We writers are an interesting breed. We see stories everywhere we look. We can take the most mundane things and turn it into a story. We pour our blood, sweat, and tears into a story. For us, writing is very personal.
And while writing allows us a creative outlet for our gift of over-imagination, it can also be very isolating. We work in a vacuum. It’s just us and our computer struggling to make our dream a reality. It doesn’t matter if you write contemporary romance, historical, or romantic suspense like me, writing is always a challenge.
Today, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned on my journey to becoming a published author.
1: You Have To Finish The Book
After weeks and sometimes months of polishing and stressing over every single word, struggling through the dreaded sagging middle or your story while dealing with writer’s block, you finally limp towards the finish line. You type those fulfilling two words. The End.
You have now achieved what some people only dream of. You’ve finished your first book. Did you know that 97% of all writers never finish their manuscript? So, if you have completed a book under your belt, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re amongst the elite 3%.
But finishing the book is just the beginning.
2: You Can Only Edit For So Long
Letting go is hard to do, I know. Sending your manuscript out for the first time takes a lot of intestinal fortitude.
The fear of having your story rejected can be intimidating. Up until the moment you submit your story to that first publisher, the dream of becoming a published author is still alive and flourishing. Once it’s out there, well, there’s always a chance it won’t be accepted.
When I first decided to enter Forgotten Past (my first Love Inspired Suspense) in the Speed Dating Contest hosted by Emily Rodmell, I almost talked myself out of it several times. The usual excuses came to mind. Maybe it wasn’t the right fit for my book? I’d been rejected before, so I thought what if they didn’t like this one either?
Somehow, I shoved those negative voices out of my head and went ahead and submitted my entry. And guess what? I was selected to do the pitch. From there, I sold my first book. If I hadn’t taken the chance, I might still be polishing and dreaming.
3: It Takes Courage To Submit
So now that you’ve worked up the courage to submit for the first time, where do you go to look for the perfect fit for your manuscript?
Having a circle of published authors who were willing to share their experiences with me was an invaluable part of my learning process. It’s been my experience that most authors are more than eager to answer any of my questions, give advice when I ask, or simply hold my hand through the process.
Some great places to go for resources through the years has always been Romance Writers Of America, and, if you write Christian Fiction, American Christian Fiction Writers. Both of these organizations have listings for publishers with details of what they accept. Publishers like Harlequin often host writing contests to search for new talent as well.
The first thing I do when I find the right publisher for my book is contact some of the authors currently writing for them. I ask how the publisher is to work with. You can never have too much information.
Once you’ve selected the right publisher that fits your genre and voice, it’s time to hit the send button.
Now, take a big breath and get ready for the next event in the publishing game. The waiting. Sometimes the wait period is short. Other times, it can take months if not years to hear back.
If you’re like me, you worry about your baby being out there on its own with strangers. Will they love it the way you do?
The best way to keep the uncertainty and doubts at bay is to start something new. It’s a good idea to have lots of material ready just in case a publisher wants to see more of your work. And it's good practice. Keep honing your writing skills. We can always improve. Write something every day. Read other authors in your genre. See what’s being published and by who.
4: It’s Okay To Cry
The day finally arrives. The one you’ve waited on for so long. Only the news is not what you expected. You’ve just received the worst thing any writer can get. The dreaded rejection letter.
Dear Ms./Mr. ________ Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, it’s not what we’re looking for….
Those are the hardest words to hear. It’s almost like getting punched in the gut. It hurts. The manuscript you worked so lovingly on has been rejected.
Once you pick yourself up off the floor, you reread the letter a dozen or more times looking for some clue as to why your story didn’t work. In your mind your voice was perfect for the publisher. So what went wrong?
Take it from me, someone who has received MANY rejections along the way, cut yourself some slack and realize is okay to cry, (remember when I said writing was personal?).
If you’re lucky, the editor will have taken the time to give you some advice on what worked and what didn’t in their opinion. Some rejections are simply form letters. Those are hard because you have no idea really what you did wrong.
5: Don’t Take It Personally
Easier said than done, I know. When you receive a rejection letter, the hardest thing to do is not take it personally because that’s exactly how it feels.
The reality is, the editor isn’t rejecting you as a writer, they are simply letting you know the story you submitted didn’t work for them at that time. Sometimes it a matter of having another story similar to yours already under contract.
I wish that I could tell you that I breezed right through every single one of my rejections and didn’t let them get to me, but that wouldn’t be the truth. There were several that made me cry. Some made me angry. All were learning tools.
6: Every Book Deserves A Second Chance
The real challenge for every writer, it to pick yourself up after you receive a rejection, and keep going. There have been so many times in the past that I felt like giving up. It’s natural after you receive a rejection letter to think you’ll never get published.
There’s only one way to move from being a writer to becoming a published author and that’s to shake off the blues, find another publishing house that fits your story, and submit again. Your book deserves a second chance. You’ve put too much love into it to quit now. Some of the best authors in the world have received numerous rejection letters before they finally sold. What sets them apart from those 97% who never finished the book? One word…perseverance.
The best advice I can give you is to finish the book and know when the edits are done. Find the courage to submit your book, and the strength to move beyond that rejection letter, because it isn’t personal…its writing.
So…what is the strangest rejection letter you’ve ever received or heard about? Mine is the one that came addressed to another writer. I’m still wondering if they got my letter. I guess I’ll never know.
I will be giving away two prints copies of Rocky Mountain Pursuit to our US readers. But I don’t want to leave out our international readers, so I will be giving away two Epub or Kindle copies for them. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.
A Little About Mary:
|Mary meets her youngest fan at a Texas book signing.|
You can connect with Mary on her website: http:www.maryalford.net, or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mary.alford.1272
A Little About Rocky Mountain Pursuit:
Everyone believes agent Jase Bradford is dead—everyone but Reyna Peterson. Only he can protect her now that someone wants the information her CIA husband died to secure. As the one member of their spy team not killed, Jase must remain in the shadows. Yet when Reyna leads the enemy right to his mountain refuge and blows his cover, Jase risks his life for hers. As his best friend's beautiful widow scales the walls around his heart, whether out of loyalty or love, he makes it his duty to secure her safety. But when their pursuers trap them in the snowy Colorado mountains, will it become his final mission?
Thank you for letting me drop by today.
All the best…