Perseverance Is The Key!

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTI wrote this blog a few years ago, but for you newbies who haven’t been around that long, I thought it was worth another go round. Hope this offers some encouragement, and a reminder to never give up. For those like myself who have walked around the block a few times, I hope this puts writing into perspective for you as well. I know how easy it is to become discouraged.

I received two rejections this week, and while they were nice well written form letters, that’s what they were. You know the ones that thank you for considering their agency, and assure you that they will give your work a thorough going over before they make a decision. And then they add, if you haven’t heard from us in two weeks, assume we are not interested, and your work isn’t a good fit for us…

I have to admit besides being a little disappointed, I was skeptical and mad. I’ve put a lot of work into my manuscript. I’ve edited so many versions, that it doesn’t even look like it’s former self.  It really is that much better than the original completed work. So what’s the problem?

I’ve heard over and over not to take it personal. It’s business, and truth be known, it may have nothing to do with your manuscript. If there are no obvious flaws with your work, send it out to other agents. Just because you were rejected by one agent, doesn’t mean you will be by the next.

The New York Times best selling author of “The Help”, was rejected by 60 different agents. You read that right. Her 61st attempt was a success. The book was on the best seller list for the entire year and eventually made into a movie.

So why do books get rejected?

Maybe your manuscript just isn’t ready.

  • The author can’t format, spell, and doesn’t understand grammar. The result is  incomprehensible sentences that leave the reader confused, pulling them completely out of the story.
  • Dragging dialogue, head hopping, poor character development, plot holes, info dumping…
  • Maybe your work isn’t that bad and with competent editing, it’s publishable. Staff editors don’t have the time and sometimes don’t even have the necessary experience to clean your work up. Hire an editor before you send your manuscript out for consideration if self-editing isn’t an option.

Maybe your manuscript is ready but….

  • The agent/agency has an abundance of the genre you just submitted, and they are not accepting anything new in that genre until their inventory decreases.  You really weren’t a fit for what they were looking for.
  • Maybe the agent/publisher reviewing your work is in such a bad mood, they would turn down  Nicholas Sparks “The Notebook”,  even if it was handed to them on a silver platter – twenty four did. Agents make mistakes.
  • Maybe the storyline/subject matter you’re writing about isn’t selling right now. Zombie books are getting old. People want something new.
  • The publisher could literally be in a cash crunch, and no matter how great your book is, they can’t purchase it right now. They have a freeze in place until some books start selling, and they can build up their reserves.

What I’m trying to say, is there are a lot of reasons books get rejected, and they may have nothing to do with your work. I’ve read more than once, that perseverance is the key.

If you have a great, publishable piece of work, don’t give up, submit it to other agencies for review. If you have less than perfect work, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Don’t expect someone to fix it for you. They won’t.

Don’t give up!!!

-Jan R

Perseverance Is The Key!

What’s Your Biggest Obstacle-Revisited

signsmall_thumbWriting can be both rewarding and frustrating. I’ve been around the block a few times and have had my share of rejections. Don’t judge me, get used to it. If you are out to write that best selling blockbuster, and I’m cheering for you, you’re going to have to develop some tough skin.

I’ve stated in previous blogs, that there are a lot of reasons why your manuscript was passed over, and many have nothing to do with the manuscript itself, but I thought it would be nice to hear it from an agent.

You just submitted a query for an awesome piece of work. You’ve had several agents request full manuscripts and one even gave you a call, but just like that it was over. What happened?

You may have submitted an amazing piece of work, but the submission before yours hit the ball out of the park, and the one after yours did likewise. Those two works raised the bar and affected the impact you novel had on the agent.

Maybe you presented a very well written novel, but the market is saturated with the genre you are offering. Agents may have manuscripts for the particular genre you submitted on hold for the next few seasons.

You made it to the personal phone call. Where did you go wrong? Maybe you were missing the synopsis or logline for your next novel. Agents don’t want to just sell a book, they want to represent a career. Another guess would be that you were resistant to editorial thoughts presented by the agent.

The biggest obstacle one can have in getting a novel published is quitting. If you’re going to do a little bit right, have that little bit be the fact that you don’t quit. – Barbara Poelle, agent

Something to think about.

-Jan R

What’s Your Biggest Obstacle-Revisited

Surviving The Sting

imagesX0EBMH1NI write a lot about rejection because it’s a part of life if you’re an unpublished author seeking a literary agent or publishing contract. Many would-be authors allow a simple rejection to end their attempts at writing. Their thought – I must not be good enough. Well maybe that’s true, but odds are it is not.

Manuscripts are rejected for numerous reasons, and many have nothing to do with your work. So what are you supposed to do if you receive a rejection?

  • Admit it hurts.
  • Allow yourself time to grieve, but never take more than a week.
  • Nurture your artist. Read a good book, take a walk, eat some chocolate… TLC is a good thing, but don’t wallow in self-pity.
  • Share your news and disappointment with close friends and family who will understand and offer encouragement.
  • If you must, write a rebuttal to the editor or literary agent, but don’t send it. Tear it up and throw it in the trash. Your only response should be a thank you for their time and consideration.
  • Just because your work wasn’t right for that particular editor or agent, doesn’t mean it won’t be right for another.
  • Remember just because it isn’t ready for publication, doesn’t mean you can’t make it publishable.

A writer not being able to deal with rejection, is like a doctor not being able to deal with death. It’s going to happen, and like successful authors, you will have to learn to live with it.

-Jan R

Surviving The Sting

Unrealistic Expectations?

expectation-vs-reality-tumblr_m60u61r61j1r9in54o1_500_large-from-weheartit-comYou’re an aspiring author. Your ultimate goal is to find a great agent and get published. Who doesn’t want to be the author of that blockbuster book/movie of the year with a million-dollar payout?

Newbies have a tendency to set unrealistic expectations. I’m not saying you won’t achieve your goal, but odds are, you’re going to have to start at the bottom and work your way up like the rest of us.

I’m not trying to discourage you. You can do this. I’m just trying to help you set realistic goals. I want you to be prepared not only for successes but the failures that you will most likely incur along the way.

There are some things you can and should be doing as you build your platform and prepare that first novel for publishing.

  1.  Get your life out of the way. You don’t have control over everything that goes on around you. We all have situations that arise. Don’t allow them to impede your daily writing time.
  2.  Find a trusted friend or spouse who will listen and respond intelligently. You need a cheerleader/an accountability partner.
  3. Until you become successful, write in one genre. Once you’ve achieved success, you can spread your wings and venture into different areas.
  4.  Don’t be picky about where you get published initially. Use your experience and publications to build on new ones. You will get there.
  5.  Learn what’s selling. You want to cater to your customers.
  6.  Develop tough skin. You will probably hear a lot of things you don’t want to hear. Everybody has an opinion. Let it roll off your back!
  7. If a bad review holds merit, adjust your writing and admit your mistakes. This is a learning process. You won’t get everything right the first time.
  8. Don’t give up! The number one characteristic of successful authors is as you probably guessed, they’re persistent. Don’t allow a bad review or hateful word to get in your way.

Some things to think about 🙂

-Jan R

 

 

 

Unrealistic Expectations?

Need Motivation To Write?

a31a6f5f02dd05c74298a2b61d753962.jpgWe all need motivation and encouragement to write sometimes.  Especially when it feels like we’re spinning our wheels and not getting anywhere. Are you worried about taking too long? I’ve been at this for seven years.  I feel like a pro but I still don’t have a published novel to show for it. I recently ran across an article that made me feel a little better about my situation. Thought it might offer some encouragement to my readers as well. It listed best selling Authors who took more than five years to publish their work.

  1. Margaret Mitchell took 10 years to write Gone With the Wind.
  2. Maya Angelou took 15 years to write the final volume of her autobiography.
  3. J.K. Rawling took 5 years to just plan the story of Harry Potter-her extensive notes included biographies of each character and plot diagrams.
  4. J R R Tolkien took 7 years to release the Hobbit and another 16 to release the sequel.

For those of you who may be a little shocked at these numbers, the average amount of time it takes to get a novel written and published is 7 years.  Don’t beat yourself up for slow progress.  Just keep typing one word after another and you will get there. And for those of you that get your book finished and published in less than 7 years, I say good for you!

Suggestions that may help keep you motivated.

  • Create a writing schedule that really works for you. If there’s a time you’re naturally more creative, like when you first get up or when everyone has gone to bed, then that’s when you should be writing.
  • Remove all distractions. Switch off your electronic devices.  Remember you are writing not socializing on facebook or twitter.  All it takes is one good distraction to make you lose your train of thought and that great idea you had a few minutes ago.
  • You need an accountability partner.  It could be your spouse or friend.  Share your writing dreams with them.  A real friend will support you in your venture.  We all need a cheerleader or two to keep us motivated and writing. Mine is my husband.  Every day he asks me how my writing is going.  That’s all I need to keep me moving forward.
  • Write! Write! Write! even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Remember the first draft is the first draft.  Give yourself permission to err. Don’t bog yourself down with editing.  Get it down then get it good.  Just make sure it’s great before you submit it.

I hope this post was helpful.

-Jan R.

Need Motivation To Write?

Are You Sure You Want To Write A Novel?/ Revised

Unknown3If all you want to do is write, go for it.  You don’t have to get permission or a license.  All you need is a pencil and paper or maybe a computer depending on how serious you take your endeavor.

Many professionals recommend that you start out small.  You could write an article for the local paper, a magazine, and even consider a blog. These avenues not only improve your writing skills but builds up the resume that you will need later when approaching an agent/publisher.

If you do want to write a novel, you should know it’s hard work. Those people who say, “Anybody can write a book, how hard can it be?” They’ve never written a novel and most definitely never had one published.

You have to research, outline, draft, and redraft, not to mention the countless revisions.  I have probably done a complete revision of my book 4-5 times.  I’ve lost count, to be honest, and these revisions don’t include the numerous times I’ve reworked scenes or random sentences that didn’t read well. Did I mention combing it for grammatical and structural errors? That’s a lot of fun, especially if you aren’t an English major.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to stop writing to google simple questions on grammar.

Another thing to keep in mind, your first novel probably won’t be a masterpiece. This is true of every writer of every first novel. That does include Nicholas Spark and J.K. Rowling. Keep in mind you are learning the craft as you write. You will need to understand how to work dialogue, pace your book, construct a plot that is plausible and cohesive, build tension, and create characters that your reader likes and can relate to. Experts say it takes about 10,000 hours of writing to prepare you to write a publishable novel.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone. I just want to make sure you know what you are getting in to.  Most books take 5-10 years to get published.  I’m on year 7 so maybe I’m approaching the finish line.  I sure hope so.

If this is what you want to do, improve your skills by reading and writing. Yes, you need to read. I would also recommend that you take classes, attend seminars, and join writing groups (Scribophile.com, WritersWrite.com).

You will get there. The biggy is DON’T GIVE UP!

-Jan R

Are You Sure You Want To Write A Novel?/ Revised

Stand Up To The Challenge

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTI’m a procrastinator. At least I am when it comes to writing. I know that sounds bad, and I know that it has held me up. I’ve been told by agents as well as published authors that the key to success is simple. Don’t give up!

We don’t start out thinking I’m going to give up. It festers and builds slowly in our psyche and often we don’t even realize it’s happening.  We begin to procrastinate. We lose interest, get tired, or become discouraged. Nothing seems to work. Allowing any of these feelings to take root, can all but terminate a work in progress.

We move on to another project thinking we need a break but never return. This may be a good idea in some instances, but a lot of times this break is used as an excuse, an escape if you will from our fear of failure.

I’m embarrassed at times to tell people how long I’ve worked on Always and Forever. Why has it taken so long? I’ve allowed myself to become discouraged. I have taken breaks – sometimes necessary, but other times to get away from a project that has become overwhelming to me.

I’m at the point where I have to decide what I’m going to do. We all have a limited amount of time. Am I going to waste mine procrastinating and running away from things I want to do but don’t because they appear to be too hard, or am I going to stand up to the challenge and face my nemesis head on?

My decision is to stand up. I hope yours will be too.

-Jan R

 

Stand Up To The Challenge

Perseverence-Revisited

Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTSince my adventure began six years ago, I have read numerous stories from well known authors about their journey to becoming published. I put so much time and effort into my craft I couldn’t help but feel discouraged, and I wondered what I was doing wrong. It helped and encouraged me to know that I was not alone but in great company.

The one common theme in all of their stories was perseverance. The agent that worked with me on my book, always ended her critiques with don’t give up. Perseverance is the one characteristic that all successful writers have.

If you have a high quality, marketable piece of work, persevere and you will eventually find an agent and get published. Kathryn Stockett wrote The Help over a five year period of time, then had three and a half years worth of rejections. 60 in all. It was agent 61 who took her on. The book spent 100 weeks on the best seller list.

Other notable Authors who suffered rejection:

  • Richard Adam’s Watership Down 17 rejections
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune  20+ rejections
  • JK Rowlings’  Harry Potter 12+ rejections
  • Nicholas Sparks’  The Notebook 24 rejections.

I hope you are getting the picture.  Revise, edit, do what you have to do to make your story great and don’t give up.

Hope this offered a little encouragement.  I know how disheartening it can be to send your baby out and have it rejected. Don’t take it personal and don’t give up.

-Jan R

Perseverence-Revisited

Are You Muddling Through The Middle?

beginmuddleend4When you write a novel, one of the things you’re probably going to experience, is the mayhem in the middle. You have a great story idea, with a great beginning and a great ending. The only problem is, you haven’t thought about what happens when you get to the middle.

That’s exactlly where I’m at in the process. I completed going through and editing my rough draft yesterday.  I then reflected on what I had written. I love the beginning and the end. There are some great moments in the middle, but something is lacking. I’m muddling through the middle.

Most people who fail to complete their novel, become lost in the middle. They bail when they realize they don’t have enough cool stuff to fill the pages. They may attempt to add scenes, but become bored, and know readers will be too.

Every book becomes a challenge a few chapters in. Trying to keep up the tension and pace gets harder and harder. But don’t panic or do anything rash, like give up.

What can you do? If you’re one of those people who hasn’t developed an outline, thinking it would just come to you as you muddled through, maybe you should consider backing up and doing one. That’s were I’m at now.

An outline to set every scene gives you a blueprint of what will happen next. If the action starts to wane, think about a subplot or introduce tension between your main characters. Maybe there was a misunderstanding, or maybe that one minor character that was suppose to be the good guy, isn’t what he appears. Maybe the butler did it, but nobody knows.

You can have so much fun with subplots. Just keep them believable and resolve them all in the end.

Hope this helped.

Jan R

Are You Muddling Through The Middle?

I Thought I Knew A Lot, Until I Learned A Little.

Enough already! At least that’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve been through my book more times than I can count. In my own defense, no one taught me how to write. I had a great story idea and decided to give it a whirl.

I thought it was ready, and then real life happened.  My wonderful work was rejected by the five agents I sent it to. One of the them must of seen something promising, she took it upon herself to provide me feedback about what I was doing wrong (there was a long list), and what I needed to do to improve my work.

I was totally humiliated. Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable. Even I should have gotten those right. I could understand  my issues with head hopping and on-the-nose-writing. Those terms were totally foreign to me.  I wasn’t a professional novelist. I thought all you had to do was put words on paper and create a wonderful story that everyone wanted to read. How was I to know there were rules?

And what was the deal with dragging dialogue? My people were talking. How was I suppose to know dialogue moved the story forward, or had to have some significance?  I couldn’t believe I sent an agent such inferior work!

When you’re a newby, you don’t know how bad your work is, because you lack the knowledge and skills necessary to produce publishable work. While there may be a few prodigies out there, chances are, you aren’t one of them. Sorry!
Like myself and many others, you’re going to have to pay your dues and learn the craft. Then you will be ready to write that New York Times best seller.

One of my favorite saying is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not sure were I picked that up from, but it’s true. I wasn’t intentionally sending out bad work. I just didn’t know.

I Thought I Knew A Lot, Until I Learned A Little.