will get criticized. There are people who will criticize your work without ever having read it, without ever having understood it, and without ever having met you. 

If you are a person is constantly worried about what other people think about you, writing is not your thing. You cannot be one of those people that collapses into a puddle of tears every time somebody personally criticizes you. You need to go back and remember why you started writing in the first place.

Rejection from publishers is a thing that’s going to happen. Take that rejection, and nail it to the wall. It’s not a rejection at all. You learn one thing from that experience, and that’s what’s important. It’s a slip of paper that in its own way as currency to tell you that you tried. Yes, you failed, but you’re going to fail more often than you succeed in this business.

Agents are another ball of wax. Nine times out of 10 if an agent rejection you it’s going to be a form letter that just says hey, you don’t fit with us. Fine, tack that to the wall just like you tacked up the rejections from the publishers. But one time on a 10 a publishers going to give you some valuable advice. Print that email off, or save that letter, and put it in your three ring binder that I told you to make all while ago. This advice is solid gold.

It comes from somebody who’s in the industry and knows what they’re talking about. This information is valuable in that it tells you what you did right, and what you did wrong. It may be something as simple as forgetting to actually fill out the forms correctly that they required if you sent an inquiry. Perhaps an email wasn’t formatted correctly. Maybe your manuscript wasn’t formatted exactly the way they wanted to be. These things happen. But it also is a lesson in attention to detail. You need to pay attention to what the agent wants in order to give them exactly what they need to make it to the top.

Another thing I’ll point out to is that agents tend to get a lot of submissions. Don’t be angry with them if you just get back a form letter. You may be one of several hundred books that that agent received.

When you start working on your first novel you were going to be convinced at one point that this is the greatest novel ever written. Likewise, you’re going to reach a point where you hate every word on that page. That’s okay, your editor is gonna hate every word on that page two.

Although I’d love to tell you that you’re gonna find an editor who’s going to love you and coddle you and grow you, I can’t. The reality is that an editor lives off two things and those are red ink and the tears of authors. 

I’m just kidding, my editor friends. We all know that you’re really living off of caffeine and anger.

Consider what an editor does. Most of the time editors spend trying to make your manuscript better. But they don’t have all day. Editors allot a certain amount of time to work on your project. And if your project takes longer than they have time for, they may flat out reject it.

If you don’t do the diligence required to at least make sure your manuscript is somewhat passable, they’re not can I be happy with you. I’ve actually heard of editors who charge more to certain authors because they know their manuscript is going to take more time. In essence, the author didn’t follow any kind of self editing regime before they sent it in.

My point is very simple, don’t get mad at the editor when they come back with you with a much red marks. Except for rare cases, you don’t know more than the editor does. An editor does this professionally and, since is the first time they’re saying your manuscript it is a situation where they can be objective. You can’t say the same thing since you’ve been staring at your words four months.

Readers. yes, sometimes readers are going to reject you. That’s a fact of life as a writer and because of that fact, you can’t please them all. I recently read a review that was shared with another author where someone said that there was way too much sex in their novel. It’s a romance novel. Of course there’s any sex. You wouldn’t by one of my horror novels and then complain that there’s too much horror in it. Ironically I’ve had people tell me that there wasn’t enough horror in it. There is no accounting for taste.

This is a shorter show than my normal shows mostly because it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. The whole reason I’m even talking about this topic this week has mostly to do with the fact that I got so much rejection on my first attempt to design my own book cover. The general consensus was not that it was a bad cover, but it was more than it completely missed the mark.

A famous author, who shall remain nameless, provided me several tips on how to make it better. But that’s just the thing, I made a mistake and in some ways I knew it was a mistake. And yet I shared that mistake with people in the business that I trusted. Understandably, they came at me with both guns blazing but in every one of those shots was really good advice. These were things I could use, to make my cover better. It resulted in a complete reconstruction of the book cover. I’m better for it.

If you’re going to be an author you need to do some soul-searching. Sit down and think about how you take criticism and truly analyze what healthy mechanisms you can use to onboard useful information even when you’re being criticized. I knew my fellow authors were not criticizing me because they wanted to criticize me. They wanted to help me. And if I could buy each one of them a beer, I would.

I want to thank you for joining me this week on all things, this is Brian the writer thanking you for joining me today and if there 

 are any burning questions that you want me to tackle on the show, please send them to me at my email address Bryanthe[email protected]. I love to answer questions.

And, if you’re interested in supporting the show, just hit the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You can also send money to me via PayPal at Bryanthe[email protected] please be assured that all of your money goes to support my efforts. There are also plenty of sponsorship slots available, you can contact me at the same email. They’re reasonably priced you can buy an entire month for $30 or an individual show for the low low price of $10. Remember, a mention of your business on all things writing exists on the web and will be in the ether for eternity.

And that’s it for this episode of all things writing, next week is a bye week for me, but my intention is to come back with a couple of episodes on books I’ve read and maybe will do a little something about research. It seems like we haven’t done a research on a while. I am trying to line up and editor to come talk to you and a publisher if I can find one who wants to be on the show.

Until next time this is Brian the writer, signing off