First -- and briefly -- thanks for all the support for NEEDLE. As you might know, Needle is a grand experiment at an ink-on-paper crime fiction journal. You can find out more here and buy the first issue here.
Second -- and less briefly -- what in the world is wrong with Joelle? Geez, lady. I'm guessing she musta skipped breakfast or dropped a small continent on her toe. Thanks for the buzzkill, pal.
Sure, she wants to tell you about rejections. Rejection? I don't need to hear about that.
OK, maybe she's right. About everything. Rejection stinks. Then again, acceptance rocks. And being rejected is just an early step to acceptance.
Let's look at being accepted.
1) The Grating Agent Search.
I know writers who won't let anything deter them from the agent search -- not even their lack of finished manuscripts. They've had stories published in good mags and smokin hot zines. They write good stuff. And they're finishing their manuscripts. They don't want to rush that, because they want the book to "friggin rawk." OK. Makes sense. But they have agent queries out there. "Dear Agent, I'm writing to inquire as to whether you would like to represent my 90,000 literary thriller." At least, that's the length now. When it's completed, maybe it'll be longer. Or shorter. But they want the next step done before they finish this one. But let's not worry about these writers right now. (Agents don't.) Let's look at those who have finished books and are looking for an agent.
The more I sent my queries out, the better my book became. Writing a query or synopsis is tough work. And you really can't do a good job if you don't understand your story. What's it about? Uh, there's this guy who wants this stuff and some people get in his way. Well, why does he want the stuff? Why do the other people? On and on. This isn't the place to talk about queries, but let's just acknowledge that searching for an agent makes your writing better. Which is what this is all about, right? So Huzzah, etc for the agent search. You have to understand your book. You have to have a smoking hot first fifty pages.
Searching for an agent might seem tough and, at times, futile, but you're making a better book. And then you find agents who are interested in what you've written and want to talk to you about it. Before my agent and I sent our signed sheets of paper back and forth to each other, I'd sent in queries and first fives and first fifties and full manuscripts to agents. I'd worked on what each agent said. This doesn't appeal as much as I thought it did. Someone didn't like this character. This plot element seemed wonky. So I kept working, making the book better.
Then I completed the agent search. Sure, I had plenty of rejection. But it's kinda like that Thomas Edison line. I never failed. I just found 20 ways that didn't work.
2) The Even Greater Editor Search
Same thing here. Each time an editor says, "I like Weddle's writing; I just don't like this writing," then I have to look at the book. And, as with the agent search, I have to decide whether I want to change whatever it is that THEY don't like. Sometimes, yeah, it could be clearer if I explain this a little more. Sometimes, though, if someone suggests taking out this element, that tells me I haven't made that element powerful enough. "I don't see the point of this character" means get rid of the character or add more to him.
And if 837 editors say "no thanks" to the book, it just means that when #838 gets a look, the book is going to be better.
3) The Reviews
Have you ever read a bad review of a book and then bought the book anyway? I have. Sometimes I think that the reviewer sounds like an asshat. You know, the kind of jerk who confuses being snarky with being mean?
Ever read a good review of a book and skipped the book? I have. Something in the review tells me that the book isn't for me. You know, if the description of the book doesn't warn you that a cat solves the crimes? Yeah, if the reviewer says how cool this is, I'm moving on to something else, even if the reviewer likes it.
And sometimes the points the reviewer thinks are negatives are, to me, positives. Maybe the reviewer didn't think the setting worked. Or thought the plot was too much. Or thought a sub-plot should have been tweaked more. Or thought that the violence was too graphic.
I'm not saying good reviews aren't important. What I am saying is that I don't rely solely on reviews. And, more to the point, sometimes I read a review and still manage to think for myself.
So a bad review? Feh.
So, Joelle, what else you got? Oh, yeah.
4) "This isn't your best work"
Yeah, that one's gotta hurt. Your current editor changes the locks, usually because your numbers for your first two books weren't good. Kiss of death, right? Better to have no agent than a bad agent. Better to have no books out than books with poor sales. Well, OK. But what about those imprints that aren't such a good fit? Maybe you're not getting the attention you need from your current house. Heck, maybe you're really not doing your best work.
So you get dropped. I have no idea what this is like, but I imagine it sucks. Maybe it's like a divorce. I don't know.
But maybe you do need to be elsewhere. Maybe your numbers weren't good because it wasn't a good fit. Or maybe the editor was no good. Maybe your book wasn't your editor's best work. You make changes. You compromise. Then you rack up credit card bills driving to 20 bookstores in a month to promote yourself. Yeah, maybe this wasn't your best work. Maybe you should move on. Sounds like a good idea. Chances are, thousands of readers have already accepted you. Now's a chance to find a better platform for your books.
So let's run through this.
When you're getting rejected by agents, you keep working on your query, your synopsis, your first fifty. Good for you.
Rejected by editors? You and your agent are now a team. Now you're working on your book, making it better.
Reviews? Yeah, nice if they're good. Sometimes it doesn't matter if they're good. And many times it doesn't matter if they're not so good.
Dropped by your editor because things aren't working out? Uh, things aren't working out. Look elsewhere. Sell directly to readers. Go Kindle or iPad or a dozen other ways. You've sold books. You need a reboot. Now's a good time for that.
Sure, you can get depressed. Hell, we're writers. It's what we do. But rejections are just part of acceptance. You build, improve. Your work gets better. And that's what it's all about.
Right? Rejection makes it all better?