Friday, 27 July 2012

Writer rejection: The tables are turning

Nobody faces rejection more than a writer does.  That's what makes writing difficult in the first place: you can spend months or years writing something only for it to be turned down by all the major publishing houses, with some accompanying feedback that essentially says you and your work are not good enough.  If you are writing or are considering it you need to be cognizant of the possibility of repeated rejection.

But often the best books were turned down several times:

Harry Potter has sold over 400 million copies.  However it was rejected 12 times before getting published by a then small publisher called Bloomsbury.

• Stephen King's debut novel titled Carrie was declined 30 times.  King himself threw the manuscript away but his wife recovered it from the trash and told him to try one more time.  Carrie sold over a million copies in its first year of publication.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett was turned down 60 times before someone decided to publish it.  Stockett's book subsequently spent over a hundred weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Get an editor: they're worth it

Even the best have been rejected.  Several times.  The confusion comes in when you aren't sure whether the rejection is due to the prejudice of the publisher or if your work really isn't up to standard.  While having belief in your work is obviously critical, it is not the only determinant of whether your work is publishable or not.  You therefore cannot be the only one who judges your work, and this is why you need an editor to provide fresh, professional guidance.  The painful feedback an editor may give your draft will spare you much pain later on.  They are not negotiable for any person that wishes to take writing seriously.

The landscape has changed for the better

Assuming both you and your editor concur that your manuscript is good, then it's down to old fashioned grit and persistence to get your work out there.  That said, there is now more assistance and choice for writers than ever before.  Now you can self publish.  John Locke and Amanda Hocking are golden children of this new avenue: both previously unknown names, they sold over a million copies each on Amazon through self publishing.  Getting the nod from a major publisher like Random House or Simon & Schuster is no longer a pre-requisite for sales success.  

In this new world of self-publishing, the responsibility of marketing falls on your shoulders.  In any case, publishers expect most new authors to promote their own work, so it's not as if self-publishing places an unreasonable demand on those who choose it.  What's encouraging though are the platforms one now has to raise awareness of their personal brand and work.  Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit can draw immense attention to you.  And besides, why should you as a new author give a traditional publisher such a large cut of the revenue when they do so little to actually sell your book?  

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