As a senior editor for a romance e-publisher, oftentimes, my job is to disappoint hopeful authors, to tell them that their work is not up to par.
I often joke that my job is to tell people their book baby is ugly.
As an author, I know how criticism and rejection can sting. I know the knee-jerk reaction to call that agent, that editor, that publisher a stupid stupidface who doesn’t understand you, your work, the genre, anything.
I get it. I really do.
As writers, we’re passionate about our work! And I think it’s okay to experience that knee-jerk reaction.
With a few caveats.
1. Never, never, never vent in public. ESPECIALLY not on social media. Not even for a second. Not even if you take it down in the next five minutes.
I can guarantee you someone somewhere has a screenshot, and that outburst will come back to haunt you forever.
Why? Because it makes you look like an unprofessional jerk. Rejection and criticism are part and parcel of writing. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t expect your writing to be well-forged.
So vent in private–in private emails, messages, and groups–and only to your Circle of Trust.
2. After you’re done venting in private, go back to the rejection letter and really read it. Look at what it says and what it doesn’t say.
These people are professionals in their field. They’ve read extensively in your genre. They’re also overworked as hell. If they are taking their time to offer you good, solid critique, seriously consider taking it.
Make something out of it.
3. If you find you’re getting rejected a lot, I highly recommend a critique group or beta readers who: a) know your genre and b) will give you honest feedback.
As tempting as it may be to ask your best friend or your mom or your SO to read your work, they may not be the best person. A good crit partner or beta reader is someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in making you happy, but will give you the good with the bad in a detailed and constructive way.
Why do I recommend this? Oftentimes, we can’t see the flaws because we’re so close to the work. Oftentimes, it will take the author 3-4 drafts to figure out a problem when simply talking it out with a crit partner can provide far quicker results.
Not to mention: many of the stories I’ve rejected were ones where the author clearly, clearly, clearly did not have even one person read the work before sending it off to me.
Do you really want that acquisitions editor to be the first one to read your book?
Spoiler alert: No. No you don’t.
As with any advice, your mileage may vary here. Becoming a successful writer is a different path for everyone. I hope my advice helps you on your way!
Slán go fóill!