Publishing is both subjective and a business. Some folks get into it with dollar signs in their eyes, sure that the next NYT bestseller is on their fingertips.
Then there are others, like the 9000+ members of Romance Writers of America and untold numbers of Mystery Writers of America, who labor in obscurity, day and night, hoping to break into publishing. Along the way, every writer is sure to get a dreaded "no" from publishing professionals.
What gives writers the courage to go on when they get slammed like this? I'll share a tale of three writers.
G wanted to write category length romances that were tender, full of angst and longing. She was a good writer and had been writing off and on for over a decade. She'd placed in a few contests but the answer from her desired house was still a big fat no. What did she do? She kept refining her stories. She did not give up. When she ran out of options with her contest finalling stories, she wrote more. One of these caught the right editor's eye and she landed a contract. She wrote another book. They hated it. She wrote several proposals. They hated it. Finally, at a RWA National meeting, she sat down with her agent and editor and hashed out what they wanted for her. It was different than what she'd originally thought of writing. Did she stop in the face of this rejection? Nope. She wrote their ideas, but she did it her way. She's now writing 2 books a year for Silhouette. She's happy, and they're happy.
D loved writing historicals. But her time period was out of favor. She got no after no. Did she give up? Nope. She continued researching the time period that interested her. She met with agents and editors at conferences. She pitched and pitched her work. She recycled a few stories, changing the character's names and the book titles. Each time, she rewrote the books she added a bit more of this or that, whatever the publishing professional said had been missing from her earlier attempt. Time passed. A new editor came along at her target house. D subbed to this editor and the woman loved D's writing. Contract. Sales. Another contract. More sales. Now she's getting ready to turn in book 3. And she's got more books in her back pocket.
These ladies were lucky that their books fit existing genres. I wasn't so lucky. My romances end up with too much mystery, my mysteries have a bit too much romance for mystery purists. I ran into dead ends with my work too, for over ten years. That was ten long years, by the way, ten years of squeaking out stories during cheerleading practice and basketball games. Ten years of watching others having their number rise to the top of the bingo machine. That was hard. I could have given up. That would have been easy. But I wanted the dream of being a writer. I wasn't afraid of hard work. Eventually I landed three publishing houses and many book editors. I've learned from all of them.
Rejection is something writers face routinely. Something that builds character or breaks it down. It doesn't get any easier once you get published. Rejections still come along in the guise of bad reviews or crazy fans or the lady down the street who doesn't want to talk to you because you write smut.
A rejection is "notta" rejection when it makes you dig down and bring something more to the table.
ON THE NICKEL and MUDDY WATERS - under contract!