So, you’ve written your novel and printed it out and it’s been through twenty seven drafts, and nothing, not a single word, is out of place. It’s been honed and crafted over the past two years, and your family and friends are asking the unanswerable question: so, when’s it going to be published?
Of course you can’t answer that yet, because you haven’t even sent it out. And even as you peel off the sticky stuff to seal the big padded envelope that will carry your novel to its destination, you can feel, bubbling under the surface of desperate hope and anticipation, a black cauldron of fear beginning to simmer: the fear of rejection. What if the publisher (who may have even requested to see the manuscript after reading an initial few chapters), rejects you?
After twenty-two years in the industry, and 38 books published by both big publishers and small independent presses alike, I can say with some certainty that being a novelist means in fact, to be in the business of rejection. Mostly. And that takes guts, or hide, or tenacity. And a certain amount of skill: we have to be able to discern things like, after ten rejections, is there a problem with the book, or a problem with the publishers, (perhaps I’m sending to big houses that are only accepting unsolicited manuscripts in very specific genres and I’ve mis-sent my book), or out of all the rejections, it’s clear not a single person has actually read my manuscript, or maybe the book really does fall flat and isn’t living up to what it needs to be. Here are a few tips to help minimise the number of rejections, and dealing with them when they come.
To Minimise the Sheer Number of ‘Dear Author, Unfortunately…’ letters:
1) Choose publishers very carefully. Look at exactly what they publish and make sure it’s as close to a perfect match as possible.
2) Make sure your query letter specifically addresses why this particular publisher may find your book a good fit, and why you want to publish with them.
3) Dream big, but don’t pass up the opportunity of working with a small or mid-sized press. They often offer unparalleled dedication and commitment to making a success out of a book.
4) Submit to several publishers at once if you can find them. (Many publishers don’t want simultaneous submissions, but if you send out a novel to one place at a time, you may be 144 years old before your work is accepted). I’ve had thousands of rejections, and 38 acceptances and I’ve never had two publishers say yes to the same book at the same time!
Dealing with Rejection:
1) Open a folder (either on your computer or in your paper filing cabinet) under ‘R’ for ‘rejections.’ Start your collection.
2) If there is anything more than ‘Dear Author, thanks but no thanks’ in the rejection letter, get over the disappointment of not being discovered as the next JK Rowling, and then be happy that someone thinks your work is worthy of a response! Read over the reasons for the rejection. Decide whether there are some points that seem helpful and/or true, which you could use to make your work better or more appropriate. Decide whether you have written something that you believe in, or whether this is best regarded as a practise run.
3) Finally, sometimes getting published is a matter of believing in what you’ve written so much, that you’re willing to wait twelve years through one hundred and eighteen rejection slips before you find someone who believes in your work. (Been there, done that!) Sometimes the only way to deal with rejection is to send your work out to another ten places so that it’s always out there.
The difference between someone who gets published and someone who doesn’t, is sometimes simply persistence! Good luck out there.
Lucy Wright, sixteen and a paraplegic after a recent car accident that took her mother’s life, lives in Queensland on a 10,000 acre farm with her father. When Lucy investigates strange lights over the creek at the bottom of the property, she discovers a mystery that links the lights to the science of cymatics and Scotland’s ancient Rosslyn Chapel.
But beyond the chapel is an even larger mystery. One that links the music the chapel contains to Norway’s mysterious Hessdalen lights, and beyond that to Saturn and to the stars. Lucy’s discoveries catapult her into a parallel universe connected to our own by means of resonance and sound, where a newly emerging world trembles on the edge of disaster. As realities divide, her mission in this new world is revealed and she finds herself part of a love story that will span the galaxy.
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Genre - Young Adult SF
Rating - PG
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