As all authors know, the road to publication is a long and rocky one. Many fall to the way-side, unable to take the rejection, while others carry on, crawling on hands and knees, with their manuscript between their teeth until they find the hallowed publishing deal. Sounds dramatic? Possibly, but ask anyone going for traditional publishing and they will tell you it is tough going.
I’ve been through the mill of submitting my manuscript to a select number of publishers and agents. Receiving rejections can be soul destroying, but it also made me feel like a writer. Remember you are walking a road trodden by best-selling authors. Work hard on your manuscript and edit it to death, but be realistic enough to know it isn’t for everyone. The most important thing now is to believe in your story. Accept it’s going to be tough, and be prepared to take it on the chin. You did not put your heart and soul into this to give up now.
Just Keep Going
We’ve all heard the rags to riches stories of struggling authors that kept going through countless rejections before they became a success. Stephen King is one of my favourite authors, with a fantastic success story. He kept dozens of rejection slips for his novel ‘Carrie’ on a spike, and was told, ‘We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.’ Not only was Carrie a best seller, it launched his career as one of the best-selling authors of all time.
‘To write is human, to edit is divine.’ So yes, keep going, but ensure the work you are presenting is as good as it possibly can be. – Stephen King.
J. K. Rowling
Best selling author J.K. Rowling recently hit the press with the launch of her new novel, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’. Publishers were left red-faced after turning down the novel after it was submitted under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. It was eventually published and the true author’s identity was leaked to the press. It is now a best selling novel, and although the overnight success may be due to it’s famous author, it won critical acclaim long before her identity was revealed.
‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.’ – J. K. Rowling.
Blood, Sweat and Biscuit Crumbs
So you’ve finally made it. After blood, sweat, tears, and endless coffees and biscuit crumbs, your manuscript is complete. So what now? Most people begin by purchasing ‘The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’. I highly recommend this as a good starting point. It’s packed with information and interesting tit-bits. I also recommend both books by Nicola Morgan, ‘Write a Great Synopsis’ and ‘Dear Agent’ which will help you polish your submission. You may find the list of agents and publishers are not as extensive or detailed as you would have hoped, in the Artists yearbook. That’s why I have kept the best until last.
I was very pleased to discover ‘Agent Hunter’ . It has been a real blessing. As I said, I write to a select market, and it has saved me a lot of time being able to narrow down my searches. It’s very easy to navigate, and I can look up publishers, individual agents and agencies. It’s completely current and up to date and gives a little bio on what they are looking for. I’m sure agents are just as pleased about it as we are. We owe it to our fellow writers not to mass submit. It’s because agencies and publishers get so many unsuitable manuscripts that we lose out on their time. I’m happy to submit to several agents at a time, but I always ensure they are relevant submissions. If searching online is not your thing then try The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook, available on Amazon. I also recommend keeping a spreadsheet of your submissions. I colour coded mine, and input the dates and responses.
Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.
– Isaac Asimov
If you have had interest from an agent and have been turned down due to market factors then you always have the option of going indie. Self publishing is a fantastic option and the market has never been better, providing your work is up to scratch. If you have been submitting for yonks and nobody is interested in your writing, then for heavens sake get some constructive feedback and change it! Hiring professionals to help with your work doesn’t have to cost you the earth, and I’ve even been good enough to make my own recommendations here. So good luck whatever you decide to do, and remember you are not alone in your journey.
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Credits: Picture: creative commons. Quotes: Stephen King – On Writing, J.K Rowling. Agent Hunter – www.agenthunter.co.uk
My little disclaimer: I am not connected with any of the companies, books or people listed above. I give this advice freely, so please do with it as you wish. Sorry, I cannot be held responsible if anything goes wrong, or the cat has kittens. You get my drift.