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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Of Writing And Rejection Slips

Even big name writers still get rejection slips sometimes. I have just learned this about a writer I admire. Of course, they will almost certainly sell it elsewhere. And at least one writer friend of mine was working on a series when the last couple of volumes were turned down. Another had her whole series published, but they were not a huge success and she never sold another thing, as far as I know.

I wonder if it makes me feel better or worse about having a full time day job and having to fit my writing in where I can, to know that no matter how far you've come you can still be pushed back.

Deep down, I suspect we all say to ourselves, It won't happen to me! or at least, Let's sell this book first and worry later. We have to, and develop a thick skin, or how would we ever write again?

After selling four short stories last year, I had three rejections in a row. One of them deserved it, as I had written it in a rush to meet a deadline. The other two were for a good story which I will try elsewhere. And I know I will sell it eventually, which keeps me going. My novel was rejected by every major publisher in the country before the sudden sale to a publisher who'd originally had to reject it. My story in Mythic Resonance had been rejected years ago, before finding its perfect home.

Even selling your book, however, doesn't always mean massive sales. Crime Time, which should have sold massively, hasn't earned back its advance because of the difficulty of selling children's non fiction in the shops, unless your name is Terry Deary. Australian Standing Orders didn't want it, as they rarely take non fiction. I haven't heard of any Ford Street books sold by Scholastic Book Club. That would have sold it all right! On the other hand, Your Cat Could Be A Spy sold out, but most were Book Club sales and those don't pay much. So I never got any royalties for it. Ah, well, it's still available on POD so it might sell yet.

And yet, my education books are still selling, though overseas. My archaeology book is still bringing in royalties after about ten years. I recently found a child's review of it online! Who would have thought an education book could get a rave review?  :)

So writing is one of those things like music and acting and other arts that might work out and might not, no matter who you are. You just have to develop the thick skin necessary to a writer, no matter how well known you are.

 There are some writers following this blog. Want to comment on your own experiences with rejection slips? 


A latte beckons said...

I have a thick folder of rejection letters. Early on, an encouraging rejection letter was almost as good as an acceptance (my expectations were low).

My favourite rejection letter was for a story that I had based closely on an actual experience from my life; this was rejected on the grounds that it was 'not realistic'! It's a good lesson for a writer to learn that 'true' does not always mean 'believable'! And yes, that story did go on to find another home.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks for sharing, Kate! Reading slush for Andromeda Spaceways has been a big eye opener for me. Jane Routley tells me that a story rejected by us was later bought for $900 by Cosmos. :-)I suspect it got as far as the slushpool and simply didn't get picked up, since I can't imagine anything by Jane being rejected as such. But it's a good story.

Anonymous said...

Penelope Cottier, one of the editors of next year's The Stars Like Sand Australian specfic poetry anthology, has written an excellent post, just yesterday, on her experience of the other side of the editor's desk. It deals in some detail with the problem of crafting a letter of rejection. The url is

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Simon, will check it out. And for anyone reading this, Simon was responsible for buying two out of last year's four sales by me! :)