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“No” Is the Easy Answer: Writing to Avoid Rejection

Yesterday’s post over at The Rejectionist has some very good things to say about publishing and rejection:

“Publishing is like New York. Author-friends, The Publishing Industry does not give a shit about you unless you can make it money. Publishing is not interested in your dreams or in holding your hand until you achieve them. Do you see where we are going with this? Waiting to be published in order to live your real life is a lot like hanging out on the sidewalks of Manhattan hoping someone will notice you are special. The odds are not in your favor.”

The default answer in any publishing endeavor, whether you write fiction or nonfiction, is no. No is the easy answer. No, they don’t want to take a chance on a new voice. No, they don’t have time to teach you the ropes. No, they really don’t want to be bothered with yet another iteration of an idea that’s been done to death. No. No. No.

It might sound depressing, but it is true. Now, before you throw your WIP into the wind, abandon your writing goals, and run off to join the circus, ask yourself some serious questions. Like, for starters, do you really have what it takes to be a trapeze artist? Will you look good in those spangly tights? Do clowns frighten you?

If the circus is out, ask yourself this OTHER question:

“What can I do to turn a NO into a YES?”

It’s easier to say yes to a new voice, if the voice has some authority. If you are pitching a book about cake decorating and are a cake decorator, you have authority, even if you have no track record. Look for opportunities to use your experience to your advantage and build that track record.

Don’t expect an editor to have time to teach you things you should have found out on your own. Prepare thyself. Read guidelines and style sheets, read past issues (for magazines), study the publisher’s catalog (for books). Know what they are looking for and how they like to see it presented.

Give them fresh ideas. Amazon.com lists 1,822 results for books about Benjamin Franklin. You can bet your bippy that while every one of them tells the story of the same man, they each have a different approach. For example,  Now & Ben: the Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Baretta is a kid’s book that focuses on Franklin as an inventor. Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School by Carl Japkise is an adult book detailing the lesser known writings of the man. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a ghost story or a book about ghost towns, every subject can be approached from hundreds of different angles. Don’t settle for the first one that comes to mind. Instead, find the fun, funky or fresh take that nobody thought of yet.

Don’t wait for editors to tell you you’re special, go out and make it so. Make it harder to say no, and easier to say yes.


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