Wednesday, February 13, 2019

100 Rejections, Interesting But Not Ideal

I recently heard of the idea of 100 Rejections on a podcast. This is the idea that promotes "getting you out of your comfort zone and get your creative work out into the world." (Han). The idea is to push you into not just waiting until something is perfect to get the idea out there, but to be aggressive with your creativity.

On the surface, this sounds like a great idea. In fact, as I listened to the idea, I was thinking it sounds pretty good. There is this thought that the "law of averages" will eventually tip in your favor.

But the reality of the situation is that just throwing things out there and keeping your fingers crossed is not the best approach.

In publishing, we always hear of these statistics of how many times a certain author was rejected before being published. Authors like to use this as a motivating force to just keep trying and eventually things will click - very much like the 100 rejection theory. But when we look at these rejections, we see another side of the story that authors are missing.

As I started writing this post, I did a little searching and sure enough, there were a few nuggets out there that we need to consider.

1) Many of these rejections were for projects OTHER than the one that finally got published. In other words, check your facts.
2) Some of the people claiming rejections were for "non-responses." So if you sent something to an agent that is no longer there, that is a non-response, and not a rejection.

But let's look at the bigger picture of why that 100 Rejection things is not something you should be proud of. Let's examine why.

First of all, if you are sending out projects that are really not  ready to be published due to your lack of experience or the lack of prep-work on the story, then you should never have been submitting the project. This is not showing your persistence or your motivation to be published, in pretty harsh words, this shows your lack of education about the business or writing. In many ways, this is similar to getting rejection letters from a hospital to be a chief surgeon when you are still in high school and have not gone to medical school.

Secondly, if you are getting rejection letters because you sent projects to agents or editors who do not acquire your subject, this is not something to be proud of. This shows your lack of doing quality research. Had J.K. Rowling sent me Harry Potter, I would have sent her a rejection. Not that the series is bad, but I do not acquire the genre.

Finally, if you are sending a project to someone but your voice, style or plot is not something we represent, you will get a rejection, but again, this comes down to your lack of research. I have talked about this in the past. Many publishers acquire Contemporary Romance, but each one looks for something completely different. If you did not take the time to do your research, you deserve that rejection, but you should not be proud of it.

Taking risks is one thing and with that part of the 100 Rejection theory, I am fully backing. Taking the approach of just "throwing darts" and hoping something is going to stick is not a way to be successful in publishing, for for that matter, in any business out there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pooh's Motivation For Tuesday

I love this quote...

Pooh says, "I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been." Great thought Pooh! Thank you!

I have seen a lot of different versions of this same idea. The thought is simple. Always look forward and not behind you. Rafiki said this in Lion King and the owner of the USA Today said this in his book. It is the simple thought of forward movement.

In today's world, this thought could not be any more relevant, especially with the availability of reviews that anyone with internet access can post about your writing. Your book could be doing really well and then some "yahoo" gets online and tanks your book with terrible review. Add in the immediacy of social media and with one click, things start to fall apart.

I have talked to a lot of authors and when they open up their email to see a negative review or comment, or get an email from a disgruntled author, it completely ruins their day. All of their plans for writing have just gone out the window. Instead of thinking about their characters and that next great scene, all that is going through their heads is how their writing careers are destroyed.

First of all, remember that careers are not destroyed, unless you did indeed do something stupid such as plagiarism or an offensive comment or post. If that was not the case, this is just one person and one comment.

Move forward. Sure, go ahead and vent some! Draw a picture of what you think that person looks like (I recommend making the person really ugly) and then throw darts at the picture.

And then...

Go back to your writing. Move forward.

Things will get better.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Pooh's Motivation For Monday

On my latest trip to the bookstore, I made a quick impulse buy - THE LITTLE BOOK OF
POOHISMS. Figured I would share a few with you this week.

Pooh says, "If it's not Here, that means it's out There."

While Pooh might have been talking about Heffelumps and Woozles, I wanted to look at this in terms of building that story and how we often find ourselves facing that infamous writer's block or some dead end that we know will make this story the worst story ever.

For too many writers, hitting this point in our writing is due to writing with blinders on. You get so caught up in your story, there is no way you can see any other approach. While this focus is great IF you have a great sense of direction, for so many writers, this is just going to lead into major problems.

I have worked with several writers in the past who have struggled with this when it comes to their latest work in progress. After I had a look at it, and looking at the market, it became clear that there would need to be major revisions to make the story head in the direction of a successful book. For the author, this type of change just did not seem possible. These authors only saw their one path and could not see something else. For these authors, they were still stuck in "THE HERE" and could not see "THE THERE."

So, here are some ideas for getting out of this hole.

1) Step away from the book for a while. That "quick" time out might be just what you need. Take a weekend off. Take a quick trip to the gym and work out. Give your mind a break.

2) Talk to other people. This is the benefit of a "GOOD" critique group. I stress good here because if you are all people who see things the same way, you will not get much out of this.

3) Try something COMPLETELY different. Pick up a different project to work on. Literally start the story over and see what happens. No, you don't have to finish that new project, but sometimes seeing things that way may work.

4) And finally, you HAVE TO BE OPEN TO CHANGE. This is the only way you will make it in the publishing field. People WILL have recommendations and you WILL NOT be able to have it your way all of the time (And this includes those of you who self-publish).

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Harlequin Historicals Are Often Over-looked - Big Mistake!!

I am often frustrated when I see lists of books that are considered "amazing reads for historical fiction." While I am in no way going to say these books are not good pieces of writing, my frustrations stems from the number of reviewers and "list creators" who exclude the great writing of the Harlequin Historical authors. 

These authors are really in a tough position. Let me explain.

First of all, they are not considered a "series romance." For those of you who read Romantic Times and saw those reviews, there was always a single page devoted to
series romance, such as those found in the other Harlequin lines. I get that. These stories do not follow a "series format" of a certain type of plot, character or setting. But, these books are NEVER considered "single title". In essence, they are in this grey area between series and single title. Tough to market something like this. In any case, these books were put in with all of the other historical books (which they should be), but this is where the subjective nature of this business comes into play, and that is my second, and probably my largest frustration.

Too often, those reviewers and "list creators" will leave these books off due to one of two reasons.

The first being that they are simply "just Harlequin books." Um, no. Just because these books are published by Harlequin does not put them into that series format. These books have the same amount of depth the other stories have, and frankly, often have a lot more depth of storytelling in that 70,000-75,000 word format. Pick up many of the "single title books" and these stories are nothing more than 90,000+ word count of the plots that lack depth and become repetitive. But, since they are in that "larger format" they are somehow considered stronger pieces of writing.

Consider the following authors with great depth of storytelling..
Marguerite Kaye
Sophia James
Bronwyn Scott
Michelle Style

The second issue stems from distribution and sales. Again, these list creators often look at the $$$$. They look at sales. Harlequin had to make some tough decisions during that last recession due to a lack of "shelf space" at the bookstores (what bookstores there were left). The historical authors fell victim to this and now their books could only be found online and NOT in the North American market. These authors just lost a huge market of readers.  Just recently, they have made some pushes to put "some" books out on the shelves, but even then, these authors still struggle due to a lack of market. 

But here is the thing. These authors CAN and DO produce. 

First, they are able to do in a smaller word count what it takes these single title authors an additional 20,000+ words to do. These authors "need an additional 5-6 chapters? 

Single title authors might be lucky to produce 2 books a year. Historical authors? 3-4 and even throwing in a novella or two with collaborations. These authors also continue to fight for every ounce of space and marketing they can muster! They work as a unified force to promote each other's books. They push with huge marketing campaigns TOGETHER to get those sales up.

So, if you are 1) A Reviewer; 2) A list creator or 3) Just a reader, I DARE you, I CHALLENGE you to pick up and read one. You might surprise yourself!