Wednesday, May 31, 2017

All the more reason to have a dedicated writer email

A friend of mine mentioned what she called "coping skills" in a recent email to me. I'd never thought about that idea before, but it instantly rang true.  Coping skills come from experience of course, which means that if you don't have experience with something it's harder to cope skillfully.

As it happened, I was replying to writers about requested fulls just about the same time I read my friend's email.

And of course:

Wile E Coyote and I have a bright idea

Getting a lot of rejection on your work is a part of the publishing process. Every writer endures it. You will not be the exception to the rule. You will NEVER stop getting rejections.

That doesn't make rejection any easier to deal with, but after a couple hundred of them, your coping skills are going to improve (a bottle of bourbon and watching Jaws to see the shark get blown up is a good start.)

At the START of your career though, those coping skills aren't as honed. And rejections tend to arrive, in the way of all bad news, at the worst possible time. And you take them more personally, which means it takes longer to regain your equilibrium.

So, here's an idea:

If you query from a dedicated author email that you do not use for anything else, you don't have to check the email if you know you're not feeling up to it.

There are a lot of other good reasons to have a dedicated email address: you won't include agents on some kind of send-all with your holiday cards; you won't spam agents if your regular email address gets hacked (this happens a LOT); you won't need to engage an away message when you're on your holiday in the Swiss Alps and I am at home reading your manuscript.

But mostly, the idea of managing the circumstances when you hear back from agents is a good idea. It gives you more control than if the email just shows up on your birthday, or Christmas, or any of a hundred other days you really didn't want to hear this.

Having an email you can turn off or ignore without losing contacts with the other parts of your life seems a pretty good idea for coping with this crazy industry.

What other tricks have you developed for coping with the query process?

63 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

It is impossible to hit the ball every time you swing. The solution, stay in the game. Eventually, if you practice, train, listen and learn, you will hear the crack of the bat.

After thirty years of doing this, there are no tricks, rejection, is rejection, is rejection. It is as much a part of the game as sitting on the bench or time on crutches.
Popcorn and hotdogs and sitting in the stands watching just get you frustrated and fat.
Suiting up every day, and I mean every single day, helps.
Oh wait, I do have a trick, asbestos underpants.

kathy joyce said...

I copy each rejection from my email into a Word document and periodically make word clouds. They're fun to redesign into different shapes and colors. Plus, the biggest words usually come out as: thank, you, Kathy. It takes my mind off the rejection, and reminders about gratitude never hurt.

Robert Ceres said...

Kathy I've dropped sections of my writing into word clouds to make me happy, but your idea is even better.

Amy Schaefer said...

If I'm having an off day, I turn the internet off altogether. I can't imagine having a little "1" pop up in my dedicated email and not checking it. But that's just me.

I prefer to skim rejections. When I received replies to my query letter, I would glance through the response just enough to determine a) yes or no, and b) is there actual feedback. Unless it was a request or contained real comment on the MS, I would translate it to a simple "no" in my head, mark off my spreadsheet and move on. It wasn't always painless, but it was better than agonizing.

Colin Smith said...

To date, all the responses I've had to my short story submissions have been rejections. However, two of those rejections were personalized, and essentially said "you're a good writer, I enjoyed the story, just not right for the mag." Those two responses really help me cope with rejection. Two separate editors reminding me that it's not my ability that's the problem. That means a lot as I send the next submission, and face another blank Word document... :)

How about in addition to your regular querying email address, you have a "nice response" address. In the query you would instruct the agent: "Hit reply for a form rejection. If you are giving a personal response, or requesting, please send your response to: niceresponse@myemail.com." ;)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ya know…my earlier comment sounds so hard-ass, so resolute, so firm. Frankly I never thought of rejection as anything more than, “yes that outfit makes you look fat, change it.” So I do, until it’s either out of style or I am helplessly lost in my closet.
Isn’t rejection simply a part of learning?

KATHY and ROBERT, there are no word clouds for, “no reply means no.” Those are the ones which leave a hole in my determination. They piss me off actually.

Donnaeve said...

I don't have any tricks, and like Amy S above, I can't imagine I wouldn't check a dedicated email with that bolded sitting there.

When I talk about publishing, I tell a story about how the offer came in - meaning I had an email from my agent - but I didn't know that's what it was. I thought it was another rejection. So, I went about my business for two hours or more, (cleaning the house), and refused to open it up until I was done. Time tends to do that, meaning I'd spent sufficient time being on submission, and writing new stories.

The longer you're in this, the more you find you can handle.

Karen McCoy Books said...

A separate email for submissions/rejections is an excellent idea. I've already built one, and it's also an email I use for other professional contacts, which changes the overall tone. "Professional Correspondence" rather than "Rejection Central."

For the querying process, it's helpful to remember that you want to find the best agent for your work. One of my recent rejections said, "I'm not the best agent for this," and it was oddly comforting.

If your rejection is a bit more brutal, remember that the art is in the recovery. As an example, I try to use rejections as a cue to improve my craft (once I give myself the requisite grieving time, usually about a day or so).

Reading for others' ideas. I love this blog community.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"The longer you're in this, the more you find you can handle."

DONNA yes. Perfect.

And, because this is my third comment I will depart for my 9 to 5 which is a hell of a lot more depressing than rejection.

Karen McCoy said...

What a great story, Donna! I might employ this method too. Hopefully I'll gain the restraint.

Donnaeve said...

Well, HTML didn't like how I was trying to insert a bolded 1 in my comment above and completely ignored it. The comment equivalent of a NORMAN.

It rejected it.

How apropos for today's topic.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I have callouses on my callouses from all the crap life has thrown out me. No, I don't like rejection but now it's a deep sigh and a shot of whiskey instead of the gnashing of teeth and grinding of bones it once had been.

Like Colin the positive personalized rejections have helped me keep on. And then there's the Reef. Nothing like that bigger boat for commiserating with others. After all, as writers, we are all hurling ourselves into the path of rejection on purpose. We best find a way to cope.

MA Hudson said...

Donna - for a second I was scrolling back to see who this HTML was and why they were so judgey about your bolded '1'. LOL

I have a dedicated author email but I haven't started querying yet. I reckon I'll be jumping on each and every email that hits that inbox. At least, I'll probably do that the first hundred rejections. After that, I'll probably employ Janet's technique of only checking when I'm in the right mood.

Theresa said...

Another great piece of advice. Having a separate email account for the business of writing would serve several important purposes.

And as Donna said, "The longer you're in this, the more you find you can handle."

Sometimes that means that wherever an email message comes it, you wait for the right time to read it and for the right time to respond to it.

I have to admit I don't know what word clouds are, but they sound nice.

Kitty said...

2Ns Ummm, "asbestos underpants"? You got me laughing with that one!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I've saved a personalized rejection (from a short story contest) as it encouraged me to try again. Generally, I've been good with separating critique of me as a person from critique of my writing skills or story structure. Will that help in the future when I query my WiP? Time will tell. And this Reef is a good place to find coping mechanisms.

Amy Johnson said...

Oh, Janet, you benevolent queen. "You will not be the exception to the rule. You will NEVER stop getting rejections." From someone else, that might sound not nice. But from you, it's so wisdomy. :)

I find it helpful to sometimes remind myself why I'm doing what I'm doing. Oh no--visions of those old SNL daily affirmations skits. It's not like that.

Also, reminding myself (can someone really remind oneself?) of encouraging things people have said about my writing. Some of those people being reefers. (OMGosh! Am I the last one to get the "reefer" joke?)

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I'm gonna try Kathy's idea.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Currently my reaction to rejects is a look of bafflement. I simply cannot understand how the agent completely missed the brilliance I sent them several months ago.

Sherry Howard said...

It's a marathon, not a sprint. First you want an agent, then a publishing deal, then a book in your hands, then the next book. When you're not writing, you're research marketing. The more balls you keep juggling, the less you'll miss that yellow one you dropped.

Maggie Maxwell said...

Laugh. Find a way to laugh. Watch a comedy or Jaws blowing up or Looney Tunes beating each other up with nonsensical weaponry or whatever tickles your gigglebox. Associate the difficult rejections with levity, and you'll barely remember the R. The very day I got my first rejection, I went to a book signing by one of my favorite comedic writers (the jesterific Christopher Moore) and, at the signing, expressed my baby newbie rejection woes with a "What do I do now?". He took it over the top with grand gestures and gagging death sounds. And then, when I was laughing, he told me to keep writing. Both were exactly what I needed to hear, and now I don't remember the sting of the rejection. I remember Mr. Moore and the laughter. And I took his advice, too.

mythical one-eyed peace officer said...

Early on, a dozen years ago or more when I began submitting my creative nonfiction/memoir pieces, a submission to a professional journal's writing contest was accepted. Exciting for a newbie! The editor rewrote it so severely that the story no longer sounded like me telling it so I just withdrew it.
A couple of years later I noticed the editor had been replaced so I again submitted to the yearly contest confident that it would be accepted and hopeful it would not be edited to hell.
Surprise! It was rejected.
Then the next year a new editor was in place and phoned me out of the blue to ask if she could run my piece as she had just arrived and needed stuff for the next issue. "Sure, as long as you don't change it much."
So it ran in the publication, they paid me twice what I was originally supposed to get.
And the lesson I learned that allows me to accept the zillions of rejections I get. You never know what somebody will like. So I continue to write for pleasure and if nobody wants it, well, that's just the way it is.

Jessica said...

I'm just starting, so I definitely feel the sting of rejection still. I've only sent out 15 queries. I got a rejection on a full and it's ruined my week. The agent had lovely, personalized feedback and she was super nice, but she said my story was a bit too predictable. That's all I've been able to think about for days haha. You always agonize over the negative, even though the positive things are presented at the same time.

Megan V said...

I don't agree that having a separate e-mail account is necessarily useful for coping skills. Although I do have a separate email for writerly things, I utilize it for many of the other reasons mentioned here.

The thing is, having a separate e-mail can make things a lot worse.

You get an email ping at that address and you know it can't be coming from anywhere but an agent.

Your gut churns. You're already shooting yourself in the foot for being so naive to think that anyone would ever request your work.

You try to forget about that email. Spend the day trying to forget. But you can't. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the one! Maybe you'll get that request!

So you open it.

And then your worst fears are confirmed.

Form rejection.

Happy Birthday to you.


That said, a writerly email is still a good thing to have. And if it works to help some people cope, well that's all to the good.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Unfortunately, a separate address dedicated to querying/business wouldn't prevent me from checking it. I fear the opposite would occur. Although I can see how myname @ gmail.com would be more professional than querying from the sanctuary email (and I can go days without checking that one).

My earlier writing life didn't prepare me for rejections. After completing a collection of true stories about our horses, my ms was accepted by the first publisher I queried - a small but reputable indy house. They also wanted a second and then third set of stories. With three nonfiction books under my belt, silly me, who frolics through life, thought, "This writing stuff is pretty darn easy...Let's try fiction!" Did you just hear the screech of brakes?

In 2015 I completed a 100K word ms, women's fiction, then headed down the query trail. I may have even been skipping and singing "tra-la, tra-la." Fifty plus rejections later, I stuffed that ms in a cyber-drawer. Then I completed a 90K word mystery in 2016. Queried. Aaand, it's currently collecting dust next to the WF. I recently wrote a middle grade about horses, truer to my roots. I feel good about it, but we shall see.

Because everything fell into place in my nonfiction life with relative ease, I wasn't prepared for the reality of fiction. I was extremely naive and got a harsh slap in the face. But I'm the sort of person who views getting knocked down as a reason to get back up. Continuing to learn, grow, get better is uplifting. Onward!

RosannaM said...

The whole topic of coping skills and becoming a resilient person is fascinating. I think learning how to cope comes from having experienced a lot of hard things and making it through to the other side. And, while it would have been easier to have someone step in and do the hard thing for you, you would have forfeited the opportunity to develop those new life skills.

It is the same with this business. Rejection might feel like darts being thrown at you, but soon you will feel like you're wearing an old leather jacket, (or the asbestos underpants of 2NN's-although why anyone would throw query darts at you there...) instead of being the balloon.

Claire Bobrow said...

I like Amy Johnson's new word, "wisdomy."

When I start querying in earnest this summer and the rejections come rolling in, I hope I can be "wisdomy" about it. Kathy's word cloud idea sounds cool. Or maybe I'll just clean the house, like Donna!

kathy joyce said...

Theresa, Google "word cloud" and pick an option. Paste a chunk of text into the box and press "go." The app counts each word that appears in the text and how often. It returns a "cloud" of words that vary in size based on how frequently they occurred in the original text. Different apps let you design the clouds different ways. You can change font, color, background, and shape of the cloud. Try it, it's a nice diversion!

Amy, Reefers! I'll never think the same of this group again. Ha!

kathy joyce said...

Claire and Donna, Oooh! I could tell people I only clean when I get rejected. Everyone would think I'm not a bad housekeeper, just a great writer! Thanks!

Beth Carpenter said...

While I like the idea in theory, I know myself. If I had one hundred different email addresses, I would still be checking each one several times a day. After all, that query response could be the best birthday present I could possibly imagine.

Gigi said...

I haven't started querying yet, but when it comes to rejections in other spaces (for instance: of story pitches sent to magazines or even personal connections or cold emails about copywriting gigs), it actually helps me to make a list of the reasons unrelated to me and my work that they might have rejected. Unless someone tells me a specific reason, I just remind myself that they probably *insert totally not-about-me-at-all reason here*.

For instance: they probably already have a pitch that's too similar. Not about me. Maybe they aren't interested in the premise. Not about me. Maybe it's not the right fit for their agency. Not about me.

Claire Bobrow said...

kathy joyce: I fear my house will be spotless, haha!

Donnaeve said...

MA, good one - we could have fun applying a personality to HTML.

Words of the day: "wisdomy" and "judgey."

Words of wisdom...(wisdomy?) Wear asbestos underpants while cleaning house. That'll offer you double protection + knowing it WILL happen does help.

Kathy - HA! But, I say here's to you and everyone else never having to clean the house!

Otherwise, let the rejections be minimal or filled w/encouraging words.

And one other note on that rejection thing. People, meaning readers, are going to reject your work once published. The other day I mentioned a "rough" event. And it was. It was a book club with two particular members who took issue with my work. To say they stifled the atmosphere is an understatement. There was a tone of hostility.

So. Like Janet said, "You will NEVER stop getting rejections."

That ought to be tattooed on every writer's brain. Or wherever you want.

Barbara said...

My trick for dealing with rejection is to look at it as a good thing. Getting rejected is a sign that I 'm doing my job. If I'm not getting rejections, it means I'm not submitting enough.

There is a trick I haven't tried yet. It's a way to submit and never get a rejection. Only submit to agents/editors whose policy is to not reply unless they want what you offered. It's limiting, but I'll never have to deal with bad news.

Colin Smith said...

Jessica: OK. Deep breath. First, you got a personalized response. That's the exception, not the rule. Agents don't do this unless they feel somehow compelled to. Perhaps Supernice Agent gave away her reason in her nice comments. Whatever the case, as Janet has said more than once, agents don't compliment just to be nice. Take Supernice Agent's nice words as sincere, and enjoy them.

As for the negative, try to be objective. Is Supernice Agent correct? Do you see SNA's point? If you agree, then your work is to fix the problem. However, if you and your beta readers/critique group don't agree, then you are free to ignore SNA's criticism.

But reflect on the fact you got a personalized response, which is second only to getting a request. That really is awesome. Congratulations!

All the best with the rest of your querying journey. :D

BJ Muntain said...

I've been querying and submitting short stories to markets for quite awhile now. Yes, I've developed some coping skills, some of which are more useful than others. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

1) The first coping skill I developed - and I decided to do this from the very beginning - is to consider a rejection to be a good thing: proof that I was brave enough to put myself out there. I've gathered a lot of these proofs over time. I must be a very brave person. :)

2) Keeping a spreadsheet with all my past and future markets/agents listed, with their information and responses. Sometimes just updating the spreadsheet with the response can make the whole exchange feel more like what it is - a business transaction - than something personal.

3) I share the good rejections with writer friends. The last really good rejection I got said my novel was 'pacey and cinematic' and that I wrote very well. Although I was disappointed (of course I was. You never quite get over the disappointment.) a note like this can help to boost your mood a bit. I shared this with my critique partners and close friends - NOT in public.

4) Chocolate. Chocolate helps me to query, and it helps me deal with rejection. Chocolate is a good all-round coping mechanism.

Barbara Etlin said...

I made a collage of the encouraging words in personal rejections, the part that comes before, "But, unfortunately..."

"charming"
"funny"
"a hoot"
"you're a talented writer"

etc. and kept it on my desk.


And here's a funny rejection story. I sent some poems to a magazine and eventually received a small piece of paper with the magazine's logo and a typed, "Not quite." And a squiggly mark beside it. I thought it might have been a very messy signature and didn't pay attention to it. A year later, I was cleaning my office and came across the rejection. For some reason I turned it over and found this on the back side: "Romantic" came close. Try again!"

John Davis Frain said...

I assumed everyone used a dart board. Good to know there's other methods.

Beth Carpenter said...

Oh, Donna, that is rough. Rejection in person is even harder than in black and white. Hugs to you and everyone facing rejection today.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Dart boards are the best! Combined with adult beverages though - well, budget for repairs.

Lennon Faris said...

Wait, does anyone watch Jaws to see the SHARK bite the dust? Think I'll just move right along here...

I have a separate email account. I keep it open in a tab all the time so that I can see when that little "(1)" appears. BUT I don't have access to it on my phone, so I can't obsess. Like Amy Schaefer, I've learned to skim the email. If it's a NO, I close out and try not to re-read it ever (sometimes I have masochistic tendencies). I've thought about deleting them, but haven't gone that far yet.

Jessica - what I hear from your comment is that you just started querying, already had a request for a full, AND got a personalized response to it. Sting or not, that's super impressive. Keep going!









BJ Muntain said...

Regarding the dedicated writer's e-mail: I have one, but I use it for more than rejections - I use it for anything writerly, like notices about blogs I follow (this one, TKZ, others); for communication with other writers; for authors' and agents' and other writing-related newsletters; for notifications from my writing-related Twitter accounts; and much more. So perhaps mine doesn't serve the same purpose as Janet's suggestion. Also, I have both my regular accounts (personal and writing-related) pushed through to my Gmail account, so I can easily read my e-mails on my tablet through the Gmail account.

Donnaeve and MA: Regarding HTML's personality... HTML is a perfectionist a$$hole and stubborn about it. Luckily, I understand perfectionism (I'm a recovering perfectionist, myself - not sure about the a$$hole part) and I'm able to read through it to see what's wrong.

Kathy JOYCE: I love that idea! I've never really used word clouds much, but this makes rejection sounds beautiful!

Jessica: My advice is to try to forget it for awhile. Let it simmer on the back burner (or percolate, as I usually call it). Once you've successfully 'forgotten' it, you might get an idea. Or you might go back to it and be able to see what she's saying. Note that there is a difference between predictability and reader expectations. An ending might be somewhat predictable from the beginning - you're setting up reader expectations there so you need to fulfill them in some way - but how you get to that ending needs to be less predictable - and the ending itself might be something of a surprise. (If you don't fulfill reader expectations in some way, by addressing what you bring up at the beginning somehow, you'll disappoint them. And a disappointed reader won't read your next book.)

stacy said...

When I started in educational publishing as an editorial assistant at a small vendor, I was as green as green could be. I got promoted to assistant editor and got a pretty cool writing assignment--to write a book about the desert.

Did I say I was green?

I wrote the whole thing rather than a sample chapter and sent it to my boss. (She didn't realize I didn't know I was only supposed to write a chapter or two, and it wasn't something I knew to ask. One of those "you can't ask what you don't know to ask" situations.)

She liked it, but I had "draught" for "drought" in there somewhere. She pointed it out, and I basically hid under my desk in my office for an hour. Eventually, the book was rejected by our clients (publishers). Good, but not good enough, apparently. That hurt.

But not for long. I had other writing assignments, and over time I slowly began to see that edits and suggestions were not personal--they couldn't be. Who had time? We were a small staff and we all wore many hats. My biggest strategy for dealing with criticism--if not outright rejection--was to stay busy. If something wasn't working, I worked on something else.

I think that's why I like to both write and paint. Maybe I'll never be a professional painter, but it gives me something constructive to do that I enjoy and takes my mind off any bad stuff. We all need that, or we'll burn out.

And hey, I just realized something. I wrote a book.

stacy said...

Also, I have created a separate email address for submissions, and yep, it works. Out of sight, out of mind. I do remember to check it every few days.

Jessica said...

Thank you all for your advice!! I'm going to put the book away for a while and ruminate on what she said. None of my beta readers ever said it was predictable, but the next time I revise I'll include that question in my beta reader questions. This is way harder than I thought it would be!! You're all inspiration to me :)

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

A short while ago I found a book of natural history essays on the web. I bought it and I think it's wonderful. A woman had written the pieces over time and when she passed away her daughter put the book together. It is published by a small non-profit in my home area.

The point is, you never know how your hard work is going to reach someone, someday, who really appreciates it.

Donnaeve said...

Thank you, Beth! Yes, it suckethed all the way home. (and I drove an hour to boot just to get there.) What I couldn't understand was why they showed up if the hated it, but I suppose you can guess.

I think I'll employ John (MS) Frain's methodology. Darts! Which brings to mind a story.

OT: When I was eight, and my brother was ten, we were playing darts in our neighbor's basement.

As he was retrieving his off the board and the floor, he said, "Don't throw it yet!"
He bent over to pick on eup.
I said, "Oh I ain't gonna miss!"
I threw and missed - the board, while the dart acted like it had some sort of sonar on it. It went through the air in this perfectly curved arc, up, over, and down and stuck, right in his butt. He jerked upright, mouth and eyes wide as they could go.
He said, "I told you not to throw it!"
I covered my mouth and laughed.
He ran home.
I got in BIG trouble.



Craig F said...

I have a gmail account that I use for writerly stuff. I also have been stuck with Windows 10 and it's mail system. That mail lists all of my seven accounts so I can't really stay away when I am not in the rejection mood.

At the moment I have enough anxiety with deciding I am worthy to query. Soon I will have to deal with that because I have people calling daily that want to buy some of my works.

Oh, well, I have a twelve gauge, a couple of boxes of bird shot and a bullet trap. I can blow off the anxiety of rejection by seeing how many pieces I can blast them into.

julieweathers said...

I'm babysitting as mini mini me is sick today. Therefore, I have no access to my lolcat collection. I've been dealing with the rejection thing so long it normally doesn't bother me much. Big Time Agent who had the full on Far Rider for a long time and rejected with extensive comments did as I felt hopeful about him for some reason.

I have a collection of music and movie clips I listen to that either perks me up, inspires me to write, or allows me to wallow depending on what I need. Sometimes you just need to lie on the grave and pour out your heart. Lately I've been watching the clip from the Alamo where Travis tells his men no help is coming for inspiration to keep writing. Don't ask, no idea why that depressing scene would inspire anything aside from the fact I'm in a depressing section of the story.

I'm setting up a separate email that I will use when I start querying again. I've been trying to get rid of some email accounts I have scattered around to keep up with things easier.

When I start feeling sorry for myself I think of a story about some ladies in a concentration camp who used to, in their severe starvation, used to share favorite recipes and talk of happier times with family gathered around happy feasts. I am not sharing recipes in the throes of starvation.

Count my blessings.

One morning in Iraq, Will, my youngest son, started out his day picking up body parts of five men who spent the night planting IEDs in the road his convoy was supposed to take that morning. After that for a long time I'd ask how he's doing and he'd respond, "I didn't start out the day picking up body parts, so it's going to be a good day."

I didn't start out my day picking up body parts.

Count my blessings.

For a long time I kept a full bottle of sleeping pills just in case I every felt I just couldn't cope any more.

It's still full.

Count my blessings.

AS person has to go into this with their eyes open. Rejection is part of the process. Find a support group. Realize there are going to be days when you don't think you're a writer, when you'll be rejected, when it all seems like an uphill battle (it is), when you wonder why you even try. Rejection is part of the journey. Dejection is a choice.

The joy of creation, creating something you alone can envision, is also part of the journey. It's worth fighting for.

Never give up.

Susan said...

I learned something about myself this year. Actually, I've learned a lot of somethings, but this is a lesson that has actually stuck with me: resilience. I think it's because I've had to learn those coping skills that my resilience--and my resolve--has strengthened.

Now I'm not afraid to ask for what I need--or what I want (which is huge for me). And while I've heard the word "no" a thousand times, I don't view it as a door slamming shut but rather as an opportunity to reevaluate it. Is it actually good for me? Is it really what I want? If no, I move on (after shedding a few tears or hugging a few puppies). If yes, well...

There's no faster way to get me to work hard at something I believe in than to tell me no. I guess I just like to prove people wrong about myself. I'm also stubborn enough that I like to forge my own path. Like with rejections. When I didn't get into the one and only grad school I applied to years ago, I realized it was a blessing because it wasn't what I really wanted. I started my own business instead. When I received rejections for my book, I decided to go the indie route. I don't know what's next, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be hearing a lot of "no's," and my stubborn little heart is going to say, "watch me."

There's more than one path in life. There's more than one path in publishing. Maybe rejection is just the roadmap towards another opportunity.

Like Julie just said: Never ever give up.

Susan said...

Maggie I love Christopher Moore! That's an amazing story, and what a great memory. At least you can look back on your first rejection with something memorable and positive. I love that advice--counter every negative with something positive and fun.

Steve Stubbs said...

Colin Smith said...

"To date, all the responses I've had to my short story submissions have been rejections."

Which makes me think of an Irish writer from a century ago. As I recall, he tried his hand as a novelist, and all the big houses in New York and London he sent his MSS to told him in effect, "don't quit your day job."

So he tried something else. He wrote plays instead. His name was George Bernard Shaw.

Sometimes when something does not work, it is time to try something else. I don't know what your genre is, but you might find fame and fortune writing novels.

They are completely different from short stories. They take 1-2 years to write and they pay a lot more money if they are accepted.

They are better than screenplays, teleplays, and stage plays, though. Those markets are damn hard to crack.

Colin Smith said...

Steve: Thanks for the well-intentioned encouragement. I have already written a few novels, two of which I've taken through the query trenches (obviously to no avail). I've been on a break from my WiP for the past year writing short stories to see if I can get some publishing credit, and maybe some kind of affirmation from the publishing industry that I am actually capable of writing something publishable. I fully intend to get back into novel writing soon. I'd still like to tackle editing the 300K word monster I wrote about 10 years ago. I had a great time with it, but it needs work. Anyway, suffice to say, I'm happy to plug away with the short stories for now. Besides, they're fun to write. :)

John Davis Frain said...

Colin,
I get it that I'm not the affirmation you're speaking of, but indulge me in one quick point.

I've read a lot in your genre lately. And I've read a fair amount of you right here at the Reef. You have some damn good writing that I've seen. Just like agents who don't toss around compliments, a lot of people here don't just toss them around -- and you've heard a lot about all the talent here. That's not just blather, that's true. You fit right in with that talent. Sometimes you're at the top, sometimes you fall short.

But it tells me you have the chops. Now it's just a matter of finding the right editor with the right story. I like your strategy of hitting the short story market. The worst thing that can happen is you don't make a sale, but you get better at your craft. That's an easy tradeoff.

Keep writing. Perseverance is the best card you can hold in this game. Along with darts. Always make sure you have darts nearby.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Colin, What John said... But I'll add a yummy dark beer to the list of things to always have on hand.

kdjames.com said...

So far, my trick for coping with the query process is to avoid it completely. Hey, it's working so far! No stress! *sigh* I swear, if I ever get an agent and a trad publishing deal, it will be in spite of my efforts, not because of them. If there's a way to do things bass-ackwards, I'll find it.

I love the idea of a word cloud of the personalized rejections. Sounds like a great way to focus on the good things said, rather than getting stuck on just the negative. I think my focus is, maybe, slightly different. My end goal is to find readers. Obtaining an agent and finding a publisher are steps in the process, sure. Well, one process. But getting "rejected" along the way isn't going to stop me from achieving the final goal.

Also, Colin, ditto what John said.


Colin Smith said...

John, Melanie, kd: Thanks, guys. I don't take lightly the compliments offered here, and I receive them as sincerely as they are offered. I would like that special affirmation that comes from an editor actually handing over cold hard cash for my stories, but y'all's encouragement goes a long way to help keep me going while I write-submit-wait-repeat... :)

Joseph Snoe said...

Rejections to date haven’t bothered me. I only need one acceptance. That was my attitude looking for employment positions. That was my attitude placing law review articles. That was my attitude finding publishers for my two law books.

As Melanie Sure Bowles noted, finding an agent for a novel is a more difficult challenge. The dozen or so rejections I got on my first draft didn’t bother me (one sort of did since I really liked the agent).

But I’ve spent nearly a year and a half revising and, I hope, improving my novel. And more people know I’m doing this and keep telling me they want to read my book. Consequently, I fear too many rejections this time might send me into a panic stage.

But then again, I only need one acceptance.

And I like the separate email idea. Now if I can think of a suitable address. Maybe I.am.sensitive@aol.com or DoNotRejectMePlease@gmail.com.

Julie Weathers said...

I'll second the yummy beer. Shiner Bock for me. Sometimes we feel like we're just going in circles, and we are.

There is a wealth of talent here. I full well expect to see many of these names on the covers of books one day.

The best way of coping really is to maintain friends amongst those who understand the journey and will lift you up when the steps grow weary.

Gigi said...

@Jessica - I actually just sent mine out to betas again and in three spots in the book I inserted a blank page to ask them "what do you think is going to happen next?" (alongside a couple other questions). I'm hoping to get a sense for whether I'm giving too much away or being overly predictable - so perhaps something like that would help you with your next beta round.

Congrats on the request and as others have said, keep going!

sophistikitty said...

So far, I've only had one rejection that actually got to me - largely because I was aware that my book is almost completely unsellable, so rejection was generally fair enough - when the agent gave a more personalised rejection and didn't in any way mince his words. And then my mother went and agreed with him!

But then even he had some nice things to say, so I focused on those, deleted the email so I wasn't tempted to read it over and over, sulked for a little while, and moved on. The other rejections have all either been form rejections or personalised with some positive comments and the fact that they didn't think they (or possibly anyone) could sell it. As long as I'm not being told I'm an idiot to think I could be a writer, I can stay happy.

BJ Muntain said...

sophistikitty: You're braver than I am. I don't let my mother read anything I've written, and she's okay with that, because she doesn't read science fiction. Although, when I did a Twitter experiment with a short story that I also posted onto my Facebook page, she read it. It was over a period of three weeks, and one day she posted on Facebook, "I don't normally read this sort of thing, but you have me on the edge of my seat." And if I was prone to panic attacks, I would have had one then. It was nice and all, but MUM READ MY STUFF. EEEK!

sophistikitty said...

BJ Muntain: My anxieties about people reading my writing are a bit inconsistent. My mother actually took forever to get round to reading it - her comment was made when she was only a chapter in - and once she finally read the entire thing she was much more admiring. She's quite a good reader though; very objective, and clearly not too concerned about hurting my feelings with crtiticism!