Saturday, June 11, 2011


I've never been a fan of rejection. That's putting it mildly. I hate rejection and I suspect I'm not alone. Writers, however, get more than their share and have to get used to it or find another job.

I recently had a couple of my babies rejected. Not literal babies...that would be awful. These were just brain babies. My stories. Certainly, not every idea will make a marketable story. When remembering that's the publisher's one and only goal--sales--accepting rejection gets easier. No, scratch that. It's never easy, but it makes sense. It's not personal.

So, back in the day (am I really getting to that point in my career where nostalgia occurs? Yikes.) Anyway, once upon a time, there was nothing you could do with a rejected manuscript but use it for scrap. Then came the e-pubs. (Yay e-publishing!) They could afford to take chances on stories that were "different" and didn't have a proven track record. Sci-Fi romances, werewolf romances, etc.

If an e-pub rejected your ms. it just stayed in a file, never to see the light of day. Or, perhaps if it did, the writer had cannibalized it for scenes that were too good to abandon completely. But good e-pubs have standards, and for whatever reason, they can reject your stories too.

Today there's a third option that's getting a lot of attention. Self-publishing. I was never a fan. It required the writer to shell out money for editing, cover art, and sometimes the printing process if they wanted to make a paperback. I know what you're going to say..."Oh, but you don't have to do that anymore. You can proofread yourself, slap together a basic cover, and put it up on Kindle and Smashwords." Oy!

No, you can't. Even the best of us miss our own typos and spelling errors. Most of us don't carry the Chicago Manual of Style around in our heads and make occasional mistakes in grammar or punctuation. All of that can detract from the reader's enjoyment. When you ask for their money, you really need to provide them with some quality. Editors aren't a guarantee, but they're a darn good investment--if you can afford one.

My point is this: If you self-publish, you really shouldn't do it all by yourself. Have someone with a terrific gift for written English read it over. Don't be opposed to taking a few suggestions. If you want sales, invest in a good cover. And just because you self-published, that doesn't mean you won't experience rejection. Reader reviews tend to run the gamut these days. What one person loves, another one hates. If you're very sensitive to rejection, you might not want to read them at all.


Terry Odell said...

So true. I paid good money for professional eyes on a manuscript that was part of my series, but I wasn't sure it would fit the publisher's mold after they abandoned the original imprint. Plus, even if they had, it would see light of day until no earlier than 2013. So I got a nifty cover from a professional cover artist and hired an editor (and yes, despite countless proofreads the and excellent eyes of my crit partners, there were still errors, both in continuity and of the technical variety.

As for those who choose to bypass these steps -- well, thank goodness there's the 'free sample' option from the e-book stores.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

I loved your post, Ash! And I have to agree about rejection.

My YA fae story "The Dark Fae" has gone viral! I've done well on all my self published works, but yesterday I sold 134 copies of The Dark Fae ebook! 971 in 10 days. It had been rejected by agents twice, and I tucked it away, figuring it would never see the light of day. For a teen read, there are fewer epublishing options. Many of the ebook companies I've dealt with don't handle YA any longer because they don't sell as well. *smile*

So I self published. And I'm working on the sequel "The Winged Fae" because sales have been so phenomenal. It doesn't mean all books will take off that way. I have been writing for 15 years, and published for 10, teach online writing classes, judge writing contests, and have entered a number myself, and have several books that are published that have been doing well, so I'm not a newbie by any means. But what a thrill to learn that my rejected manuscript is finding some real success!!!

I love having the option!

Wynter Daniels said...

Great advice. Self-publishing is a whole different ballgame than it used to be. I had a manuscript that fell outside what the e-pubs considered their romance formula. So I self-published it. That book has outsold most of my other books.

Cara McKenna said...

Great post, Ash!

Ashlyn Chase said...

Terry, your experience is wonderful to hear! I'm so glad you're experiencing that kind of success.

I've also been around a while now, and rejections have been few and far between. That's why the two I had recently surprised me.

I still have a couple of options left, and one of them is self-publishing. Not my forte, so I may ask you a question or two in the future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ashlyn. You make a great point. We don't see our own errors. There's so much opportunity for writers to become published now using many different self-pub avenues. But we have to remember- the quality of the work- not just the skill of writing, but the appearance, typos, double words, etc needs to be top notch in order to be considered professional.

I just received 2 rejections this week from queries I sent in December for my debut book, Perpetual Light, which releases Winter 2012. I have to say that after the fact rejections don't feel so bad! Jordan

Christine said...

Hi Ash, That was very interesting even though I'm not a writer. You never know though someday I may get the urge to right something. lol
But If you do self publish something, it must be because you really love it, so I say go for it. But I guess it's risky when you could possibly not earn your money back huh? Whatever you do, I know you'll be sucessful! :)

Anonymous said...

That is really good to know. I know that I am writing a series and my greatest fear is being rejected. Thank you for your great advice!!
Now I have a great perspective and idea of how to get published!!

Candy Stone

Anita Clenney said...

Great post, Ash. I haven't considered self publishing yet, but if I do, I will make sure it's edited by someone other than me. I'm terrible about missing things in my manuscripts.

I'm thrilled with Terry Spear's latest success. Way to go Terry!

Amber Skyze said...

Great post, Ash! Rejection sucks big time! :)
You've made a valid point though, it's important to invest in a good editor and cover artist if you decide to self-publish.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Hey, Jordan,

Hugs on teh two rejections. I'm glad I'm not alone. Comisery loves company. (grin)

But you're absolutely right. it doesn't hurt half as much of someone else wants it. Congratulations!

Ashlyn Chase said...

Gaaa! Did you see the typos? I just made my own point. LOL.

Shelley Munro said...

Good post, Ashlyn. This is part of the reason I haven't jumped into self-publishing. Although I write fairly clean manuscripts I'm worried about missing stuff. I miss stuff all the time. :) Finding the right people to help is time-consuming too.

Terry S - I think it's great that you've done well with your YA. Opportunities are definitely few and far between in epubbing for YA. I have a friend who writes YA and she's having problems finding a home for her books, even though she's already published.

Jina Bacarr said...

Excellent post, Ashlyn, and honest, too. Sharing ideas helps everyone so thank you for doing that.

We've all been rejected--I've got the wallpaper to prove it (as the saying goes, "let me count the ways...")

Every time you send in a pitch, it's like an audition. Sometimes they want a blonde, sometimes a brunette. Bottom line is: many times the rejection is not based on the quality of the work, but the publisher's needs.

Keep going!!

Dalton Diaz said...

Ash, you always manage to brush yourself off and get up and go in a different direction when life slaps you down. I love it, and I've learned so much from you over the years.

Great advice from all here. And who doesn't love a good typo? Well, ones we catch, anyway! I've had some doozies.

Mia Marlowe said...

Dalton, I love the typos Jessica Andersen finds in her work and shares on her FB. They're always giggle-worthy, but I hate to see those kind of mistakes in print/ebooks. They yank me right out of the story. Of course, there are often errors in traditionally pubbed books too, but I think the onus is really on self-pubs to make sure the copy is as clean as possible.

I never thought I'd self-pub, but I'm considering doing so with my backlist. Anne Stuart told me at the NEC conference that it makes such business sense and there is no longer any stigma to it. So I'm weighing my options...