Monday, November 28, 2005

What to do if the Answer is "No"?

Whenever I hear an author say they sold their first submission I feel like slitting my wrists. I guess some people are born with the gift and succeed easily. I keep reminding myself how much sweeter the success will be because of the effort it required.

The first thing to do when you receive a rejection is submit elsewhere. Choose another market, print another manuscript, type another cover letter, address two envelopes and send that manuscript off again. (Don't forget postage.)

What do you do about that niggling feeling you have that maybe you just aren't good enough? Remember, you are not alone, most of us have felt those doubts. Some of us more than others.

I started out to write picture books, and although I have many publishing credits, not one of them is a picture book. *sigh. My first rejections were so painful that I decided I needed a little success to bolster my confidence so that I wouldn't give up too soon.

I started writing for magazines and the credits I garnered were great for my confidence, but I still don't have a picture book published. My work style is too disorganized. I flit from one type of writing to another like a hyperactive housefly with hiccups. But one thing is very clear to me, my writing is getting better. The rejections I receive are personal and that says something to me about the quality of my writing. Why is my writing improving? It is because of the way I deal with rejections. It works for me and it will work for you.

Whatever your chosen genre, when you get a rejection, read a lot of books in that genre. Nothing else I can think of will give you the "ear" you need for writing the things you want to write. If you have chosen picture books the more picture books you read the better your own picture books will be. Read them from beginning to end so that you can feel the flow, the rhythm, and the energy. After you have done that once or twice go back and read them slowly. Pay attention to structure, character, themes. Disect the elements of each book until you know all you can about what makes it good or bad. Nothing helps writing like reading. Take notes if it will make a greater impression on you.

Don't stop studying. Writers have written many books to help other writers avoid the stumbling blocks that tripped them up, and reach publication in a shorter time. Study those books! Reading just one is not enough. One of them may hold the "secret tip" you have been seeking.

Soon you will be asking, "What do I do if the answer is yes?"

(c) 2005 Sharon A. Soffe

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