Tuesday, June 12, 2012
A friend of mine, Veda Boyd Jones, asked me for advice on how to bounce back from rejection. She's writing an article on the subject. I'll share what I sent to her, but I'd love to hear what other folks have to share about their own approach to dealing with rejection.
Whether it’s being picked last for the team or being told your plot is too confusing to follow, rejection is always an arrow to the heart. And with such injuries, you can respond by donning armor and attitude. First, feel free to say, ouch! Who wouldn’t with a proverbial arrow sticking out of your chest? Once you’ve acknowledged the sting, arm yourself with the fact that any rejection is part opinion, part market analysis, and part literary response. It’s your job to figure out how much of each is at the base of it. If the comments reflect a reader based response like, “I’m not that fond of …,” then you can surmise that that portion of the rejection is personal. Some editors aren’t fond of certain genres or even certain things. I had an editor reject a book of mine because one of the characters was elderly and she wasn’t that fond of old people! If the editor talks about having a tough time selling marketing on the idea or calls it a “quiet” book or mentions its lack of broad appeal, then you know the issue is marketing. On the other hand, if the editor critiques the craft – the development of the characters, the plot, etc, then you know the issue was the level of development. It also helps to get a variety of opinions—do you see a pattern in the types of responses editors are giving you? Then follow the pattern where it leads you.
In response, find an editor who loves what you’re writing based on other books s/he has worked on; seek a publisher who markets the type of book you’re writing (different publishers have different target audiences); and/or hone the craft of your manuscript.
Above all, remember that what you are is a writer, it’s a part of you—what you write is a product and when an editor critiques your work—it’s not you that’s being critiqued, it’s just one thing you’ve written and that story may or may not merge into something new over its lifetime. You certainly have plenty more to say in the many stories you’ll write over your lifetime, so don’t take it personally—publishing is part of the profession of being an author, writing is our passion. Focus on the passion and leave the book selling to the professionals.