Have you received rejection after rejection? Have your critique partners torn your manuscript to shreds? Has your editor told you to rework the book because it’s not ready? Discouraging, right?
You poured your heart, soul, and tears into this baby, and nobody likes it? Or worse, your beta readers loved it, but your critique group or editor doesn’t. How can that be when so many other people raved about your work?
There’s a difference between a friend or relative reading your work and someone who was asked or hired by you to critique your manuscript. Your loved ones want you to succeed and probably don’t have the heart to tell you the book you wrote isn’t as good as the bestselling novel they bought last week. Or they might wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to your stories because they, like you, imagine your future success.
There’s a reason people in the industry, be it authors, agents, or editors, tell new writers to have other writers and/or a freelance editor read your manuscript before you submit to an agent or self-publish. Writers, and certainly freelance editors, have trained eyes. They know their craft and the “rules” writers should follow when creating the next bestseller. They understand that not only is writing hard work, but a writer should be open to continuous learning. Even bestselling authors will tell you their writing has improved over the years. In fact, some are embarrassed by their first published novels and won’t re-release them.
That being said, it still hurts when anyone rejects your work, especially if you were given false hope because some well-meaning individuals praised a novel that wasn’t up to snuff. Reality can feel like a slap in the face or a wake-up call. If someone in the industry says your story needs work, it probably does. But instead of letting that bad news crush you, use that pain, anger, and frustration to fuel your passion to learn more about the craft and improve your writing.
If you’re so discouraged you want to quit writing, you need to read what agent Kristin Nelson said on her blog once upon a time:
“Where a writer is now is not where he/she might be a year from now. I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years and have heard many a keynote speech from hugely bestselling authors. In their keynotes, they often will relay a story where an editor or an agent told them it was hopeless—to never write again. But here they are, X many years later on the bestseller list. Uh-huh. Where you are now is not where you may be in the future. Why should I discourage you if writing is your passion? If you’re planning to stick with it, then you’ll work on craft until you get it or until you discover that the cost of getting it isn’t worth it to you.”
Granted, some folks will never learn the craft. Just like some people simply can’t learn to sing. It’s just not in their genes. The only way to figure out if writing is for you is to keep plugging away. If you haven’t had the light bulb moment yet, where your path is suddenly clear, you will. The point is to not give up. Keep taking those writing courses, reading how-to-write books, and having your work critiqued by a writing coach, freelance editor, or fellow writers. Who knows? You might be a bestselling author one day. Isn’t that worth all this pain? I think so.