Monday, June 3, 2013

Rejection As Your "New Normal"?

This is one of those times where I'm going to sound like a bitter old biddy who's been around the block a few times (a.k.a. a writer who's been published for almost a decade now!).  But this is one of those things that they don't tell you when you sign your first book contract:  To make it in this business, you need to learn to live with rejection.  I know, I know...that sounds so negative, right?  But it isn't, not entirely.  It's just part of the reality of being a writer.

But here's the thing--aspiring writers tend to think that all their problems will be solved on the day that, instead of another rejection, they finally get a YES!  Whether it's that first "Yes, I want to represent you!" or "Yes, I want to publish your book!" writers tend to think that everything will be rainbows and butterflies from that point forward.

But the reality is very different.  Life as a published author is a life of constant rejections--of learning to live with it, and learn from it.  Ultimately, you have to make peace with it, or you'll drive yourself mad.

Here's the hard truth--rejection and failure will probably become your new normal.  Once agented, your book will (more than likely) get a slew of rejections before it finds a publisher.  Once published, your book will get a least some not-so-glowing reviews, and trust me, those can feel like rejections.  You'll ask to sign at book festivals, and sometimes you'll get turned down.  You'll submit option proposals to your publisher that will get passed over.  You'll ask for marketing support that you occasionally won't get.  You probably won't hit that bestseller list you were hoping to hit.  Your sales numbers might even be a little disappointing.  Or worse, a lot disappointing.

For ninety-nine percent of published authors out there, it will most definitely not be rainbows and butterflies.  So how do you keep it from getting you down?  You remember why you're doing this:  Because you love to write.  Because you have stories to share.  Because you can't not write.

You develop the much-lauded "thick skin," and you go on about your business.  Because writing a book that doesn't net you a six-figure advance and isn't destined to become an international best-seller and a blockbuster movie isn't actually "failure," though it will certainly feel that way to you.  It's just what's normal in this business.

Embrace the new normal!


Kimberly said...

I love your attitude and the "new normal". :-) Wait!!! You mean the six-figure deal, fame and fortune, and the rolled-out red carpet at your movie opening isn't normal?
It reminds me of when I would jam out with my microphone a.k.a. a curling iron in my bedroom, thinking that music industry professionals were undoubtedly in my backyard scoping for new talent. The sad part is...I can't carry a tune.
Hopefully this profession will be a little different as I'm able to at least string some sentences together competently.
Thanks for the pep talk and the positive encouragement. :-)

Melissa Landers said...

Kristi, you're speaking my language here! I actually laughed out loud when I read "You'll ask for marketing support that you occasionally won't get." Hahaha! For me it's more like USUALLY. But that doesn't stop me from plodding onward. This business isn't for softies, is it?