Give Up: You’ll Never Be Published

With self-publishing on the rise, you can now bypass the traditional route, but there are still some of us out there that prefer the “submit, submit, submit” method.

So why won’t you get published either way?

Well, let me tell you, young grasshopper.  It could simply be that you’re not finishing anything.

Here are five reasons why:

1. You Quit Too Easily

Stop quitting. So what if you have writer’s block? I eat writer’s block for breakfast. It tastes horrible, but I’d rather have it in my digestive system than inside my frontal lobe. Just because something sucks or isn’t working at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t hammer it out in your later revisions.

Feel like quitting on your novel? Imagine that writing your novel keeps you alive. You can’t just quit breathing, right? You’ll die. Or you’ll become some really irritated ghost that stands in people’s bathrooms. So don’t quit your novel. If you push through, you may find something awesome about it you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

You need determination and perseverance to be a writer. If you don’t have the endurance for hard work, go dig a hole in your back yard. Go on, do it. Did you finish?

If you did, then good, you can finish your novel. If you gave up half-way through, then maybe you don’t have the perseverance to become a full-time professional novelist. A real novelist can dig a hole even if it leads nowhere. But afterwards, she’ll find something to do with it: plant a garden, bury dead goblins, or fill it full of basilisk horns.

2. You Get Creative ADD

You don’t quit necessarily. But you get distracted too easily by a better, easier idea. Maybe you don’t feel like finishing your saga about the agricultural cycles of frost giants. You want the frost giants to go crush some villages and cause some havoc. But then you don’t want frost giants, you want vampiric ogres. Therefore you never finish what you’re working on and never get published.

If you get a great idea, stick it in a jar and screw the lid back on. Whenever you finish your current Work in Progress, then, and only then, you can open the jar and let your little butterfly of an idea fly out. Some people suggest writing your ideas on a Word file. Sure, you can do that too, but that may tempt you. So don’t put it on your desktop. Put it in a folder titled “f4kwl932fa.” Then you won’t know what the hell it is so you won’t be tempted to open it.

If your novel really, really, really sucks, then yeah, go ahead and quit. But you may regret it. Like that old boyfriend or girlfriend that got away. And if you try to re-kindle that relationship later, (your old, discarded novel) it’s not going to be the same.

Finish it while you’re excited and passionate about it. Maintain that passion by making it a story that is full of things you love about fiction whether it be sword-fighting dogs, romantic pirates, or the assassination of penguin kings. Whatever you dig, fill your story full of it. Then you won’t get as distracted by a new, shinier idea.

3. You’re a Hobby Writer

“Well, I don’t really care if I ever get published.”

Well, this article’s not for you. Moving on.

4. You Are Never Satisfied

There comes a point when you have to realize you can’t draw the perfect circle. No book is perfect. Think of your favorite writer. Is he or she perfect? No. No one’s writing is perfect. But you can get it as close to perfection as you can.

Like rearing a child, you can only do your best before sending them out into the world. You’ll have joyous years where your child is a beautiful, wondrous, obedient angel. But then you’ll have years when you wonder what happened to your sweet little baby. Staying out late, partying, stealing money from your wallet or purse, burying goblins in your garden.

Your novel is the same. It’s not going to always be what you envisioned it to be. You have to write it to the best of your ability, revise it, then send it out. Then call it every so often to see how it’s doing. “Hey, novel? How’s college? Are you eating properly?”

Being a perfectionist is a good thing in some regards, but worrying about every small detail of your writing isn’t going to get your novel finished. One thing about a published novel, self or traditional, is that someone decided that even though it’s not perfect, it will entertain people out there in the world. Let your novel/baby go out into the world and find its way. Let it be a success in the way that you formed it, warts and all.

5. You Fear Rejection

Everyone fears rejection. It’s not good to hear someone say “Your writing isn’t quite there.” What does that really mean though? It means that one editor decided that your writing isn’t quite there. Does that mean it’s not? No, it just means “it’s not for them.”

Compare rejection of your novel to rejection at a dance club. Sure, the first couple of hotties that you try to pick up may not be interested in your “game.” “Oh, you’re writing sword and sorcery? Ew, no thanks.” “Yeah, I usually go for steampunk, but you’re not really my type.” Editors are people too. They’re not evil robots looking to reject all your work. They want you to give them something they can sell. Put your best foot forward, but don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t attract attention the first time out.

Rejection makes me feel like a writer. It doesn’t hurt me anymore. One time someone shot me right in the face with rejection, but I’m made of liquid metal so I healed rather quickly. It’s just part of the game so to speak. Go on. Get rejected. It won’t kill you. Maybe it will maim, cripple, or mentally scar you, but it won’t kill you.

So if any of these issues have caused you problems in your path to get published, then beat them on the head and keep writing. The only way you’ll get published is if you finish and submit.

Let’s Share Our Experiences

What are some of your constant pitfalls in your quest to become published?

Or if you are already published, what was the key factor that helped you bite the bullet and get your work out there?

Share in the comments below!

You can find Phil’s blog about Japan, writing, pro wrestling, and weird stuff at philipoverby1.blogspot.com.

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Cathleen Townsend
5 years ago

Excellent post! I’m learning the hard way to hang on to the core of my book. Sifting critique is a complex skill that I’m still mastering. 🙂

Sarah
6 years ago

One of the most common problems myself and other author friends are facing today is the fact that publishers want to receive manuscripts that are as close to a finished product as possible. A few years ago, publishers were willing to work with a talented author on a ‘structural’ edit, which could mean restructuring the text, reworking the plot or characters, and just spending more time refining the work in general. However, now in the age of what seems like almost ‘instant’ publishing, publishers have ridiculous deadlines, as well as smaller budgets to work with. This unfortunately leaves a lot on the author’s plate to deal with before there’s even a mention of a contract.
I sent my debut novel out to publishers earlier this year, and received a surprising amount of interest – however, the two main publishers came back with a tonne of feedback, asking me to rework certain sections of the manuscript. As a first time author, I was under the impression that this was what I would be doing with an editor (and I would have been right, if I had of done this a number of years ago).

The challenge with this, is that I’m too close to the text. I’ve worked with it too long to recognise the weak spots myself. Now, the author (who already hasn’t had any income from this project) must pay for a freelance editor to work with them before they send their manuscript out. It’s these expectations that I find the most challenging to get my head around. 

What I have found useful is being a contributing member of a writing community, not only does this help my sanity (knowing I’m not alone in my struggles) but it also looks great on my writing CV, which many publishers ask for. I regularly publish work at Writer’s Edit (http://www.writersedit.com/category/resources-for-writers/) which two publishers have shown interest in. That would be my advice while you’re trying to get published, keep contributing to the community and keep writing anyway.

Philip_Overby
7 years ago

@Skye Life sometimes gets in the way of course. I always find the key is to set aside time every day no matter how busy things get. If you have to, lock yourself in a room for 30 minutes and force yourself. I’ve always viewed rejections as a sign that either a. I’m not there yet or b. this isn’t the right market for me. As a writer, I believe in always trying to learn new things. When you stop learning and get stuck on a certain way of thinking, it definitely limits potential. Glad to hear you’ve pushed forward and made writing your number one priority. I’m at that same point too and things seem to be looking up. Good luck to you!

Skye
Skye
7 years ago

I don’t suffer from any of those issues (luckily). My biggest problem has been being distracted by having a wild life, not to mention scores of relationships that have previously taken up all my time and effort up until last year. But I will say this: I’ve written 2 full length MSS and I’m in the middle of 2 others. I started sending out work about seven years ago – after seven rejections, I quit and got distracted by other things. But I kept on writing all through those years. Last year, I sent out query letters, first few chapters, etc – about 35 rejections came back since then. But I’m still going. Why? Because somewhere deep down I know it’s going to happen one day. I can’t say where this faith comes from but I know it’s there and I’ve known ever since I was a little girl. When I chose to put my writing as a number 1 priority last year and turn my back on all the other stuff that was dragging me down, I could feel myself getting closer to my goal. That’s why I keep going, no matter how many times I get rejected. I believe I can do it. And so should you.

Beida
Beida
8 years ago

 @evalewis Rejection is not something I worry about, but that’s probably because I haven’t even gotten to that point yet. I think I have a kind of I’ll-cross-that-bridge-when-I-come-to-it attitude. For now, I can just sit back and fantasize about multiple publishing houses battling over my story! 🙂

Beida
Beida
Reply to  Beida
8 years ago

@evalewis No, no! You didn’t disappoint me at all! I was just saying that since I haven’t reached a point where anything I’ve written has been completed to the point of being ready for other eyes, I can still live in my little fantasy world of being published. You know, that world where everything I write is critically acclaimed and everyone thinks I’m a genius!! 😀

wynnara
wynnara
8 years ago

Creative ADD right here. Guilty as charged. Been working on the same story for SO MANY YEARS, but always coming up with better ideas or better ways to tell the story.  Great article. A good reminder of those best-of-intentions pitfalls. 

SeanDavid
SeanDavid
8 years ago

I have adult ADD and know if I don’t stick with an idea, I will veer off onto who knows what. I have started more novels than I care to think of but I’ve never finished one. Maybe, just maybe, one day I will finally get one finished. 

Lyrie
Lyrie
8 years ago

Perfectionism and fear of rejection are my two biggest issues.  Even as I’m writing, I have to try and write fast enough to keep the little “You can’t do this.  You suck” voice from catching up and stopping me.  

Beida
Beida
8 years ago

I get writer’s block and give up, but I also have a problem with distractions. Both of those issues work together to beat me down. I know I need to overcome it if I ever want to finish anything.

Kristiana
Kristiana
8 years ago

Sometimes it’s just one doesn’t feel good enough. I know a friend who has a well-known, highly acclaimed writer in her family. She wants to write, does write but always stops short at the publishing phase. She knows she’ll never measure up to her relative.

Lyrie
Lyrie
Reply to  Kristiana
8 years ago

 @Kristiana That must be very difficult for her.  I think she should go for it and try publishing anyway, but I can see why she is so anxious about it.

SherylKaleo
SherylKaleo
8 years ago

@MadStoryteller So cool; thanx for mad article on giving up in writing.

MadStoryteller
MadStoryteller
Reply to  SherylKaleo
8 years ago

@SherylKaleo No problem! ^.^

MadStoryteller
MadStoryteller
8 years ago

My problem is that my stories always change in my mind.  Themes morph and characters become different people.  When this happens, I tend to mold the whole story around it, forcing myself to rewrite a vast portion of my already written part.

BookSquirt
BookSquirt
8 years ago

@mentalmosaic Liked the article. 🙂

mentalmosaic
mentalmosaic
Reply to  BookSquirt
8 years ago

@BookSquirt Yeah, I thought @sjmacmillan found a gem there.

BookSquirt
BookSquirt
Reply to  mentalmosaic
8 years ago

@mentalmosaic Yeah, it was pretty good. 🙂 (@sjmacmillan)

Mythic Scribes
Mythic Scribes
8 years ago

Patricia Elaine Chandler Also, if you present your book as a success story, explaining your challenges and how you overcame them, it’s likely that the family members of autistic children will be interested in reading it. Autism is on the rise in a big way (for some unknown reason), and offering hope to the parents of autistic children may garner some attention.

Mythic Scribes
Mythic Scribes
8 years ago

Patricia Elaine Chandler It wasn’t our intention to ignore you. Facebook collapses the first several comments, so it’s easy for them to slip our minds. Also, we’re not able to personally respond to every single comment, as our time is limited. It’s always our hope that other members of our community will engage in the discussion and respond to those who are asking for advice. In any case, you seem unsure as to why anyone would want to read your book. That’s probably the first – and most crucial – issue for you to overcome. Whatever the subject matter is, if you can find a way to present it that’s compelling and generates some level of suspense, people will be more interested in reading it.

annedreshfield
8 years ago

This made me laugh out loud! I’ve been working on a series since I was a freshman in high school (I’m entering my senior year of college this fall). I know I’ll finish it someday; I’ve finished stories before. Did school get in the way? Yeah, a ton. Will a job out of college get in the way? You bet. But I’m not giving up on the story, damn it! 🙂 

Patricia Elaine Chandler
Patricia Elaine Chandler
8 years ago

Ok, so I don’t warrant a response or advise? I read the article and I’m being totally honest for the 1st about why I Can’t Finish. Maybe I shouldn’t have divulged I’m Autistic. I’m enrolled in my 7th College, so I can Read And Write And Speak.

Mythic Scribes
Mythic Scribes
8 years ago

Mercedes Miranda Have you tried outlining? Writing a quick outline can provide a useful roadmap. You may also find our “5 Step Method” to be a helpful approach, as it can keep you from wandering off track: http://mythicscribes.com/writing-a-book/

Mercedes Miranda
Mercedes Miranda
8 years ago

I’ve been writing since I was 12, but haven’t finished one story. Not even short ones. The ideas spin around in my head until I finally get out a notebook, but then im blank. I’ve also lost files due to broken jump drives and crashed computers. Ive had to restart stories countless times but I refuse to give up. Does anyone have tips for me? I know a lot of it is being easily distracted, I really do have ADD. 😛

MercedesMiranda
MercedesMiranda
8 years ago

I’ve been writing since I was 12, but haven’t finished one story. Not even short ones. The ideas spin around in my head until I finally get out a notebook, but then im blank. I’ve also lost files due to broken jump drives and crashed computers. Ive had to restart stories countless times but I refuse to give up. Does anyone have tips for me? I know a lot of it is being easily distracted, I really do have ADD. 😛
 

Morgan Sorrell
Reply to  MercedesMiranda
8 years ago

 @MercedesMiranda Ideas are easy to come by, but actually writing out the exact details, sentences, and dialogue is horribly difficult. I usually have to say my ideas out loud–if it’s a particular bit of dialogue I want a character to say, I’ll repeat it aloud to work out the phrasing. If it’s an action scene, I’ll grab a family member and have them act it out for me so I can visualize what I want to happen. Scenery is a bit trickier, because it’s best if you can go somewhere that has the exact setting you want, but traveling like that isn’t always an option. It can be especially hard to find a real life place to base your setting off of if you’re writing fantasy set in a different time period, another continent, a new world, or even space. So for setting, I would suggest finding pictures any way you can: books, paintings, museums, the internet, etc.
 
This advice isn’t necessarily meant to help with writers block per se, because it sounds to me like you have plenty of ideas. It’s just figuring out HOW to write it and working out all of the details that stumps you up.
 
PS: Writing/editing classes, seminars, and conventions can also be a great learning experience to work on your voice and personal writing style.

DebbieMorella
DebbieMorella
8 years ago

@PrudenceMacLeod @I_am_LadyJai @mythicscribes Good one – #’s 2, 4 and 5 pretty much sum it up for me! LOL

PrudenceMacLeod
PrudenceMacLeod
Reply to  DebbieMorella
8 years ago

@DebbieMorella That was a great pep talk, wasn’t it? Got me right back to the WIP. hwehehe

judypost
judypost
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters @mythicscribes Enjoyed this blog. Didn’t mince words. Got straight to the point–with humor, no less.

YasminSelena
YasminSelena
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters @mythicscribes That was a great little piece, thx for sharing it Patrick & for the follow, today : )

Patrick_Satters
Patrick_Satters
Reply to  YasminSelena
8 years ago

@YasminSelena @judypost it’s great that you liked it. i just try to share interesting stuff to my followers and @mythicscribes offers it. =)

YasminSelena
YasminSelena
Reply to  Patrick_Satters
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters @mythicscribes Me too! I like to share stuff too. I really hope you enjoy my feed & blog. U should put a biog on your site

Patrick_Satters
Patrick_Satters
Reply to  YasminSelena
8 years ago

@YasminSelena are people really interested in them if you aren’t famous? i probably will add that after finishing my debut novel.

YasminSelena
YasminSelena
Reply to  YasminSelena
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters I think adding a biography will make you into more of a three dimensional soul, a real person, rather than words on paper.

judypost
judypost
Reply to  Patrick_Satters
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters It was my first time to visit it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

ritamills
ritamills
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters @mythicscribes it is tough, but maybe this video will help. http://t.co/rQyQQ03u

Mythic Scribes
Mythic Scribes
8 years ago

Anna Fajardo What are you doing differently this year from previous ones?

abrahamzack
abrahamzack
8 years ago

@Patrick_Satters thank u for following us!

mithrilwisdom
mithrilwisdom
8 years ago

I’m a big ‘non-finisher’ even though I think of myself as a bit of a completest, I know that I run out of steam really quickly.

DonNutting
DonNutting
8 years ago

@suzannegrogers @mythicscribes Inspiring, especially the writing ADD. I tried writing two novels but ended up quitting on both. #writing

chriswhitewrite
chriswhitewrite
8 years ago

Only recently got published (well, will be published, the anthology comes out early next year apparently,) and I have to say the first thing that really got to me was a lack of writing technique – I had a good idea, but I was in no way ready to write it. The pages that I did write were terrible. So, I thought, maybe I am not a writer after all.
Until I started having ideas that wouldn’t go away – the voices kept pestering me, telling me their little tales. I decided to test my hand, to practice by writing short stories. Then I started posting them online, I found writing communities and discovered that people liked some of the things that I put up there.
I still haven’t written the novel, but it is coming along in dribs and drabs, and my writing will only get better the more I test myself with short stories.

The_Drill99
The_Drill99
8 years ago

This article isn’t so much about submitting and getting rejected than it is just not even finishing.  Being a perfectionist only gets you so far.  I have the same worries that whatever I put out in the world isn’t good enough, but you don’t know until you finish it and send it out there.

Anna Fajardo
Anna Fajardo
8 years ago

I’ve been writing since I was 12 and the thought that “I’ll get published someday” was always at the front of my mind, but as I got older, I never got up off my butt to prepare the query letters and look up the publishers. I’ve done the writing and rewriting, I’ve just never gone farther than that (which will make this year different).

Patricia Elaine Chandler
Patricia Elaine Chandler
8 years ago

I scared to finally finish something … I am Autistic and my book is about My Life, from birth, and I’ll be 49 in November. I started writing in 2006. If I’ve not accomplished anything significant yet, how can I finish it to publish? Why would anyone want to read it? I’m scared. I’m human….. Mostly 😀 …. I’m Autistic, Always.

CiaraBallintyne
CiaraBallintyne
8 years ago

I suffer from No.4 but I’m in therapy for it 😉 I can’t help it, I’m a lawyer, perfectionism is part of the package deal! But I am learning when to say ‘enough is enough’ and I currently have two short stories out there I’m trying to get published.

Morgan Sorrell
8 years ago

I started writing my first novel as a Sophomore in high school. Then I took an editing class (taught by Carol Dawson) and found out how much it sucked.
 So I rewrote it. And it still sucked. But I rewrote it again, and it was okay. Now, three years later, I’ve graduated, and I’m rewriting it for a final time. Not because I’m a perfectionist who will never be satisfied, but because I had to learn HOW to write through trial and error and error and error…
I’m about to start college at UCO for a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, with a minor in Latin. I’ve only pitched to three agents so far, but it has been good practice so far. I hope that this will be the last time I have to rewrite this first novel, but I also have the idea for a second one just waiting to be let free if I decide I need to move on.
Don’t stop believing! (and read that like it’s being sung by Journey)

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