Writing Through Rejection by Nancy Scrofano
I started writing my new novel, American Honey, when I started querying agents and publishers about my first novel, True Love Way. As the rejections started coming in, I found it more and more difficult to continue writing my second book. Each time I received a rejection, I doubted myself even more and wondered if I should continue writing. During the six months that I queried True Love Way, I started and stopped writing American Honey more times than I can remember. I would receive some positive feedback about my writing, so I would continue, then I would get another rejection and stop. I finally realized that I was basing everything on the opinions of others, but not listening to my own. I was letting everyone else’s “noise” get the best of me. I tried my hardest to drive out the negativity and not pay attention. That worked for a little while, but then True Love Way was published, and negative reviews came in. I got a lot of positive reviews, which actually outweigh the negative reviews by a lot, but I couldn’t help focusing on the negative. It was like being rejected by agents and publishers all over again. A bad review stings just like a rejection letter. I like and appreciate constructive criticism because it helps me improve as a writer, and I’m always striving to be better, but some of the comments I received were intentionally mean-spirited. My publisher/editor helped a lot to get me through the tough times and always encouraged me to continue, despite what anyone else said. I have a new outlook on rejection (in any form) when I’m writing, so here are some tips on how to get over it:
- Always remind yourself that publishing is an extremely subjective industry. Someone might love what someone else absolutely hates, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t stress yourself out worrying about someone’s opinion because you can’t change it. People like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like regardless of what you do or say. So, write what you want to write and always trust your instincts.
- Try to see negative reviews in a positive light. If someone takes the time to trash your book, then it obviously made an impact on them. Isn’t that one of the goals of any writer? To affect people’s emotions? Yes, most writers want to affect people in a positive way, but if someone is so passionate about your story in a negative way that you elicit such a strong reaction, causing his/her to act on it by writing a review, then you have succeeded.
- The old Hollywood saying, “Any publicity is good publicity,” applies to the publishing world, too. If people are talking about your book (good or bad), it’s always a good thing. Authors want to reach as many people as possible with their stories, so the more people who talk about them, the better, no matter what the comments are. Poorly written novels reach bestseller status sometimes more often than well-written novels because of all the buzz surrounding them. It seems unfair, but it isn’t. It’s all about publicity.
- Every novel has an audience. Authors need to find the audience for their books. When you start to think that no one will like what you’ve written, remember that there are billions of people in the world. Someone (other than your family and close friends) will like it. Guaranteed.
- The more books you write, the easier it is to read a rejection letter or a bad review, especially after you have established a readership, even if it’s small at first. It helps to know that there are people out there who you don’t know and have never met who support you and enjoy your stories. That’s the best feeling.
- Always believe in yourself. Focus on the story that you want to write. Get the opinions of a trusted few, but don’t get overwhelmed by them. Ultimately, you know what’s best for you and your story.
- Remember to smile. Don’t take everything personally. Writing a novel is a wonderful accomplishment that needs to be celebrated. Never forget to celebrate what you have achieved, and always keep writing!