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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

About Rejection...


A fan wrote me the other day asking for advice that I might give to give to an aspiring writer who has a burning desire to write, finishes a novel, queries agents and publishers and faces rejection?

For those with an interest, here's my response:

Rejection hurts. No one likes to feel rebuffed. But rejection is a part of this business, and a very necessary part at that. Who wants to plunk down $16.99 for a book only to have it turn out lousy? Publishers have to reject authors because of inferior quality. They have to reject authors because of the needs of their publishing house. And they have to reject authors because of societal trends...the genre du jour, etc.

So rejection is a fact of the industry. But how you respond is what makes the difference. Some authors use rejection as motivation: "I'll show them I can make it." Others use rejection as an opportunity for revision: "Okay, how can I make my manuscript better?" Still others give up. The last option is no option at all. You give up, you have zero chance of being published. If you have a passion to write or even a God-given calling to write, you MUST not give up. If you do, you'll always wonder. If you do, you'll never have peace. You must musT muST mUST MUST keep trying. But try "smart."

1. Look at the trends. What's hot in
Hollywood? What's selling NOW?
2. Get an agent. Most (95%) of publishers will ignore manuscripts NOT sent by an agent.
3. Put together a team: friends, local English teachers--even professional editors. And have them read your work and critique it.

4. Finally, and in my humble opinion, most importantly: work on your HOOK. By that I mean the first sentence, first paragraph, first page, and first chapter of your manuscript. This is the most important part of the book. You must hook your reader immediately. Editors at publishing houses rarely spend more than a few pages with a manuscript unless it hooks them. You've got 2 minutes of an editor's time. How will you get them to read on? Gradual exposition won't cut it. Think suspense. Arouse curiosity. Draw the reader in from the first line. If you do, you're well on your way to a book deal.

There's my .02 about rejection. What are your thoughts? Authors out did you deal with rejection? Any advice for other writers out there?


Shane Deal said...

I think I shall print that up and tack it on the wall to remind me not to give up when I'm writing.

Shelby Marie said...

I've not faced much rejection yet, but I know it's coming. It happens to everyone. But I refuse to give up. I love writing too much to just forget about it. Thank you, Sir Wayne, for the encouragement and tips.

Sapphira Adi said...

Thanks so much for the great tips. I haven't faced rejection because I'm still working on a book;) Thanks for the encouragement and tips. God Bless.

Sapphira Adi

Anonymous said...

Rejection is a big thing for me. Being a shy person, it's hard for me when I make the effort to say or in this case write something and get the big N.O. I've not had my story ever even looked over by anyone execpt for my sis, mom, and closest friend because of that reason. I know I'll have to go beyond that one day when I have completed the final page and am ready for possible publication, and when I do I'll try to remember that just because the first person says no, that doesn't mean that it's over. I'll just have to stick to it!

Ok, I apologize, really, because I know this has absolutely nothing to do with the topic, but Wayne, I've always wondered two things about the Door Within books...

1.) Does it over say what happens to Oswyn after the Final Storm? I mean, does he make it?

2.)We know where Captain Valithor was laid to rest, but where were Eleazar, Bolt, and Matthais burried? In Mithegard or Alleble?

Once again I'm sorry that these questions have nothing to do with the topic, and that they might be things that you're supposed to assume, but I am the kind of person who has to know the details and I've been meaning to ask. Thanks!

Unknown said...

***Flinn-fan-of-the-Twins***, I am so shy that I have never shown my story to anybody, and I really can't write right now, because I do not have the confidence to back me up! This article though gave me some hope, man I feel like writing right now. Thanks WTB for these great tips!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting that, Wayne....It's really encouraging to know there are people out there who have experienced that kind of rejection, but have thought up ways of going for the goal instead of stopping. I encourage all writers...Go for the Goal! Try your best and go with your best and revise it and make it better. It's the perfect way to succeed.

Bryan Davis said...


As I've mentioned to you before, I received over 200 rejections before a publisher finally decided to take a chance on me. Although I was confused, frustrated, and discouraged, giving up never really occurred to me. I knew I had to do this. I believed in my story with a burning passion. I couldn't give up.

What did I do? I studied the craft and worked hard to make my stories better. I prayed for the right contacts and went to writers' conferences to learn the industry and network with others, gaining contacts and writing hints along the way.

Unless you're already a celebrity or your best friend is the president of a publishing company, there is no replacement for hard work and faithful prayer.

Wayne, you mentioned agents, and you're right, most publishers won't look at manuscripts that are sent unsolicited. But they will look at manuscripts that are sent as the result of contact made at a writers' conference. I strongly recommend attending the conferences that invite publisher representatives. Yes, they can be expensive, but every occupation worth pursuing requires some kind of financial investment. And it's sometimes just as hard to secure a good, reputable agent as it is to get picked up by a publisher.

Bryan Davis

Jeff Draper said...

I strongly suggest wallpapering your desk area with your rejection letters. It is great motivation. If you're not making mistakes, you must not be trying very hard.

Arysta Henry said...

Ooooooooooo, rejection. I remember that. I showed a couple chapters of my first unfinished work to my friend. He critiqued it and said something that I don't remember, the only thing that I remember was that it made me stop writing that story. I still haven't picked it up after around 2-3 years, but I'm thinking of incorporating some of the characters and places into my newer story. All I can say to people that have faced rejection in this area is to never give up, correct your mistakes, make it better and don't ever, Ever do what I did. Choose to carry on and take the critique.