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Be Honest: Why are you Really Not Published Yet?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Philip Overby, May 8, 2012.

  1. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I haven't pursued publishing in several years. I expected the rejection letters and by this time, self-publishing is more my thing than traditional. I'm with T. Allen in that I haven't felt ready yet. I've spent the past couple years playing around with my writing and learning about the craft. There has been no rush for me, although now I do feel ready. I'm working on a project that I'd like to publish, but the timing of the publishing depends on other factors such as editing, cover, etc. I want to do the best job I can in preparing my work for the public to see. Its exciting thinking that I'm finally ready to do this. :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2014
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    It's not even a year since I started my first novel and I don't feel that I can honestly expect anyone to actually pay for the short stories I've written.
    I intend to finish my novel this year though and when I get to that point I'll figure out how to self-publish.
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Or you bloat up and die. There are multiple possibilities here....

    Truly, though, you need to experience rejection in order to know how you are going to react to it. Finish something. Submit it. Get the rejection notice and rejoice, for you could just as well have been ignored utterly. And anyway, you already have two wins to one loss (finished - win; submitted - win).
     
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  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Well, the difference is you can't die from rejection. :) At least I've never heard of someone physically dying after their manuscript was rejected.

    I agree that finishing something is a big win. Submitting is even bigger. I guess for many people they need justification or validation that all the time they spent doing something was worth it. Perhaps that's why rejection hurts. But I spend lots of time watching movies and I don't expect anything more out of it than I can say I watched a lot of movies. Writing and submitting is something you should actually get better at as time goes on. You learn what markets to avoid, what editors may not understand what you're trying to do, learn from editors that give you feedback, etc.

    I recommend submitting your writing to markets even if you intend to self-publish. It couldn't hurt anyway.
     
  5. Sia

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    Just because publishing isn't something I have any real interest in.
     
  6. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Because it's taken me twenty years to write well. From the first stories I wrote using my spelling words for school to the stories I wrote for my senior project in high school to the stories I wrote for myself when I was out of school to the stories I wrote as projects for school when I went back to college. It took that long to learn how to write and how to write well.

    Now, I am ready and I am submitting things (and getting rejected). This year's goal is to write enough that something is accepted, even if it's for $20 and a submitter's copy.
     
  7. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I think I used to buy in to the "rejection is necessary" view. Now I'm not so sure. What I am sure of is that there are multiple ways to receive the effect of rejection and it is NOT necessary to get rejection from a traditional publishing company to grow as a writer.

    "rejection forces you to become the writer you are capable of being"

    Possibly. Much of the time it seems to force writers to become the kind of writer that publishing companies want them to be. Write the way the agents, editors and publishers want you to write or you'll never sell, is the message of trad publishing rejections. And what trad publishing wants you to be is the next Harry Potter or the next Twilight or the next 50 Shades. They don't really care about the so-called quality of your writing as long as you sell and make them millions.

    I doubt the effectiveness of such negative reinforcement to be able to force anything truly positive. The relationship between trad publishing and the writer is one of power and control and exploitation over the writer. In the end, it's only good for you if you win the lottery and become a huge bestseller by accident because then they treat you like royalty while they're trying to exploit you and at the very least if you're a huge bestseller you can afford to be exploited.

    I think becoming the writer you are "capable" of being is something only you can do for yourself. Others can support you, but it is really, ultimately and entirely up to you as a person. Every writer is different. This is the only absolute statement that can be made of any group of people. Every single member of the group is different from all the others. Every writer will have different needs, different goals, different ways of responding to feedback, etc. Trad pub has, basically, only one approach and it only works well for some writers.

    "rejection forces you to think like a publisher"

    God help the human race the day writers start to think like traditional publishers. Trad publishers are not at all concerned about what readers want to read. They don't actually think about the end reader at all, which is why runaway bestsellers are always catching them by surprise. Publishers sell to bookstores and so views the bookstore buyers (and book buyers from book carrying chains like Walmart and Target) as their customers. They do not have the end reader in mind when deciding what to publish. They make these decisions based on what they think the bookstores will want to order from them which depends entirely on what books have done well in those stores previously.

    (This, incidentally, is why the idea that trad publishing "nurtures" author careers is so totally off base. If your first book didn't sell to expectation you can expect your trad pub career to quickly go downhill from there.)

    I do think that writers need to think like a publisher, but NOT like a trad publisher. Trad publishing has forgotten that they are not the point of the book industry, that the "book" is not even the point of the book industry (the packaging doesn't matter, the content does). They have forgotten that they are middle men whose job is to connect authors with readers. They're so out of touch with readers that industry experts have often declared genres to be dead that are now thriving on Amazon. Writers don't want to think like that.

    Yes, Think Like a Publisher, but NOT a traditional publisher. Think like a small businessperson, because if you want to make a living from your writing that is what you are. Don't go into this with the attitude, "Oh, I'm just a writer. All I want to do is write. I need an agent and a publisher to take care of all that business and technical stuff." Be responsible for your career, don't put it in the hands of others.

    Back to the point, there isn't much that being rejected by someone in trad pub can tell you other than "this specific person and/or company doesn't think the story will sell well". And that is next to useless. (Look at how many editors didn't think Harry Potter would sell well.) However, being able to go direct to readers and learning from how readers respond to your work, whether the reader rejects or accepts it, is very useful. In fact, there are plenty of other places you can get the negative reinforcement of rejection, if that's something that helps you (again, all writers are different), but trad publishing is probably the worst place to get it.
     
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  8. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    ^^^^ This ^^^^
     
  9. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Self pubbed so can't really commit to the pledge, but would just like to coment on the line - "Rejection forces you to become the writer you are capable of being."

    This is crap. Sorry for the rudeness, but I don't submit to Nietzsche in any form. If it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger, is fairly much the parent of that line, and it too is utter crap. Many people survive things and don't become stronger. They may not learn from their experience. They may be crippled by it. And in the same way rejection can damage you as a writer.

    How many writers have given up because of rejection? I don't know but I'm guessing it's a lot. And I'm sure that absolutely none of them have become better writers because of it. How many writers have accepted this massive chip on their shoulder - "I wasn't published because I wasn't good enough." When the truth is there could be any number of reasons why their work wasn't picked up and mostly you don't know because you get a form letter if you're lucky. You just assume and rewrite and rewrite in the dark. That doesn't necessarily make you a better writer. And how many have found themselves a comfortable rut in writing, submitting and being rejected? They aren't becoming better writers either, they're just happier ones.

    What does make you a better writer? Getting published no matter how you do it and then being critiqued. Taking the slings and arrows. And if agents and publishers won't pick you up you really do have to look at self publishing. Yes your work may be crap. But at least you'll have someone tell you that. And you'll have a place to improve from - thus becoming a better writer. It may also be awe-bloody-som and then you'll be spitting tacks thinking how damned stupid was I to waste all those years hunting for agents and publishers. And then you'll get some kudos, feel good about your writing, and burn with excitement for writing your next book. Thus you will become an even better writer.

    So here's my version of Phil's challenge. Yes to all four steps - but modify the last one. I will try A, B and C. And then if I get nothing back I will self publish. In short I will be published no matter the means and I will then know where I stand and know where to go.

    If you want to be a better writer you have to commit.

    Sorry for the crudeness.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I am on a phone so this will be short for now but completely discrediting trad publishing seems like limiting more opportunities for oneself. Writers are best served to reach a wider readership by considering all options before them both trad and self-publishing.
     
  11. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

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    Nietzsche's philosophy isn't built on universality; it isn't interested in giving a set of dogmas and concepts. Instead, it tries to forge a philosophy about the art of living and teach man to become that which he was always meant to be : the Ãœbermensch. In this sense, he who really learned how to live, should grow stronger from his painful experience. It teaches you that no matter how much you fall, you can and should stand again, taller. These aren't just silly quotes we throw around since they look nice; they are a real life lesson we received as Nietzsche tried to teach us how to reach the Super-human.

    And as a matter of fact, I do believe he who has been rejected should feel strengthened. Because if he goes back out there after humiliation, if he goes on no matter what, well, it proves he's real tough. It proves he truly believes in his work. And that is what matters most.

    Just thought i'd clarify that, since i fiercely admire Nietzsche's work.
     
  12. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I didn't suggest completely disregarding trade publishing. I just say there comes a point when you have to decide that for whatever reason it's not going to be your friend.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  13. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Nagash,

    Not wanting to derail the thread, Nietzsche was a broken man desperately trying to deny the painful realities of his life, father a priest who died when he was six or seven, a series of ongoing unexplained illnesses that all but crippled him. His philosophy is born from these things. It is like one huge giant cry of denial from start to finish, summed up perhaps best as a cry that there had to be a purpose to his suffering, because otherwise everything he was going through was for nothing. This is seen clearly both in his concept of the overman and in his polemics against religion. (Note I use the word polemics which is really too generous to him. Had he been alive today and tried to say something like that in public he would have been hurled in jail for hate speech.)

    It is true that if you do overcome adversity you can become a stronger person in some way. It is not true that this is necessarily so. And if you examine the concept of the overman in more detail, you will realise that the being he describes is not someone to be admired. He's a self centred, narcissistic sociopath. I mean surely just the title of his work on this "Beyond Good and Evil" should have expressed this. The overman makes up his own rules as to what he thinks is moral regardless of what anyone else might think. You do not want to meet a man like that.

    As to your writer, he does not want to become stronger as a person by taking rejection stoically (at least not within the context ofthis thread.) The thread is about him becoming a better writer. And getting a rejection slip with bugger all explanation of why the work was rejected, does not help him do that. Not a fraction as much as the reviews you get from readers, the people you're writing your work for.

    Further, by not taking that leap but just endlessly resubmitting to agents and publishers, your writer is actually becoming weaker as a person. He's found he can deal easily with the rejection slips, and he expects them. That's actually a comfortable position. A rut as I mentioned before. He doesn't have to push himself out of that rut, to take the plunge into the world of publishing and face the water. Instead he can just sit at home, submitting and submitting, receiving rejection slips one after the other, and tell himself he's writing, becoming better at it.

    Look a long time ago I did learn to swim classes with all the other three and four year olds. I don't particularly remember them, but I've seen plenty of others go through the process since. And the first step is that everyone lines up on the side of the pool and practices spinning their arms and turning their heads to breathe. And in all the years since then I have never met one successful swimmer who achieved his goal simply by standing there on the side of the pool practising his stroke. Nor have I ever met one person who has ever been met by a coach while standing there who has told him you do this so well that I'm going to train you to become an Olympic swimmer. At some point you have to jump in. With a coach (agent) or without one. With your stroke (writing) perfected or not.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  14. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

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    I don't wish to derail the topic either, so I won't try to start a debate here... But I just wanted to point out some things.

    Yes, Nietzsche was definitely a broken man, not to mention a mad one in the final years, and a dull one, according to his close friend Paul Rée. And yes, most of his philosophy was the fruit of his experience as a sickly man living a tough life in a tough society; and most of what he said could have been interpreted as pure madness or some mystic delirium. Yet, having read many of his works, and not exclusively Beyond Good and Evil, in order to get a real sense of his philosophy, I believe Nietzsche never had one single and inflexible philosophy. He was a passionate man, albeit a tortured one, writing on impulses, with a semi-puzzling prose, leaving you speechless. I find it to be both dazzlingly lavish and unsettling... I read Thus spoke Zarathustra half a dozen time, and still haven't grasped it in its whole complexity and depth. Maybe it's just over me; maybe its just the gorgeous and meaningless aphorism of a heartbreaking sad clown.

    In any case, Nietzsche drove against the current of his time; anti-democrat, anti-religious... I don't know if he ever believed in these ideas he threw around in his works, or if it was simply done in order to demolish the occidental doctrine. I guess we'll never know about that. As for his over-man, i am well aware of what monster it consists of... Egotist, self-centered beyond morality, passionate (not in a good way), drunk with power... I'm not saying the Over-man is something we should aim to become; I do think however, than while walking along the path Nietzsche designed, we shall meet with a different version of ourselves. Somewhat of a middle-ground between the narcissistic and manipulated creatures we are today, and Nietzsche unleashed and untamed monster. Because in the end, the Over-man isn't just about narcissism; it's about being free. It's about being free to think, to break some of the shackles society built for us. Sure, in Nietzsche's time, it would be religion, Hegelian and Kantian morality; but it would be a whole lot different today... That's the beauty of Nietzsche's thinking; it doesn't settle in space or time; it simply is about rebelling against conventions, revolting against the current, finally learning to think on our own and stop howling with the wolves...

    In many ways, Nietzsche philosophy is juste about making your own; what he gave us, was a head start, as he brought down the monolith european culture had been living in all along.

    And to be honest, after many many pages of colorful prose, what I retain mostly of Nietzsche, is that, while he certainly faced horrible moments in his life, he had a human heart, with many weaknesses, and a true admiration for beauty. He truly loved, passionately, and cherished these little things in life we dismiss far too often.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  15. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I don't really think Nietzsche and his ideas have anything to do with this. I think traditional publishing has built up a myth around themselves that too many writers buy into, that getting rejected by trad pub is a trial that one must go through on the quest to get Published and that the gatekeepers of trad pub are the only ones that have the authority and the right to grant this honor and the only ones who can eventually grant acceptance once the writer has gone through all the trials and tribulations of the quest. Anything less, the myth tells us, wouldn't be real, wouldn't be valid. Real writers get published by a traditional publisher, everyone else is just a fake.

    I am not against the idea of licensing one's work to another company to produce and distribute it in consumable form.

    However, I am vehemently against the current established traditional publishing industry which is built up on the backs of writers, but treats them as second class citizens or worse. Trad pub has built themselves a culture of entitlement (How dare someone come into OUR industry and compete with us?), exploitation and mistreatment of writers, and ignoring the consumer. They broke the law because they felt they were entitled to and still believe they did no wrong, despite costing customers extra millions. They embrace contracts that are downright immoral with things like non-compete clauses, which can cost a writer his entire career, and other things that are probably illegal, but what mid-list writer could afford to go to court to find out? They employ what is known as "Hollywood reporting" to avoid giving the writer any more in royalties than they absolutely have to, because again, what average writer can afford to take them to court to get their fair share? The advances and royalties they offer, in general (if you're not a big shot) are pitiful, not nearly enough to let a writer make a living unless they hit the bestseller lottery, because they also want to keep writers from writing too much and their production schedules are ridiculous. And don't even get me started on agents. Then they convince writers that all this is as it should be. It's "industry standard". And the writers desperate for validation lap it up. Poor souls.

    Almost universally, this is how the industry conducts itself. If you can find a hidden corner of trad pub that doesn't treat writers like an endless supple of widgets then good for you. But I doubt it very much. Perhaps someday things will change. Perhaps the companies will be forced to change or perhaps these ones will be gone and new, smarter publishing businesses will thrive. (Amazon, for instance, treats its writers very well.) Until that day I'll continue to stand against our current publishing industry. And yes, with all due respect, I think that writers who still buy in to this system are pretty stupid. It's like willingly laying down in the mud so that someone else can use you for a carpet. It's also like gambling your entire future career on an insignificant chance to win the lottery.

    Keep your career in your hands, in my opinion. Cut out as many middle men as you can. The writer tells the story, the reader consumes the story. Everyone else either needs to work for them or get out of the way.
     
  16. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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  17. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Because I'm to lazy to put enough effort into it to even have a shot at getting publish.
     
  18. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    The rejection letters I've received have not made me a stronger writer. What has improved my skills is writing more, sharing it with my beta readers, getting feedback, continuing to learn about the craft through various avenues. Not winning writing contests bums me out more than the rejection letters, which is peculiar. But yes, improvement in my case has come from forming good writing habits and persistence. I plan on self-publishing simply because I'm already a small business owner so I prefer the Indie route. I agree with Mythopoet in that as a writer, I am also selling widgets ie books. It serves my higher purpose to know the publishing business. I wouldn't discount the traditional route if a juicy deal came along, who knows what can happen. Every writer has different needs and I do think its important to consider both options just because they exist.
     
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  19. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I completely understand this one. ^

    Also, getting rejected by assistants to the assistant editor of something bums me out more than getting rejected in 10 1/2 hours by the editor/publisher of a publication. I guess it's more flattering to be told "no" by a big name than by nameless persons?

    I also try to take the rejections as a notice that a particular story is not fitting into that specific market. There are plenty of markets to try, each wants something a little bit different than the others. So, I think that if a writer goes into submitting with the frame of mind that only that venue is worth sending something to, there may be a great deal of disappointment. If a writer uses the experience, instead, and thinks about where else to send something to there may be greater success rates.

    The worst thing that happens from being told "no" is that you learn it doesn't work for that market. You may not learn why (not really an obligation for the editor to provide feedback, but if they do accept it gracefully and learn from it!), but you do learn that somewhere it isn't working for someone. That's when you know you need to tinker with it some more.

    There's also the upside that you've submitted something. Your name is out there. The more times you do that, to as many markets as you can with almost-good-enough pieces, the better the odds are of making it.

    I am trying both routes. I'm not debating from a "trad pubs" are the only way position. I think that in my experience, how I approach business dealings (whether they're successful or not) is a good indicator of how hard I'm willing to work for it. If I only focused on the negative aspects of being rejected/not published, early on while I'm still flailing about in a story trying to figure it all out, then I'd have given up last month. And the month before that.

    And seriously, isn't the best non-monetary part the satisfaction of writing itself? I don't know how excited *happy dance* I'll be when I get something accepted and sold, but I do feel a great deal of joy when I finish something or when I make an idea work when I've been struggling with it.
     
  20. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Buyjupiter,

    Actually there are a whole lot of satisfactions to self-publishing. One of the biggest buzzes I got was early last year when I held my own book in my own hand. Now that was a surreal moment. Having fans and positive reviews is also pretty amazing -even when they all seem to be saying "do a sequel" and you simply don't have one. Watching sales tick over and achieving milestones is pretty good. And don't underestmate the money. Those monthly cheques can be a pleasant diversion, and there areplenty of self published writers who are making a living at this. I aim to be one of them by the end of the year.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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