Letting New Writers Down Gently

14 09 2012

adult hand helping child writeAs an editor, I often have the onerous task of writing rejection letters. Many newbie writers dash off their first novels in a few months. Then proud of their efforts, they pop them into envelopes or attach them to emails, positive they will soon have a book contract in hand. And many also expect to quit their day jobs once the book sells.

I sat across the table from one starry-eyed hopeful a few months ago who told me that she was spending all her after-work hours penning her middle grade book. “I can’t keep up this pace forever,” she confided. “It’ll be great once it sells. Then I can quit my teaching job and just write full time.”

If only… I struggled with what to say. Should I tell her the truth and dash her dreams? Or let the shock of rejection letters and the truth of royalty statements (should she be so lucky) knock her down later?

I opted for soft-pedaling the truth. “You know, many writers, even famous ones, needed to keep their day jobs even after they were published.”

She gave me a dubious look, and I could practically read her thoughts, That won’t be me.

I have never understood why people – who would never think they could pick up an instrument, spend a few months practicing, and debut with a symphony orchestra – think that they can sit down and write a best-selling novel.

I think F. Scott Fitzgerald explained things beautifully when he added this to the end of a letter he sent to a beginning writer:

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent—which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

A New Way to View Rejection

11 10 2011

Stacks of lettersYou know those letters you get from publishers that begin with “We regret to inform you…” They end with “not right for our line,” “too many similar projects,” or other stock phrases that let you know this isn’t the publisher for you. Even worse are the preprinted ones without a signature. Many people call them “Rejection Letters.”

Not Sally Stuart. In her Guide to Getting Published, she calls them “Pre-Acceptance Letters.” Isn’t that a much nicer way to look at them?

Pop over to Prairie Chicks

14 08 2010

I’m blogging at Prairie Chicks about overcoming rejection letters. If you’re a new writer who’s getting a slew of rejection letters, I have advice–one big tip that can help new (or even experienced) writers take their work to the next level.

The blog is called:

How Do You Deal with Rejection?

31 08 2009

I’m looking for suggestions from fellow writers on ways they deal with rejection. Post your helpful hints or healing therapies, special potions, or magic formulas at Romance Writers on the Journey for a chance to win prizes.

Here’s the address:

Come on, even those of you who are mega-successes have rejection stories to share. Eating a whole gallon of ice cream? Bawling in the shower? Throwing darts at the editor or agents picture? Pounding a hole in your office wall? Or perhaps something more constructive (unless you’d already been planning to enlarge your office by knocking down a wall).

Calling a supportive crit group member?? Running 10 miles on a treadmill? (Hmm, just think how svelte that would make me.) Spending a session on your psychaitrist’s couch?

One of the crit groups I belonged to rewarded members with a candy bar for every rejection they received, and every year, we had a rejection party and gave out prizes for the cruelest rejection, the nicest rejection, the funniest, etc. And the person who had gotten the most rejection letters won the grand prize. In another group, we ritually burned our rejection letters in a bonfire while chanting, “I am an excellent writer and I deserve to be published.”

Okay, so I admit it. I hang out with wackos. At least I haven’t danced naked under a full moon while chanting curses against editors…yet. Hmmm, think my crit group would go for that one?

So pop on over to Romance Writers on the Journey and share your rejection stories. If you don’t have a solution, then just share your most painful rejection. We’ll all sympathize, which is bound to help.