Author Nancy Scrofano Talks Writing Through Rejection

Writing Through Rejection by Nancy Scrofano

american honeyI 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:

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlways 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.
  • ahtour buttonAlways 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!

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  1. February 19, 2014 / 10:01 am

    Great advice, Nancy! Bad reviews do really sting but you’re so right that nothing we write will ever please everyone and at least people are reading our books. If we can learn something from negativity/rejection, great. If not, just shrug it off, read the great reviews again and move on! I can vouch for the fact that the more books you have, the less it stings. I have 3 novels out and while a bad review still hurts, it doesn’t hurt as much 🙂

  2. February 20, 2014 / 9:25 am

    Love this post and advice, Nancy! Thanks for sharing. Just as Meredith says, the nasty comments and bad reviews certainly hurt, but we have to learn what we can, shrug off the rest, and move on! Oftentimes I find myself down in the dumps over a bad review, unable to push on with the current novel I’m working on. But then I ask myself, “Why am I writing for those who dislike my work?” By stopping my current novel’s progress and doubting my abilities, my stories, my passion, I’m giving in to the readers who have decided my book/writing isn’t for them. I’m writing for those people?! The haters? Have I lost my mind? I then have to remember that I write for myself and for the readers who love my work, my fans. They’re the ones eagerly awaiting the next novel, so I best get my rear in gear, get back to writing, and publish the best work I can for them! And, again in agreement with Meredith, the more books you have on your backlist the less the sting. Absolutely! I certainly cringe with each bad review that is not constructive, but with 7 books published now I have discovered that long-hidden thick skin. And, right on with the tip: Remember to smile. It’s so true that publishing a novel is a pretty awesome thing to do and we can’t forget that! 🙂 Keep on writing and thanks again for sharing!! XO

  3. February 20, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    Thanks for reading and commenting on my post, Meredith and Savannah! I think every writer has experienced the doubt that comes after a rejection letter or bad review. But the more you write and publish books, the easier it is to get over the negative stuff and move on. I agree that bad reviews will always sting at least a little bit, but it’s important to focus on the positive reviews and constructive criticism. I know some authors who never read reviews. I understand why they don’t want to read any reviews, but I also think that reviews can help you become a better writer.

    Thanks again, Samantha, for letting me write a guest post! 🙂

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