Monday, July 31, 2017

When Your Story Gets Rejected, Don't Jump To Self-Publishing

Since the start of the serious self-publishing movement, I have seen a lot of authors taking an approach that might not be the best of alternatives. They started publishing their books that had been rejected.

Now, some of you might be thinking, why not do that? The book has just been sitting on your computer taking up memory space, or sitting in a drawer in a file. At least get paid and get published, right? The problem, however, is that the author has not really sat down, in a rational mindset, and determined why the book was rejected in the first place.

I fully get that many of you out there are running blind on this one. The days of editors and agents sending out a reason for the rejection, or for that matter, even sending out a rejection letter is gone. This is just a situation of the times. People seem to think that they don't need to respond unless there is a reason to proceed with that conversation. It is a shame, but that is really the topic of another post. The point being, is that there may be numerous reasons why your story was rejected, and just blaming it on the system is not the right approach.

It is that blame issue that I hear so many authors takes. "You know, my story really fits outside of the box and the publishers [or agents] are just not willing to take a chance on that." Sure that may be the case, but authors need to keep extending that argument.

Why is it outside of the box?

Is it outside of the box because it is so new and unique? That might be the case. There have been a ton of books that have gone on to be amazing, when someone took a chance on it. These were just stories at the cutting edge and the start of a trend.


The more likely reason is that this story is simply not going to be marketable, outside of your small collection of friends.

Let's explore a few other things that may be getting in the way and I'll start with the ugliest.

1) Your writing is bad. There are just many submissions out there that I have received where the writing is terrible. The only thing that would fix the story would be a match. If you are someone who is a self-taught writer, you don't know grammar that well, or writing was only a small hobby for you at one time, this might be the case. Look, writing is for everyone, but publishing is not the case. There are just some people who are not going to be able to write a good book. Unfortunately, that might be you.
2) Your story is poorly crafted. This is not a case of bad writing, but the approach you took with the story is not right for THAT story. I have spoke of that here before. For example. You write a story in 1st person and it would have been better in 3rd person. You use flashbacks and the story does not call for it. This is a plotting issue.
3) You are sending it to the wrong person. Again, I have talked about this one. Far too many authors are simply throwing darts with their manuscripts. You need to do your research and find the best fit for a story. Send it to the wrong person, who may take that genre, but hate that style, and you will earn yourself a rejection.
4) Your pitch in the query or face-to-face story is off. This is about that public persona. Many of you when you write your query letters don't stop to read it as an outsider. Would you really hire this person if you received the project out of the blue. I think many of you would reject yourself.

These are just four reasons, but I think they make a strong point. The second two rejections are the easy problems to fix and may result in positive experiences and successes if you self-publish the book. The first two reasons are the real issue.

If your story is BAD and you put that out there, you just showed the world publicly that you cannot write. Your first impression is that you are a hack writer. To add to this, some of us (the editors and the agents) do go and see what you have written. We get on Amazon. We go to your websites. And, it is there that you showed your true self and proved that your writing was indeed something that we are not going to take.

Again, let me stress, there is nothing wrong with self-publishing. It works for some of you. But it is not the solution to writing a bad story.

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