Managing rejections – again!

I regularly receive rejections, and occasionally receive feedback. Why so many rejections? Well for a start, I regularly submit my work to various publishers, journals and competitions. You don’t get rejected if you don’t submit.

Whenever I receive a rejection, I’m left with a feeling of emptiness, and in some cases, feel a little embarrassed and stupid because I sent in a piece of work that didn’t cut the mustard.

Yesterday I received two knock backs for two separate pieces of work. (With most publishers requesting that you don’t submit pieces with multiple pitch enquiries in the market, I find myself with a couple of projects ready for pitching at the same time).

Both of these rejections were very polite, and came with useful feedback. One stated that they genuinely liked my submission, and how I had presented it, but that it didn’t fit with the style of pieces they were aiming for in the current season’s publications. They added that they had a work of similar style, and hadn’t been able to get market traction with it. I believe them. Why would they bother sending a one page response to an emerging author when a “thanks but no thanks” would do.

The other was for a short story. The feedback was that my dialogue “felt a bit flat” in places, and that the formatting of my manuscript was a little unusual. I’m not sure what happened with the formatting, it looks fine on my computer, but I will removed all formatting and start again when I’m next ready to submit it.

The issues with the dialogue definitely need investigating. This had not been brought to my attention by any of the many folk I had read through it. Perhaps they were just being polite when they said that it was great, or maybe some thought that something was a little off, but weren’t sure what it was. Or maybe they didn’t have the expertise to spot it.

One of my fellow writer’s recently received feedback on a piece saying that it was, among other things, “pedestrian”. I had personally found it to be well written and entertaining, but then again, I’m not reviewing 40 pieces of work in the same genre everyday.

I suspect that I’m in need of a writing mentor to get me over some of the stylist hurdles, but I can’t afford to employ one, and don’t qualify under any of the ‘disadvantaged artist’ schemes for entry into a special program. Yeah, I know – me and everybody else. Tough luck, huh. But I will continue to plug away at it, until I get there.

On a positive note, these days I almost always receive rejections with feedback and words of encouragement. This is very different from the ones I used to receive when I started submitting works four years ago (no response, one-liners etc.). Progress is progress.

Rejections in all areas of life are disheartening, but every experience brings you closer to getting that acceptance. So to all of you budding writers out there who are feeling a bit down about your perceived lack of success, hang in there and keep submitting, reviewing, and re-submitting your work. You can’t win the draw if you haven’t bought a ticket.

The journey continues…

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Book publishing pathways – an explanation

Are you as confused about the different paths to publishing as I am? This guide by Jane Friedman (www.janefriedman.com) is a good start. I must admit that I have seen a number of publishers in Australia describe themselves as “publishing partners” when they really seem to be ‘agent assisted self publishers’. You can download a copy of the chart here: 5 Key Book Publishing Paths

Author Isolation and the Extrovert

girl-1064658_1920People who know me, know that I am quite the extrovert. I’ve previously worked in large organisations, in places with a lot of staff and external clients, with loads of meetings and social contact. I’ve always been one for a conversation, a meal, a drink, a laugh, a party…you get the picture. So how does someone like me manage in such a solitary career as writing?

Like most other writers  I spend the majority of my working week alone. Just me and the computer. Even the extra work I do for money (the stuff I do to prevent myself from starving and being targeted by debt collectors) is a home business/email and internet contact only thing (yes it is typing and writing too). So how do I stop myself from going barking mad (this is of course assuming that I actually have been successful here and don’t just have some delusional belief that this is the case. Woof, ruff, snarl!)

Some suggestions for avoiding becoming a bizarre writing recluse:

  1. Join your local writers organisation. In Australia we have a national body – Australian Society of Authors, and each state has a writers organise like Writers Victoria. Membership is reasonably priced and it offers the opportunity to access industry information and meet other writers.
  2. Take a part time job or casual work. Not only do you have the benefit of a little extra money in the pocket, but you get to interact with other human beings and potential writing subjects. I undertake two three week stints of full time casual work with a University every year just to keep me sane.
  3. Join (or establish) a writers group. Try to meet at least once a month. Its a great way to get your work reviewed, review the work of others, and swap stories (whine) about writing and the industry as a whole.
  4. Arrange to meet up with a friend/family member/colleague at for lunch or dinner at least once a week. It means that you get out of the house, see another human being, and have something to put in that diary of yours.
  5. Make the effort to attend at least one book event a month – be it a launch, a reading, a conference event or a free lecture. Stay involved.
  6. Attend any training courses/programs and events which may be of interest to you. This includes going to any cultural/art/music events. Expand your horizons.
  7. Join up and participate in various on-line author groups. It make take a while to find the one which is a good fit for you (and vice versa) but when you find the right group the rewards are endless.

Of course you may be perfectly happy being on your own! Do what ever feels right for you.

Happy writing.

Sarah