Paula’s Post #81 – A few weeks ago, in my latest foray into the world of ‘true confessions’, I revealed how precious few submissions to agents or editors I’d actually made lately. Following on the heels of this less than earth shattering revelation, my fellow five writers have been re-examining the whole crazy world of traditional publishing: the endless unanswered query letters and over-looked manuscripts filed away in what some colloquially refer to as the ‘big round filing cabinet (aka ‘the waste basket’).
Worse yet, the rejection letters.
Yes, just yesterday my 5writer colleague Silk, in a true confession of her own, admitted in a post entitled Selling – the writers’ bane, that her beach reading this week consists chiefly of Daniel Pink’s nonfiction book: To Sell is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. If you read Silk’s post, you know she even touched on the thorny topic of rejection citing Pink’s advice to writers to reach a state of what I call ‘tournament toughness’, by getting used to rejection by writing rejection letters to themselves.
Hmm… I’ve a bit too much to do to actually get out there and wallow around in that trough, but Silk’s post did remind me of a marvellous book I read several years ago entitled ‘Bestseller‘ by Olivia Goldsmith, author of the memorable ‘First Wives Club’.
Now, I admit that my memory of this novel is a bit hazy, but the Amazon.com site helped me remember the details of Goldsmith’s book, which features 5 intertwined storylines, one for each of the authors who has a novel set to be released on the fall list of floundering Manhattan publishing house Davis & Dash. The novel is hilarious, but the most poignant moments are reserved for the storyline featuring Bloomington, Indiana, librarian Opal O’Neal, in town to sell the 1,114-page manuscript written by her daughter Terry, who, after receiving dozens of rejection letters, hanged herself.
I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but if you’re a writer looking for a beach read of your own, I highly recommend ‘Bestsellers’.
Fortunately, none us at 5writers have gone so far as to contemplate offing ourselves (at least as far as I know). While a few tears may have been shed… a few curses may have rung out, an heirloom vase thrown… thankfully, we are a supportive group who believes in sensible self-medication (in my case, gin and popcorn) in order to handle rejection.
But the ‘R’ word is enough to scare anyone away from this avocation, and as we all know, the winds are shifting in the world of traditional publishing. And why not? We’ve all heard horror stories of best-selling authors who had their manuscripts rejected dozens of times. In fact, I’ve discovered there’s even a marvellous website called: Literary Rejections where you can read about bestsellers that were initially rejected, including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
Happily, the Literary Rejections site is mostly inspirational, with the goal of encouraging writers to persevere. But doesn’t part of that perseverance require an author do their own ‘due diligence’ to determine if in their case, there isn’t a better road to travel. Everyone of us is different. None of us, thank goodness, write even remotely similar stories. It stands to reason that ‘one size fits all’ publishing is not for everyone, even if you don’t have a 1, 114 page manuscript.
Next week, I hope to take a look at some successful authors who travelled a different path. In the meantime, maybe you’d like to share your recipe for dealing with rejection. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend gin and popcorn.