Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Repost: Embracing Rejection by Jess Molly Brown

My dear friend/Beta/sister-in-another-country/sanity-preserver/brilliant writer Jess Molly Brown just shared a poignant post about the power and necessity of embracing rejection. As one intimately acquainted with the story she shares, this particular post is especially dear to me. Plus, there are adorable animal gifs.

Enjoy and be encouraged!
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To get a novel published, you have to develop a thick skin, something I started to do five years ago when I began posting fan fiction for public consumption. As great as most readers are, there are those who like to flame writers. You have to learn not to let it get you down. In short, you have to be professional in face of personal attacks.
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 The worst flame I ever got was for my most popular fan fiction, “I Hunger for Your Touch.” The reviewer said, “You’re a mediocre writer. You ought to just quit and go back to your day job. Don’t subject us to any more of this crap.” Wow, did it hurt. As you can see, I still remember it and it happened 3 years ago. But then I remembered the 1500 reviews that were positive, and I didn’t quit.
I’ve been told by an acquisitions editor that the average manuscript is rejected seven times before it’s accepted. So I haven’t begun to reach my quota, and the positive feedback I’ve had on my original fiction leads me to hope that I won’t have to go through it seven times.
As many of you know, in February of 2012 I was approached by a publisher and asked to write a novel. I submitted my manuscript to them on July 11, 2012. On October 12 of that year, the senior acquisitions editor asked for changes and advised me to get a select group of friends to give feedback before resubmitting. She led me to believe my book would be accepted if I polished it up.
In November, the company restructured. The people who wanted “Moms on Missions” were gone. Nevertheless, I was asked to resubmit and did so in January of 2013.
My first rejection came July 31, 2013 and I was devastated.
Gif-Cat-shaking-the-headI honestly loved that company. The new acquisitions editor told me that they had great difficulty with their decision as they thought the characters and writing technique were excellent. The reasons they gave for the rejection seemed inadequate. First, they didn’t think readers would accept that a group of contemporary Canadian moms would band together to sneakily match make their kids (They never met my neighbours, obviously.).  Second, they didn’t think a bunch of traditional moms, aged 48 to 60, would use Facebook (I beg to differ. Statistics  prove it.).
So, I went back to the original, senior acquisitions person who told me to make changes and she very kindly told me that I had talent, my story could be great and I had to persist. She gave me more tips and I began another rewrite.
Now, if a writer wants to pay a professional editor to edit a book of 120, 000 words, the writer is looking at a bill of $2400 US per edit on average. Considering that many authors don’t get ‘in the black’ until their third novel, that’s a scary prospect. The alternative is to rely on beta editors who will do the job for free.
I’ve been very blessed with extremely talented Betas. The downside is, the process becomes much slower because they’re doing it in their free time. So yes, I probably could have had my book fit for publication a year ago, had I been able to fork out a couple of grand. But I wasn’t, and I’m very grateful to have friends who can edit for me. God bless them!
In late January of this year, I submitted a query to another publisher and received a request to see the novel eight days later. Phenomenal! So, off it went and I tried not to bite my nails. On February 19th, I received my second rejection. Now here’s the funny thing: I wasn’t devastated. I did, however, smack myself in the forehead because the acquisitions person was absolutely right to reject it.
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Yeah, you heard me. She told me that I was exceptionally talented but I’d made a rookie mistake. I set my readers up to expect a comedy romance and delivered a dramatic ending. It’s called a “bait and switch.” And I did it. I absolutely did. *smacks self upside the head*
For this revelation, I was soooo grateful. You see, the last thing I’d want to do is write a book that would disappoint my readers. I wrote back to the editor and thanked her.
I went to Hubbs with some trepidation. He wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but he gave me what is likely the most valuable supportive message I’ve ever had: You are in a career where rejection is a regular occurrence. Don’t fuss about it, keep working on it until you get accepted. Go on, get back at it!
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So, I started another rewrite the day I received the rejection notice, hoping to make the book more cohesive by removing a lot of the angst.
I see a lot of upset about rejection (including bad reviews) expressed by professional authors and hobby writers alike. It may seem obvious, but to succeed in this business, one must learn to embrace rejection and be thrilled if a publisher cares enough about one’s work to send feedback. While personal attacks are never acceptable, a negative comment is a chance to strengthen the novel.
In March, I approached three new people who kindly consented to read and evaluate “MoM.” So that’s where my baby is now. With editors. I haven’t received a lot of feedback yet, but I’m willing to be patient.
I’m not giving up.
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I’m not sure where I’m taking “MoM” next, but traditional publishing still attracts me more than self-publishing. But I have friends who are published, and the dearest of them said to me, “We will find a good home for MoM. It’s a great story and we just have to find the right fit for you.”
Are they great or are they great?
So one day, you’ll get an “I’m getting published” message from me and I will look like this:
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And then my minions will look like this:
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I do hope you’ll stick with me for that day.
Thanks so much for reading my blog and being so supportive. I heart you bigtime and I love hearing from you.
xoox Jess

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