I remember the bad old days when I’d stand on the curb next to the mailbox with that rejection letter in my hand and burst into tears.
For the longest time I saved them in a file, even though not a single rejection letter said more than this– “Your work does not meet our needs at this time.” Yes, I saved each letter in a file despite the fact not a one told me why the work had been rejected, indicated how I might improve my prose, my structure, my content. I didn’t even know if my submission had been read.
I saved the rejection letters despite my assumption that my submissions were, in fact, not read, that in reality what happened was this– an administrative assistant or intern opened my envelope and popped the contents, along with the half-page form rejection letter, directly into my SASE and dropped it in the mail chute.
It would take an awful lot of convincing to convince me otherwise.
You might be thinking… oh, the author didn’t do her homework. She submitted work to the wrong publisher or the wrong literary agent. Not the case. Before I made a single submission I did my homework. I studied publishers who accepted un-agented submissions in my genre. I studied literary agents who accepted submissions in my genre. I followed all the guidelines to a tee. I didn’t skimp on the synopsis. I personalized each and every letter of introduction. I never once sent more than was requested.
It didn’t matter.
A year or so before the world changed, and self-publishing became a legitimate option, I decided to burn the rejection file. Every time I glanced at it, the conscious and subconscious message I recieved was… Failure. Loser. Big fat ‘L’ on my forehead. You’ll never be published. Obviously keeping the file was counterproductive. It was like cutting off my nose to spite my face.
I pretended I kept the file around so I’d stay humble and keep working. That was a lie. I used it as a convenient excuse. “See? This is why I can’t get published. I’m not good enough.”
The first time I told another author what I planned to do she tried to stop me. She said, “But what about all the good advice they’ve given you? The critiques? Re-read the letters, they’ll help you improve.”
What advice? What critiques?
I went ahead and followed my instincts, burned every single letter. No regrets, no second guessing. I got that monkey off my back and I stopped crying. I also stopped making excuses.
I think I’m a good writer. So do my readers, most of them, anyway. I now have one book with Evernight Publishing- Come Back To Me, four books with Siren/Bookstrand- Captured, the winner of the 2011 Bookseller’s Best First Book, Anytime Darlin’, Pushing Her Boundaries and One Four All.
Even better, I have eight self-published novels and novellas on Amazon. My most recent release, Beauty and the Feast, ranked number one in free books for either two or three days… I can’t remember. It’s a damn good book.
And the road ahead looks promising. I have a re-release scheduled for early July – My Everything, the winner of the 2011 Lorie for Romantic Suspense, and coming soon I’ll release my re-written four book science fiction series, Daughters of Persephone. Not to mention the final book in what I’m now calling the Souls Trilogy – Stay, the book that will finish what Incorporeal and In the Flesh began.
I have several additional works in progress, including a mystery and a flat out amazing two-book science fiction series. Best of all, I have a fantastic support system – other authors, editors, artists. Some of us have combined resources to put out the best product we can for our readers.
A word or two or three about Amazon:
Amazon may be a behemoth, but it’s a behemoth I can use. It’s easy to upload books, to make changes and corrections if necessary, to adjust pricing, and because of the long arms of Amazon, I sell books– my own books. Amazon allows me to reach readers and markets I can’t reach otherwise. The beauty is I have control, control of covers, edits, price, freebies. I love it.
Anyone ever heard of Durga? She is a Devi or an Indian goddess who in some incarnations has eighteen arms. She is the embodiment of the creative feminine force. She is fearless, patient and never loses her sense of humor.
Who’s crying now? Not me. And I have no hard feelings.
Apparently some of us were thinking along the same lines – see this post by Stant Litore, author of The Zombie Bible – What E-Publishing Means to a Country Boy.