Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Finding The Courage to Submit Your Manuscript And The Inner Strength To Move Beyond Rejection

with guest blogger Mary Alford. 

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.
Mary Alford grew up in a small Texas town famous for, well not much of anything really. Being the baby of the family and quite a bit younger than her brothers and sister, Mary had plenty of time to entertain herself. Making up stories seems to come naturally to her. As a pre-teen, Mary discovered Christian romance novels and knew instinctively that was what she wanted to do with her over-active imagination. She wrote her first novel as a teen, (it’s tucked away somewhere never to see the light of day), but never really pursued her writing career seriously until 2012 when she entered the Love Inspired Speed Dating contest and sold her first Love Inspired Suspense, Forgotten Past. 

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…

Mary Alford


Renee McBride said...

Good morning, Mary!

Thank you for sharing those statistics. I'm part of the persistent 97% and even have a few battle scars to prove it. I can honestly say that no matter how many rejections I collect, I just can't seem to stop torturing myself, lol. I know I'll reach a sweet spot eventually when the editor will like my story as much as I do. Thank you for your encouragement this morning.

Mary Preston said...

I'm a reader so no rejection letters for me. What a relief.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Mary.

You are so spot on in your post.

The old Wayne Gretsky quote comes to mind.

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Tina Radcliffe said...

There you go, Renee.

And another quote "Success is the best revenge."

I like to prove those rejections WRONG!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Waving to Mary Preston, DOWN UNDER. Mary is one of our most faithful readers here in Seekerville.

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the great post Mary! It's full of encouragement to those who write and really for anyone in general. The words Never Give Up come to mind. I'm in a season of not writing now. I'm tending to my 88 year old mother who is going through a lot of medical issues right now. So Never Give Up speaks to me through this season I am going through as well.

I would love to have my name tossed in for one of your books. Thank you for your generosity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Welcome, Mary! Thank you for this encouraging post. I agree, we've got to finish the book!

Janet Dean said...

MARY, welcome back to Seekerville. Thanks for sharing with us today. Your post is chock full of wisdom. I've given books second, third, fourth...chances. Rejections kept crawling in. None of my rejections were strange. Most were the form letter variety. Your advice to start a new book is very important. I'd add that before I submitted, I sent the book's opening chapter on the contest route, which helped me see what it needed to grab an editor's attention.

I brought apple fritters this morning.


May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Good morning Mary,

<3 that photo of you and your youngest fan! We just never know the lives we touch.

Since I'm in the editing/polishing phase of this book, I found your post encouraging. At SOME point, I do need to let it fly... (But it's not quite ready yet. REALLY! HA!)

Good encouraging words from you today, even if you're already pubbed. Thank you!

Rocky Mountains huh? One of my fave places. All the best to you with your latest!!!

And good morning everyone! /waving/

Mary Alford said...

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome. I'm happy to be with you all today.

Mary Alford said...

Renee, that's the hard part of rejections. Not taking it personally. I still struggle with that one. And yes, you will find the right editor for your voice and story. It's just a matter of time.

Mary Alford said...

Mary, we're happy that you are a reader. Without readers, everything we as authors do would be pointless, so thank you.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Mary And welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for the great post with all that encouragement and inspiration to finish that book and get it out there.

I think some of our Seekers have already proven that many of those books rejected early on, went on to become best sellers in other markets. Yay for second chances.

Thanks again for encouraging us to keep on submitting. Have fun today and thanks again for joining us.

Mary Alford said...

Janet, good advice on testing the waters by entering a contest. And thanks for the apple fritters. They go well with a hot cup of coffee.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Waving at Mary P Yes, reading is much more fun than getting all those rejections. chuckle.

Waving to you also KC Yep, let her fly.

Cindy W Praying for you and your mom. Tough times. But love gets you through it.

Mary Alford said...

May, in my opinion that little girl is a future author. I was doing a book signing with Jolene Navarro and she just honed in on our table. You could tell she loves to read.

I find that I knew I was done editing when I found myself simply rearranging words. You'll know.

I think advice from others who have been there is valuable no matter what stage you are in. I still learn so much from my fellow authors.

Mary Alford said...

Cindy W, thanks for joining. I admire you so much for helping with your mother. Family comes first and I believe God will provide you with the time you need to fulfil your dreams. Bless you.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Mary,
I love suspense and the opportunity to read a new-to-me author. I have always like the stranded storyline too, so your book has great appeal to me.

I'd love to read Rocky Mountain Pursuit, count me in!

Cindy Regnier said...

Rejections have been my undoing - at least of late. Thank you for such an honest post Mary, encouraging as well. I am trying to get back at it and count the battle scars as another step forward. Rocky Mountain Pursuit sounds great. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this topic.

Mary Alford said...

Tracey, you got it.

Mary Alford said...

Cindy, rejections are so hard. I remember one in particular where I think I cried all day. I was so sure my story was perfect for the publisher. As it turned out, I later sold to that publisher with a different story. The one that was right.

Tina Radcliffe said...

You know I too have gotten a rejection that had my name on the email but someone else's book listed. I never had the courage to email the publisher back about that one.

Another favorite was an editor who held on to my msc for 18 months and she acknowledged that in her letter. In those days no news was good news.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary, why the Rocky Mountains for your setting? Only curious. I use it also. :) Lived in Denver for way too many years.

Mary Alford said...

Tina, that's terrible. I remember the days when it might take years to find out word on your manuscript. Back in the days when you had to mail the manuscript in by snail mail. I do not miss those days. Nowadays, with email the process has sped up, thank goodness. It's bad enough to have to wait years for an answer, but to wait that long for a rejection is horrible.

Mary Alford said...

Tina, I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains when my husband and I visited a small town called Pagosa Springs years ago. Pagosa is at the edge of the Rockies in the Southern part of Colorado. We later bought a small cabin there.
It was while I was on vacation in Pagosa that I did the pitch for my first LIS novel, Forgotten Past so I have fond writing memories there as well.

I think the mountains have a way of getting into your blood sometimes. One day, I'd love to live there for half of the year. Texas is wonderful in the wintertime. Not so much in the summertime.

Mary Alford said...

Sandra, you're right. I'm sure many Seekers have experienced the agony of rejection only to have their dreams fulfilled by another publisher. For the most part, rejection letters are simply a matter of the story not being the right fit for the publisher at the time.

I'm happy to be here today. This is an encouraging and welcoming group.

Mary Alford said...

Maybe some of our published authors would like to share how many tries it took before they were able to sell.

For me, I started out writing sweet Christian romances, but suspense was where my heart was so I tried different avenues before I found out about the LI Speed dating contest and entered. From there, I sold my first LIS.

Edwina said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for such an encouraging post! I've had several rejections - only a few, because I've not submitted much! ;) That's the "chicken" in me.

Please put my name in for the drawing.


Mary Alford said...

Edwina, finding the courage to submit is hard, but I can mostly say that with each rejection I've learned a little bit more about the business of writing and I've gotten tougher skin.

Marianne Barkman said...

Hi, Mary, and welcome to Seekerville.
As a reader, I'm so grateful that authors are willing to accept rejection letters and go on. In a perfect world every one of those stories would be published immediately (I can dream, too, right?) and we readers would have more books to read. As it is, I'm glad you don't give up.

Susan Hollaway said...

Wonderful post, Mary!

Mary Alford said...

Marianne, thanks for being just a loyal reader. I so appreciate you.

Mary Alford said...

Thanks so much, Susan.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Let me just say it took me ten years. Did I submit every year? Nope. Family and life got in the way. But I do recall 2004 in August, emailing Missy Tippens and telling her that if something didn't pop soon I was going to quit writing and quilt (along with the day job). I bought all the supplies, then I finaled in the Golden Heart in January. That was my signal to put the supplies away. I still didn't sell until 2010 and that manuscript was rejected by Kensington, Avon and Abingdon. Sold to Love Inspired. Thank you, Melissa Endlich.

Linda Truesdell said...

Well it was encouraging to hear I am at least in that 3%! I have finished not 1 but 3 books and still I struggle with the one I on now and the fear of sending any of them out again. Thank you for this post and the reminder to keep on keeping on.

CatMom said...

Welcome, Mary!
Thanks for these very helpful suggestions and reminders - - this is going into my Keeper File. Thankfully, the rejection letters I've received have been kind (some VERY kind!) but it's still a huge letdown. But I've really tried to use these as learning experiences and also to "toughen" me up a bit, LOL.
Your book ROCKY MOUNTAIN PURSUIT is on my TBR stack and I'm looking forward to starting it very soon!
Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Mary Alford said...

Tina, so happy you didn't take up quilting full time. Thanks for persevering through those years. You are the perfect example of how it pays off.

Mary Alford said...

Linda, so glad you are in the 3%. I get the fear of submitting. It's hard, but just consider it another part of your education. And it gets easier each time.

Sandy Smith said...

Thanks for a very inspiring post, Mary. I need to finish my book so I can be in the 3%. I do have fear when I even think of finishing and submitting it but I will do it. I have received plenty of rejections from my short story writing, but have had plenty of sales, too. So I have to keep that in mind as I finish my book.

Please enter me in the drawing. Your book looks good.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Linda Truesdell!! 3?? Good for you!Woot!!!

Sharee Stover said...

Mary, I so appreciated your blog post this morning. I've yet to submit to any publishers. I have done pitches to agents/editors but haven't tried going the query letter route yet. I think I'm stuck on OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE EDITING mode. I do have three completed MS so yeah for being in the top 3%! Do you suggest doing query letters AND pitching in person? Or picking one?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah, Sharee.

This is publishing. You do query letters, you do pitches in person. You find a way for your paths to cross at conference. You stalk them in a non stalkerish way on social media. Whatever it takes.

Carol Garvin said...

Such a timely post for me! Thanks, Mary. Fear isn't really the deterrent in my case, but what Sharee calls Obsessive Compulsive Editing. I've finished four novels but have only sent out queries a half dozen times. Each one has resulted in a kind, personalized rejection that should have encouraged me to try again, but instead I either dove back into more editing, trying to make it better, or I was already at work on another story and put the rejected one on the shelf.

The rational part of me says I can't expect to get a story published that way, but the irrational part tells me nobody wants to publish them anyway, and the writing part is much more satisfying than the querying! ::sigh:: A dilemma. :)

Mary Alford said...

CatMom, Rejections aren't fun no matter what, but I'm glad yours were kind. I hope you enjoy Rocky Mountain Pursuit.

Mary Alford said...

Sandy, being part of the 3% is huge. Congrats and congrats on your sales.

Mary Alford said...

Sharee, Tina summed it up nicely. I would suggest you do both. Why limit yourself to one course of action when you never know what will pay off.

Mary Alford said...

Carol, its so hard to fight those negative voices in your head that tell you no ones ever going to want to publish what you write. And it is so much easier to start a new book over querying your work. But it sounds like you've had some nice comments on your work already and that's huge. Keep writing, but make a commitment to query one of your stories as well. You can do it.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, I stopped by this morning, and then got called away to take care of cute kids, but I want you to know I loved this.... the nice tone, the caring, the encouragement.

Rejections are tough, no matter if you're new or seasoned, and no one loves them.... but that springing back, going into the lion's cage again, that's what makes us authors.

I think back to the HORRIBLE STUFF I sent out as a newbie....

(hides head... really.... hiding her head!!!!!)

But life goes on, we all improve, and the trick is to never give up. Tenacity pays off!!!!

DebH said...

well, I've only finished one MS and got a really nice R&R (via the Killer Voice contest) which I'm sort of working on (focusing more on my six year old at present). Thanks to Seekerville, I know that rejection is part of the gig. Still, it's nice to hear your thoughts as well - sort of extra confirmation. I'm in a weird writing/not writing phase at present, but still stop by here to continue my craft education. I think your story of your path to publication is really cool.

Please put my name in the draw for your book. Thanks for your generosity.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm grinning at Tina quilting......

'Nuff said.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I still have the quilting supplies and have promised to give them away to a good home this year. HAAAA!!

Hey, I used to craft angels too. Remember??

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for these on-target insights, Mary! It's a pleasure having you as our guest today!

Oh my goodness, if I'd quit because of rejections . . . well, it doesn't bear thinking about! Since I began seriously pursuing a writing career in 1983, I've received hundreds of rejection letters--too many to count. One of the most memorable was a magazine piece that came back in my SASE with a simple REJECTED stamped in red ink across the cover page. No polite form letter, nothing.

The hardest rejections to deal with have been those that came after months and months--sometimes two years or more--of waiting. When it took that long, I felt so certain it was because the editor really wanted the story and was looking for a place in the publishing schedule. Alas, typically it was just the "slush pile blues."

Wilani Wahl said...

Mary Alford, Thank you for this post. It is very helpful. When I first started writing, I was told over and over I should write a book. this was a non fiction book. It has been rejected twice. The second time I received the rejection letter within 12 hours of submitting it so there was no way they even read it. The fact hurt worse than anything. After that I found someone to read it and make comments. they had it for many months, so I began working on writing novels. Now I am editing and entering in contests and getting it critiqued before I even try to submit the novel. On the non fiction I am now making the suggested changes and will still submit it in the future. It is a set back but not the end of the world. In the mean time I will keep trying to learn and develop as a writer.

Don't include me in the drawing since I already have the book. I am glad you stopped by Seekerville today.

Wilani Wahl said...

Yesterday my Amazon account was hacked. Thank goodness I found out, but the frustration of all the hassle plus I have had to order a new debit card which could take 2 weeks before I can use it. At times I have felt violated yet at the same time I have peace knowing the Lord is going through this with me. I'll be honest because of my injury in my ears, the nerves that control panic attacks, depression and anxiety have been damaged so I can slip into a major panic attack with no control over it. That did happen yesterday. At the same time I was hysterically screaming I was also calling on the Lord to get me through this.

As I began to be able to relax the thought crossed my mind that a character in a future book might end up with this happening to them.

At times I feel violated and angry but I am so grateful the Lord is going through this with me.

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

It's rejection that puts the backbone in success!

Your thoughts on rejection have sent a thousand images cascading through my mind.

It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. And who is more 'familiar' with our writing than we ourselves? Who knows better each defect, revision, and lagging doubt?

How can one see the beauty in a sausage when we are the ones who just made it?

Have you ever read something that you've long abandoned and yet found it so good on rereading that you questioned whether you actually wrote it or not? I have but somehow I knew that if I read it again enough times it would lose its goodness. I would be like the farmhand who carried a heavy sack from the field to that scale in the barn and when told it was only fifty pounds, said: "Just let it stay there for a while, it will get a lot heavier."

A reader only sees what is on the page -- not what was once there or what could have been there. The beauty of innocence.

The older one gets the more of her many faces rejection reveals.

Two types of rejection:

If you want to know how good your story is: enter writing contests! Contest judges are concerned with how well your story is written.

If you want to know how saleable your writing is, regardless of its compositional merits, then send it to a publisher. Bankruptcy is the publisher's ultimate rejection.

Two types of fear:

Sometimes it is the fear of success that is hiding in the shadows. What if our book is published and bombs? What if it is not the fulfillment of all our dreams? What if it is like that diet, where after losing a hundred pounds, none of our problems went away? In fact got worse! Prince Charming was still just as illusive.

Are writing dreams just as hollow?

As long as I am trying to publish, there is hope, there are friends and there is support available. Expectations are lower while dreams hover without boundaries.

As for a memorable rejection letter, the editor of Dog World or Dog Fancy, (I can't remember which as I've repressed the memory) sent back a 1 1/2 page, single spaced, letter scolding me for submitting a story about having to assist in the euthanasia my military K9 dog when his legs gave out with hip dysplasia.

The editor read it, cried, and had her day ruined. It was so sad. Then she castigated me. "Why would I have the gall to think any of her readers would want to read such a depressing piece? "

After that letter, all other rejections have lost their sting.

Please put me in the drawing for "Rocky Mountain Pursuit". The Rocky Mountains make one of my favorite romance settings.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

I left a comment earlier, but apparently, it didn't come through. Argh. Mary, this post was filled with such words of wisdom and encouragement. Thank you for that.

I haven't had any strange rejection letters, but I received one that was very encouraging. it took time to work through the disappointment. But at the same time, it prompted me to keep on working on my craft and my stories.

This is a copy-and-paste post for me. Thanks again!

Chill N said...

Hi Mary! I received a rejection letter addressed to "Dear Author," which was pretty cool because at least they acknowledged I was an author :-) As it turned out, that rejection was a blessing for several reasons, including that maybe six months later the publisher went bankrupt.

Years ago when I joined RWA, the rejection letter I mentioned above proved I was submitting a full-length manuscript. That proof was my entry into a group where there was information regarding craft, marketing, contracts, networking, contests, etc. I learned so much!

I have saved that rejection letter as proof that 'rejection' can indeed lead to good things.

Nancy C

Mary Connealy said...

Probably the most demoralizing rejection I've ever received cam from ...My agent.
Not the one I have now.
My agent requested that I send her my book and then much later it came back with a rejection note (wow, was that the time it was a rejection STAMP?" Can't remember)
The letter said she wouldn't represent me.
To me this was a hard lesson about how little attention an agent is paying when she is in hard cord...clear my desk...mode.
Just a wild, fast NO NO NO NO to every submission without even giving a thought to the name on the manuscript.
I phoned and asked 'what's up, you asked me to send it?"
"Oh, oops. Sorry didn't recognize that it was from you. Please send it again."

I wasn't with that agent very long.

Mary Connealy said...

A second rejection I received said, "You're not using a good historical voice." (or something like that.)
Well, the heroine was driving a PICK UP TRUCK on page three.
Do you get that? And this was after I was a published author. They gave me less than THREE PAGES.
They thought it was historical and when it didn't sound right they quit before page three.

That was a wake up call about how important it is to grab an editor FAST. You do NOT have much time.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Mary!! I'm so excited about your LIS release!

What a great post. It's such a good lesson to learn (sometimes the hard way). We need to keep on keeping on.

My strangest rejection was getting the same rejection letter twice from the same person at a publishing house. :) Mary told me I needed to watch out. He might just show up at my door to reject me again! LOL

As we're preparing to move, I've had fun finding old rejection letters that got stuck away in piles with old contest entries. I didn't think to file those first ones. I guess I was in the shock and denial stage. ;)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, my, my, my, Mary Connealy. That's a story to tell your grandchildren writers.

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, that agent rejection story is crazy!!

Missy Tippens said...

I should clarify above. Mary Connealy was the one who told me to watch out for a rejection at my door. Confusing with Mary guest blogging today!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, so thrilled to have you with us today! Thanks for a wonderful blog post!

You mentioned rejection?

I should have saved my rejection letters. I could have paper the ENTIRE house! Actually, I had a season of rejections...and in case you don't know, a season is a lot longer than a decade. :)

Whenever I was ready to give up, I'd win a contest. I knew God was holding that carrot in front of my nose and encouraging me to keep working.

In my opinion, the closer you get to publication, the harder those rejections seem. I call that "almost to publication point," a plateau of sorts. I kept winning contests and received positive feedback, but no sales. Too many wonderful writers give up during the plateau period.

As we know, determination and perseverance are keys to a writer's success. So anyone in Seekerville land who's thinking of throwing in the towel...DON'T!!! Keep writing. Keep working. Keep moving forward. Your dreams will come true!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Wonderful words of encouragement! People don't realize how much courage it takes to hit 'send'.

(I just turned in my 9th book, and I STILL get nauseous!!)

Mary Alford said...

Ruth, I understand taking care of the grandbabies, I have three and life is scheduled around their visits. I know that's terrible.

I remember sending some pretty bad stuff out in the beginning as well. I'm so glad no one keeps track of those...

Mary Alford said...

DebH, first, congrats on the R&R. That's a big deal. They don't give those out lightly. And second, family comes first. Keep on working on your revisions. You'll get there.

Mary Alford said...

Tina, someday, I want to learn to quilt, knit, and all those other...things, (I was going to say grandma things, but I wouldn't want to make anyone mad...grinning). Anyway, there all part of my bucket list.

Mary Alford said...

Myra, you're my new hero. Hundreds of rejections! I agree that the hardest are the ones that the wait is long. You get your hopes up for sure.

Mary Alford said...

Wilani, hi. Glad to see you here. Entering contests and getting critiques is a good way to learn the market as well as where your strengths and weaknesses are. It sounds like you are well on your way. Taking advice is sometimes hard. I'm glad your working on the changes.

Sorry about being hacked. Its so frustrating.

Mary Alford said...

Vince, so true. Our readers get to see the finished product. If only they could see the struggles, the doubts, the tears even that go into finishing a story.
I think one of the hardest lessons I've learned as an author is just because you get a book published doesn't necessary mean someone wants to buy it.
It's sad sometimes that editors put their personal opinions into making a decision on a story.

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, MARY!! And I gotta tell you that I love, Love, LOVE this post!!!

First of all, laughed out loud over point #1: You Have to Finish the Book

LOL ... yes, that's definitely a must although I know some people actually haven't finished the book when they submit, which would scare the ever-living daylights out of me!!

Also really like point#2: You Can Only Edit For So Long

I kind of wish I had known this point with my first book, A Passion Most Pure, which I edited at least 60 times. Needless to say, it was the only one of my books that had just a mere sprinkling of edits from my editor. :) But honestly, I probably could have written three books in the time it took me to edit that puppy, so now I've wised up. :)

But I have to say that my FAVORITE of your points is point#4: It’s Okay To Cry

LOL ... I cried so many tears, I thought it was a prerequisite to publication, so bring on the Kleenex! :)

And, NO, I did NOT know that 97% of all writers never finish their manuscript -- OH MY GOODNESS, TRULY???? That shocks me to no end!!

Great post, Mary, thank you!!


Mary Alford said...

Jeanne, glad you made it through this time. I'm glad you didn't let the disappointment take away from the fact that the editor saw something good in your work. Keep going, you're almost there.

Mary Alford said...

Nancy C, way to turn a bump in the road into something positive. I'm very proud of you. I still have a few of my old rejections. Mostly because it helps me see how far I've come.

Julie Lessman said...

YOU ASKED: "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."

LOL, that is a hoot!! Did you ever try and contact that author? :)

I would have to say the strangest rejection letter I ever received was one scribbled on my own query letter. Apparently I wasn't even worth the price of a piece of their letterhead because scrawled across my very meticulous letter were the words "Not interested in this project at this time." I guess I should consider myself lucky they answered at all. :)

The second strangest rejection letter I got came three years after I submitted it and AFTER I had signed a 3-book deal with Revell. Let me tell you, that was one rejection letter that made me smile rather than cry. :)


Mary Alford said...

Mary Connealy, I can't believe she did that. If she's too busy to realize she's receiving something from one of her clients then she's too busy. Good for you for going with someone else.
I think all the editors are overworked and you're right you have literally no time to capture their attention and it doesn't matter if you're published or not. We still get rejected.

Mary Alford said...

Missy, if they start showing up at our door to reject it, I think I may be out of the business...LOL.
It's fun to look back now on rejections. At the time, I still remember the heartache.

Mary Alford said...

Debby, okay I have to confess, I still enjoy hearing others talk about their rejection letters. It just brings home the truth...it happens to us all.

I'd say God definitely was encouraging you to keep going. I was more stubborn. I kept trying to write different genres and I clearly wasn't supposed to do that. Once I focused on Christian romance, things being to fall into place.

Someone once told me, everyone has to pay their dues. Some of us owe more than others. I was one of those.

Mary Alford said...

Sherri, that's so true. It gets easier, but you never fully get over feeling nervous.

Mary Alford said...

Julie, You know, I never did try to contact the author. This has been quite a few years ago before social media became big. I wonder if I still have the rejection letter...

Three years after you submitted the story...amazing. I'd say God had the best path worked out for you with Revell. It's amazing how He words in our best interest sometimes even though at the time, it's hard to see.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wilani, I didn't offer my sympathies on your Amazon account. So sorry. But I did go and change my password right away. So thank you for that, friend.

Sherida Stewart said...

Thank you, Mary!!! Your advice is EXACTLY what I need today! I'm (almost) ready to celebrate because THE END is on the horizon. I could edit forever....forever...., but I know I must send my manuscript into the wind....soaring, floating or crashing....but I will persevere. Yes, that's what writers do! Thanks for the inspiration .....and comfort. You know all the emotions I've experenced with this "gift of over-imagination." Blessings!

Mary Alford said...

Sherida, you are welcome and I'm glad I could help.

Marsha Bernabe said...

I'm a reader, but it's fascinating to see what an author goes through to get published.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Woot!!! Sherida! Congratulations as you near THE END!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary Alford, I know we are inching toward dinner time and bed time in some parts of the country. Thanks so much for being such a terrific hostess today!

Mary Alford said...

Marsha, it's always good to hear from readers. Thanks for stopping by.

Mary Alford said...

Tina, thank you so much and thank you Seekers for the warm welcome. I've truly enjoyed being with you today.

Tanya Agler said...

Mary, Thank you so much. I'm in that stage with finished manuscripts, and I'm almost done with another manuscript. Thank you for the encouragement, and it's always wonderful to hear someone else discuss what they went through, how they coped, and how they persevered. So now to try to get one writing sprint in so I can finish this draft within the next two weeks.

Mary Alford said...

You can do it, Tanya. Way to go on the finished manuscript. That's an accomplishment in itself. You are part of the 3%. Can't wait to be reading your success story soon.

Rebecca McLafferty said...

Hi Mary and thank you for your encouraging words. Your thoughts sure do ring true...is a book ever perfect enough to "let it go"? At some point, it must be if we're going to be successful authors. Congrats on your book, also. Great cover and I adore LI!

Mary Alford said...

Thanks so much, Rebecca.

Laurie Wood said...

Thank you, Mary for such an encouraging post. The strangest rejection I ever received was after submitting a requested partial to an editor. Within fifteen minutes - I do not lie! - I got an email back saying "no one wants to read about this..." and "this" was never defined. I waited a day and then emailed back asking if she'd could tell me what "this" meant and she just emailed saying, "if you got a rejection email from us that is our answer." So, I may have burned a bridge there but I figured it wasn't a good indication that I'd be able to work with her. It felt like she hadn't realized she'd requested it in the first place. And the best thing to do when you've finished a book is to start outlining/writing the next one - you're certainly right there!

I'm in Canada so could you please put me in the draw for an e-copy of your book? :)

have a blessed day,


Mary Alford said...

Laurie, that's heartbreaking. I wonder sometimes if editors realize how personal their words are to us. Yes, I am giving away an e-copy to those outside the US.

Crickett said...

Mary, this was soooo good! I just sent off a requested proposal to an editor last night, and I had to force myself to stop editing. I kept finding things each time I read it that I could make better. But I finally said, Enough! And pushed the send button. I've been rejected so many times. And yes, I've cried. And it's good to hear it's ok to cry. Thank you for this post. These words were exactly what I needed to hear today.

Mary Alford said...

Way to go, Crickett. I'm so glad you hit send. Congrats. I'm hoping only positive news comes your way. Thanks for stopping by.