Sunday, 26 February 2012

Rejected Submissions - Some things to consider

The other day,  I received a nice thanks but no thanks from Jo Fletcher Books for my zombie novel. In the email it said that just because it wasn't for them didn't mean other publishers would feel the same way.

Your dog may share your sadness when you get a rejection.

At first I got upset, felt worthless, told myself nothing good would happen ever again.  Then I stopped mooching and thought 'hey, there's a blog post in this.'

 That brings me to my first point -

1. A publisher or agent saying 'no' is like someone expressing their opinion. Think of it that way and it doesn't seem so bad.

2. Before you send your manuscript have at least 6 other publishers/agents you can send it to. I did and I'm now working on a new submission package. Keep on updating that list.

3. Publishers & agents get deluged with submissions. There's a chance yours didn't get read. They simply don't have the time to read everybody's work.

4. Many fine books that have become classics were turned down by publishers time and time again, but their authors never gave up. Why should you?

5. Did you send it to the right person? Send a children's book to someone specialising in chick lit and off course you'll get a great big NO.

6. They might have a similar book planned/or on their books. Sometimes a rejection can be down to bad timing.

Note – Even if you do everything right you can still get a big fat NO.

Friday, 24 February 2012

It's a hard knock (writing) life

Since the decision was made for me that I was going to be a writer (does anyone actually choose to have a life full of disappointment), I have learnt quite a few things that have surprised me -

Go on punch yourself in the face. That's what it feels like to be a writer.

1. Publishers can give unlimited numbers of your books away free, without telling you. See Could your publisher give your book away free if you want to find out what I'm babbling about.

2. When your writing's going well you can feel it. You're desperate to write; to get back to your characters because they're real in your head. But, when your writing's going badly you can barely put an address on a freaking envelope.

3. Royalty statements are so confusing Einstein couldn't figure them out. What formula do they use? The pull it out your butt formula.

4. It's way too easy to live on junk food, fizzy drinks and prescription drugs when you're a writer. Grapes and herbal teas don't give you that sugar hit you need. Drinking way too much booze and puffing away like we're still in the steam age are problems too. And let's not start on the depression and the crumbling sense of self-worth tied into whether some stranger says nay or yay to the novel/article/poem you've been lovingly crafting by candlelight because the power's off again or maybe you just forgot to pay the bill. Again.

5. Sometimes you will actually wonder if your publisher gives two figs about your book. You may sign a contract and then discover communicating with them is like pulling out your own teeth with a pair of pliers. Emails will go unanswered or ignored. Deadlines they came up with will pass without so much as a tweet from them. You'll feel like the mouldy salad at the back of the fridge: forgotten and minging and waiting to be binned.

6. If you were a plumber nobody expects you to work for free, yet when it comes to paying writers people can be real tight wads. I've lost count of the number of editors who've told me how much they've loved my article - often ones I've pulled out of the hat at the last minute cos their pal ditzy dolittle who they asked to write it in the first place couldn't do it because she's having her belly button defluffed/her brain waxed - only for me to have to battle for the next 6 months to get paid.

Of course these negatives can be offset by the joy of seeing the book/article/poem you wrote published, but boy, have you earned it.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Getting Published: The Hard Truth

At times when you're trying to get published it can feel like you're standing outside a shop where the closed sign has gone up and then they pull down the shutters when they see you coming.

It's tough going but there are some things you can do to give yourself a fighting chance -

Read as much as you can and in as many genres as you can. Whenever I'm stuck with a bit in my novel, reading inspires me.

Write as much as you can and accept that you may have to write a lot of novels or non-fiction books before you get published. This may be because your first work is rubbish/not what they're publishing right now/needed more work that you realised. I wrote 4 full sized novels before I had my novella accepted by Pulp Press. I also started many more.

Accept you will have some near misses. The man who discovered JK Rowling was interested in my non-fiction book but it came to nothing. The publisher of my first ever published book, a humour title wanted my next two books, but then they decided to cut back on their publishing schedule and they couldn't do the 2 books.
Don't be snooty about any other genre. This is important because you might be missing out on the genre your writing might be most suited for.

Get to know other writers so you can share your tales of woe and success. Yes, I did say success. My favourite writers' forum is Talkback. Great people who are so supportive and know what it's like to be a writer.

Keep on submitting to publishers and agents and ALWAYS follow their guidelines. If you don't you might as well throw your submission in the bin. For instance, most agents & publishers don't want to see your full manuscript they may want to see 10,000 words or their first 3 chapters and a synopsis.

Get feedback on your work wherever you can. It's so difficult to see your work as others see it. If you can't get feedback edit your work by printing it out or viewing it on an ebook reader. It helps you to get your editor's hat on.

P.S. After writing this, I got the first rejection for my zombie book. Off to cry into a bucket then I’ll give myself a kick up the backside and get on with it. Writers who get published get published because they NEVER give up.

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

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