Sometimes, you get encouragement at just the right time from just the right people.
So I’ve been a little bummed lately. Oh, the milestones have come and still roll in: my first publication, getting representation, being reviewed by some top notch editors. We should all have these problems, right?
But the rejection train isn’t a fun ride. Feedback is great, because if a writer knows what to fix, she (or he) can fix it. Higher word count? Sure thing! More emotional depth and characterization? You got it! Grounding in the setting? Okie dokie!
But what does one do about this?
“The writing is very good but…mermaids are turning out to be a tough sell.”
“We are having a hard time selling the mermaid books, even though this one seems like a lot of fun!”
“I liked the author’s naughty sense of humor…while I enjoyed the insider look at the city, romances set in foreign locales are generally more difficult to sell.”
“While there are some very fun moments…the humor skewed just a bit broad for my tastes.”
“The writing is pretty strong and pacing good, however, I just don’t think it’s a good fit for our list.”
“I really enjoyed this manuscript! The problem is I’m just not sure how we can break this out in a big way.”
Granted, these are very nice rejections from some top notch industry professionals (many of whom asked for a look at future projects), but at the end of the day, they’re still passes. So what to do? Well, one can wallow, or one can keep revising and hoping. I’ve been doing the latter, but it’s still pretty discouraging.
That’s usually a good time to go and commiserate with other authors who’ve endured exactly the same thing, some for longer than I’ve been writing. I had the opportunity to do just that a few days ago. Parnassus Books in Nashville hosted wonderful authors Jenny Milchman and AJ Scudiere in a night of sharing their writers’ journeys. I first met Jenny through the ABNA community and had the pleasure of meeting her in person a few years ago on her cross-country tour of Indie Bookstores. She is an author’s author, dedicated to supporting her fellow writers regardless of their path to publication. Reading her Made It Moments blog series never fails to inspire me. Hearing about her path to traditional publication, which took over ten years, served as a reminder to have hope (and remain patient).
I met AJ last year at Killer Nashville and enjoyed her panel discussions. She also encountered similar challenges and ultimately found success through the small press route. They were both very generous and candid with the pros and cons, the struggles, and the message that there is no right or wrong path to publication – there’s finding the path that’s right for you.
So where does that leave me? Well, I have more work to do, more decisions to make about which projects may be better suited for the indie route and which have a better shot with traditional, but I’m definitely more energized and motivated. I’m fortunate to have the support of two wonderful and hardworking agents and a network of fellow writers and beta readers, and I do have time. I have to remind myself about that last point – it’s not a race.
Thanks also to fellow author friends Jaden Terrell and Teal Haviland for making the evening even more fun and inspiring!