I’ve preached this before but it bears repeating:
Writing is not a walk in the park. Unless that walk involves cold unyielding wind and a bunch of serial killer midget clowns chasing you. For the new aspiring authors out there, no magic number for rejections=finally getting a publication. I repeat, if you’ve gotten a billion-six, go for a billion-six and one. Check this out for a good list of famous authors that were snubbed. It’s humbling.
Learn how to spot whether your rejection letter is a form or personal. This will guide you along your big walk over the Lego Pit of Publishing. Too many form rejections and it’s time to rethink and sniff test your baby for a stinky. We all bow down to the manuscript we’ve written like some golden nugget. Just make sure it’s not really a polished turd in disguise. We are our own worst enemy, much like getting family to beta read your stories, when it comes to glancing over what we’ve created in a maddening tap dance along the keyboard. Take off those rose-colored glasses.
Get thee to a crit group, whether in person or online. Make sure it’s the right fit for you…and that doesn’t mean they melt all their gold down to create some horned image of you and worship the ground you work on. They should be fair and not afraid to kick the crap out of what you’ve made–constructively. Buckle up because it’s a hardcore ride. Don’t forget your clean underwear.
Also, don’t thumb your nose at the small press. A lot of the bigger publishers started out as wee little companies. I can see shying away from a fledgling press–one that’s not been in business for more than a year–but a well established one? We all start somewhere. In fact, the magazine I sold my first story to has since existed activity. They were around for a good bit before they closed up shop. Still, they gave me that first publication. Even the bigger presses go through down trends and nothing is guaranteed. Ever, sans the age old death and taxes.
A publisher never takes your money, by the way. They pay you. Most, if not all, reputable companies offer edits and cover art plus (hopefully) some promotion but don’t think you sit back and wait for the money to explode into your bank account.
You must work like a bitchofabitch. Promotion without saturating the Twitterverse and the like is also your job. Don’t get me started on playing nice with your editors and cover arts. Don’t be a primadonna dickwad.
Getting a novel published is always a healthy goal to have. However, it shouldn’t be your only acorn in the basket. I started out in what I refer to as the old fashioned way. I wrote a whole hoard of short stories and sent my babies out into the world. A lot of them came back tattered and torn, a form rejection tacked to their ink-splattered pages.I’ve only packed away one story and stopped submitting it after a measly ten rejections. Why? Because the feedback was consistent from the publishers. Well-written but it didn’t push the boundaries of the genre (horror). It was a little flash piece so I placed it here on my blog.
So grow a pair and chew on some figurative nails to spit iron. Toughened up. The shark pond is no place for the meek or special little snowflakes and there’s no hard rule that a publisher has to acknowledge you with a glittered-filled answer delivered by a legion of cute slobbering puppies. Be prepared for the ‘thanks but no thanks’ with nothing to say why they didn’t want it. It’s like a job interview. Either they want you or they don’t.