10 Tips to Banish the Unpublished Writer Blues
by Kathy Carmichael
by Kathy Carmichael
- You aren’t being rejected: When you receive a rejection letter, it’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t being rejected—your book doesn’t work for the publishing house. Don’t take the rejection personally—take it as a sign that your storyline isn’t working. What elements didn’t work? What elements did? This can help you in plotting your next book and help you uncover areas of weakness. Looking at the big picture—it’s the story, not you—can help make your next book the one that will sell.
- Positive affirmations: I keep notes taped over my computer that direct where I want to go. Before my first sale, I had a note that said: “I am a multipublished author.” After selling, I replaced with this note: “I am a bestselling author.”
- Give yourself time to mourn: Give yourself a set time for mourning a rejection such as 24–48 hours. During that time you’re allowed to whine, moan and bitch. After that time, it’s back to work.
- The More You Write, The More You Grow: Write. Write. Write.
- Consider other markets: Don’t be afraid to consider markets other than those you’ve been targeting. My unwillingness to consider other markets is directly related, I believe, to my not selling sooner. Keep your options open.
- Just ask: If your rejection states that you are close, if it has more details than the usual form rejection, consider writing or calling the editor to see if you can revise and resubmit. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
- Enter contests: Contests can be a way to multiply submit when your manuscript is on submission at a house that doesn’t permit it. Finalling in a contest can get you editorial interest—and you can parlay that interest into a relationship with the editor.
- Don’t get mad, get busy: There are times you want to toss the editor on a sacrificial bonfire—instead, look carefully at any feedback you’re receiving. Look for any sort of concensus on where you’re going wrong. Target that area of weakness for strengthening. Write, rewrite, write some more.
- Out with the old: Sometimes you have to put away the old book that’s been revised to death and write something new and fresh. Stubborness is what allows us to persist, but it can also be our greatest weakness. Don’t be too stubborn to move on.
- Accent the Positive: Did you make finals in a contest? Celebrate it. Did an editor ask to read your manuscript? Celebrate it. Did your critique group give you the thumbs up on your latest scene? Celebrate it. Celebrating your successes, however minor, helps to keep your chin up and gives you optimism. Celebrate by giving yourself a pat on the back, by displaying your finalist certificates near where you write and by sharing with other writing friends. Celebrating your wins will give you the courage to continue persisting. And if you keep writing and submitting, eventually, you will sell, guaranteed.