Monday, February 8, 2010

Notta Rejection

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.

Maggie Toussaint
ON THE NICKEL and MUDDY WATERS - under contract!
www.maggietoussaint.com

26 comments:

Diana Cosby said...

Maggie,
So true, we need to keep in mind the subjectivity of publishing as well as an available slot, plus, remembering that solid writing is exactly that. It's a combination of all three with a toss of perseverance that is the key.
Also, once you publish, now you sprinkle on promotion, which I look at as the opportunity to meet with readers and other writers, which is always an amazing blessing. :)
To me, dreams are visions of what we can become. Never doubt your dreams, but forge ahead with confidence and follow your heart. Thanks for the fun blog!
^5

Diana Cosby
Romance Edged With Danger

Anita Clenney said...

This is a great topic. Rejection is the pits, but when you step back and learn from it, it becomes a tool for success.

One publisher rejected me because she thought my plot got too complicated, but she told my agent that I had talent and a sense of humor. After the initial "oh no" I thought, "Wow. A senior editor at a top publishing house thinks I have talent." That's actually encouraging. It turned a negative into a positive.

Polly said...

I'm getting the same comments myself. Too much romance for suspense, too much suspense for romance. Not to mention that my characters are out of the norm. But I have an agent who is behind me. But as we all know, that can stop when she feels like she's wasting her time. BUT, I have another book right behind the last one. And another book after that.

Celia Yeary said...

MAGGIE--hitting a nerve here, this morning, friend.I haven't had a rejection in a long time, but that's because I have safely sequestered my mss in neat little files. So, back to pounding the pavement.
The topic of rejection is always before us, but it helps to read someone else's stories and views. Thanks!! Celia

Maggie Toussaint said...

So good to hear from old friends Diana, Polly, and Celia and great to hear from Anita. I always get the wind knocked out of me with rejections. It doesn't get easier, but once you look underneath the hurt, there's a learning opportunity.

Tanya said...

Maggie,

You make me want to write! I used to be dazed for days after the "r's". I would stop writing. Now I'm used to them. I write the same day and I keep submitting. No one's going to break down your door looking for that "golden" manuscript. Excellent post.
Glad to be a new Guppie!

Cate Masters said...

Loved the post, Maggie! I agree, writers should post it over their desks: Never never never give up! But also: Go with your gut. If you're not writing what you love, it'll show up in the story.
Congrats on your two contracts!

Mary Ricksen said...

I so enjoyed this post. Rejection, don't we all have to face it.
Contracts make it all worth it!

Ellen said...

Great posting, Maggie! And I'm terribly proud of you for hanging in there and for the successes you've had. Keep 'em coming, Girlfriend :)

Morgan Mandel said...

That is a great motivating blog. Makes me want to go home and write right now!

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I love what you have to say! Guess I'm just another struggling writer who often falls between the cracks.
My mysteries for Five Star so far, THE INFERNO COLLECTION and THE DROWNING POOL, were listed as romantic suspense. My next one, THE TRUTH SLEUTH, will be published under the mystery banner. So like you, there's a confusion of genres. Congrats on the two new contracts!

Riley Quinn said...

Great post, Maggie. So true. As learn as we learn something, we're still ahead.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Maggie,
Very true. Writing talent is a gift that should be cherished and enhanced, but if you don't have perseverence you'll get no where in the publishing game.
Regards
Margaret

Joylene Butler said...

This is a great post, and something struggling writers need to hear over and over again. We can't give up. Ever!

LK Hunsaker said...

One thing about the publishing game: it does weed out those not determined enough. ;-)

Great entry. If you want something, go after it and keep going!

liana laverentz said...

Way to go, Maggie! A rejection is only a rejection if you make it one. Here's to hard work and perseverance!

www.lianalaverentz.com

Susan Oleksiw said...

This is an important reminder for all writers. Talent will take you far, but hard work gets you to the finish line.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Wow! I had day job stuff all afternoon and came back to a blog full of comments. Thank you one and all for stopping by. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who works through rejections. I appreciate all the love and comments from my writing buds!

K.A. Steele said...

I'm so glad you kept your focus and never gave up. Rejection can be brutal, but you didn't let it keep you down. Very inspiring!

P.L. Parker said...

Wonderful post, Maggie. Dealing with a little of that myself lately. But I will push forward. Thanks for the encouraging words.

amber polo said...

I like the analogy of looking for your soulmate. A rejection from someone who only sorta likes you tells you he was not THE ONE. That agent or editor has to LOVE you.

darkangelauthor said...

Wonderful post, Maggie -- truly inspiring, and a refreshingly unique way of viewing the dreaded synopsis. Well done!

Linda

Kim Smith said...

Great post. Totally encouraging!

Kim Smith said...

Great post. Totally encouraging!

Tera Online Gold said...

Thank you very much! I can sort of hear the final i on chiisai, though it's very faint. Having the romaji makes memorizing so much easier.



RS Gold
Tera Gold

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