Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Being an Author: Rejection

Rejection is a good thing.

(Shut up... down in front!)

It is. Really. I have received rejection. It is common amidst writers. But why do I say it is a good thing?

Rejection means growth.

And I'm not just saying rejection from publishers and presses. Rejection can come in many different forms. True, that can be from a submission to a call. But it is more than that. It is when your beta says, "No, dammit! That's donkey balls!" It is when your peers say, "Andawhatnow?" It is when an Editor says anything that starts with the word 'unfortunately'.

Look at it this way:

Every time you ask someone to judge your work, you are basically putting yourself to the test.

When you fail the driving test, you buck up and try harder next time. 

Writing is the same.

When I submit to anyone - unless I pre-warn them that it is first draft type material (beta etc.) the work should be good, cleaned, polished. Hey - it's never perfect. But it shouldn't have piles of glaring errors in it. This comes from rejection.

If my tale weens a complicated path - too complicated - I rein it in next time. Try to make it easier to follow. This comes from rejection.

Rejection makes you a better writer, and that's what we all want, right?

Without rejection, you cannot learn. If you cannot learn, you cannot improve. 

My last rejection was pretty much a form letter (one that is sent to many writer's with no personal feedback). It is hard to learn from that, but if you keep getting them from a story, then perhaps it is the story. Not the people rejecting it. 

If you have received a form letter rejection it is unusual - and unlikely - that the sender with open into a discussion with you over the reasons. And to be honest, it's rarely because they don't want to tell, or talk, to you, but rather they don't want the abuse that experience tells them they are likely to receive when a fickle writer is told, "It simply doesn't make sense." I take people's opinions on board - I learn from it. Many do. 

Some writer's will turn around to an Editor and thread them a line of expletives over a genuine reason for rejection. No one needs that. So they shy away from opening a dialogue.

That's when if you want to know the truth, you must ask for it from someone else. 

I edit/proof sometimes, and I always try to be honest to a fault with feedback. Whilst it might massage someone's ego, me saying is all awesome and such, it won't do them any good. 

And hey, a rejection from me over a few lines here and there, makes for a better rejection that the one shot deal you get with a publishing house. Right? 

'Til next time...


  1. You give great feedback, Mark. The trick for a writer is knowing which feedback to take and what not to take, because even great feedback isn't always the best. LOL What to take to heart and what not to are something each writer has to learn along the way as well. All of writing can be a slippery slope if you're listening to everyone except yourself.

    I have folders and folders of rejection letters (I keep all rejections and acceptances). Luckily, now my acceptances are catching up with my rejections, which I still get!

    1. That's very true Rebecca. I find the worst thing (Mostly because I am a nice guy) is that I would never scream and shout at an Editor - I'd just love the feedback...

      And congrats! I'm not too bad on a ration either. :)

  2. I personally appreciated your feedback for, DARK DWELLINGS. When I get in the writing zone, I have a hard time thinking like an editor. And I'm still a toddler in self editing. I'll be the first to admit that. I have improved a lot, but nowhere near enough. I think some of the feedback I just didn't write what I was saying well enough. So even if I don't quite agree, I will ponder the crap out of the feedback. Kind of like looking at a chess board from all angles. "What do you mean that's a dumb move? I can mate this guy in five moves. Hmmmmmmm" So then I rewrite, and BANZINGA, I have a better sentance. Still growing though as an author, as I'm sure editors who are authors too can understand. What I don't understand is authors getting their undies in a twist when they get feedback, especially of they asked for it. I guess they don't want to be professional. But editing is like sandpaper to smooth us out. This is something I learned early on, even before improving as an author. I did a lot of reading up, and still do.

    1. Self editing is a minefield. I personally consider myself to be pretty good... until one person read my novel. I could believe the little niggling mistakes, but I was so surprised at the gaping plot holes I'd left behind.