Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Can’t Handle the Truth

Rejection by publishers and agents is the least of a writer’s worries these days. What disturbs me is the changing industry and what the Internet has done to create a means to avoid rejection.

Self-publishing is on the rise thanks to the Internet. It’s a quicker path and unless you decide to reject yourself, publication is a sure thing. Some writers are also following this path in hopes of being noticed by large publishers. Reading Jim C. Hines novel survey results shows this isn't the case. But what will the future hold with more self-published novels out there? I’m more inclined to believe these books will be reduced back to manuscript level and publishers will be even less interested in weeding through them.

It used to mean something to win contests, but they're popping up all over the Internet, not necessarily from a reputable group. The Courier is a perfect example. I don’t expect the contest I co-won to hold much weight with a publisher, considering the contest is run by my agent.

How can authors possibly accept rejection when they have so many social networks to feed their egos? I’ve even heard about authors creating fictitious followers they use to comment on their own blog to make themselves look more popular. Huh? There are also those writers who pester (or should I say stalk) everyone on the social sites to increase fans or followers. I was personally pestered by a few authors a couple years ago, in hopes I'd buy their books. There was never a friendly conversation from these people. Only countless emails about how wonderful their book was and requests to confirm I'd bought a copy.

I spent a lot of time on writer’s sites like Booksie and Authonomy last year, in hopes of receiving constructive criticism on my writing. But Greg’s post yesterday was right on. Writers only want to hear how wonderful their own novel is. I've even seen profile pages that announce only positive comments are welcome. I question whether many of the members actually read other writers' work. It's more obvious they figure dropping by to say something nice and generic about your novel will get them a glowing review of their own. Out on sites like Authonomy, you can claw your way on to a HarperCollins editor's desk. Imagine the unethical practices going on over there.

Rejection doesn’t end with an acceptance letter from a publisher. Lately, I’ve been watching the book review blogs and don’t like what I’m seeing. There are virtually thousands of reviewers who are competing to get free books, the most author interviews, review the most books and get noticed themselves. Alienate a few of these people and an author risks having their book rejected by parts of the reviewing community, even if it is a good book. In addition, I really don’t like the idea of someone reviewing my book after spending two hours skimming through the text.

I know I’ve just touched the surface here. So now I hand the discussion over to our readers. How else do you see writers avoiding rejection?

Now, I'd like to announce that this is my last week blogging with the Wicked Writers. Due to a lack of progress on my novel series this year, I've decided to concentrate on writing, editing, and paying my rejection dues to publishers. I've had a great time, everyone! Thanks so much for dropping by to read.


  1. You know you'll be sorely missed, Wendy, and I'm personally very sorry to see you go. If you want to guest post or drop in to say hi and give us an update then we'd love to have you. Good luck getting your own book finished, I know I need to refocus myself and my efforts and do the same with my second book as well.

    Your post today was excellent and brought up some insightful points. I tried the authonomy route as well, but figured out the system in a week or so and backed out. I've never experienced the pushy writers to "buy my book" you're talking about, but have seen lots of non-personal posts/announcements that certainly remind me they're out there.

    I could share a story about my experience with book-reviewers and a clique of friends, but the less I say on that the better!

    The one thing I disagree on is your feelings about your contest win. Your agent may not turn out to be the one who ultimately sells your book, but a co-win in the forum you were in does matter. You reached out to readers, real people, who like your book and the world you have created. Don't ever lose sight of that fact.

    When we lack publishing credits, contests are the only thing we can put on our query letter. And the followers you've gained because of your work in the contest will be there when the book sells -- cheering you on and gladly buying a copy. Some may drop to the way side, but others will take their place. And you know why?

    Because your book is worthy, Wendy. You'll make it. I know it.

    Lastly, you asked how do I see writers avoiding rejection? By never finishing a manuscript enough to get it out there to even be rejected in the first place. I saw so many writers in the chapters I was in last year who have been writing for years and have three to five manuscripts almost done. It drove me crazy!

    Good luck in all that you do and I hope we stay in touch. You've been terrific in every association I've had with you and I'm honored to call you a friend.

  2. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for your insight. I agree with how the easily accessible playing field of self-publishing is. It has given rise to countless published books that would not otherwise make it to print - for good or bad. Self publishing means more individual dollars in an authors pocket, but for many it allows for poor book layout, poor editing and weak story lines. Since this field is new, however, it may lead to new opportunities and a fresh outlook for the publishing future.

    Rejection is part of the business. It takes a certain character and level of professionalism to deal with it constructively. As a designer, it is part of the daily routine.

    Good luck with your new book, I will be watching for it. I will miss your posts on Wicked Writers.

    Kind Regards,

  3. Personally I think self-publishing is like desk-top publishing. Out came Pagemaker and all of a sudden everyone was a graphic artist and the market got flooded with crap. The same thing is happening here. Personally I think it's a good thing. More people are writing and more people have hope for their words. Is writing about publishing or just writing? Life has always been a wild ride... this is just the current iteration. I'm just going to keep writing and if along the way I meet a few people who like my words then cool. Karma is still worth maintaining.

  4. Excellent post, Wendy, even if the moment is rather sad. I agree about writers avoiding rejection. I have seen it so many times.

    While I encourage people to write, I find that the vast majority have no real concept of writing and I'm not being elitist. If you write, you should not let something like a blog go public with tons of spelling and grammatical errors.

    Even worse is to be lumped in with those who don't know what they are doing. It's like that commercial where the guy is about to serve in tennis and suddenly every Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane is on the court thinking they can play tennis. It's an allegory for most job search sites, but it fits aptly here. Your serious work and the work our readers love is suddenly lumped in with everyone else.

    That's where your blog hits it on the head. The Internet encourages "writers" to happily fill the web with crap and mediocrity because rejection and bad reviews can be avoided.

    Anyway, let me stop rambling. You take care of yourself. Good luck on your series and drop in to say hello once in a while.

  5. Great post, Wendy.

    I, too, tried the Authonomy gig - what a happy bunch of back-slappers! You slap my back and I'll slap yours - and we'll climb the Harper Collins lader together! Yea, right! What a game... but, you've covererd them, so i'll not harp on!

    In the short time I've been with you here, I've enjoyed reading your writing, and I'll miss your posts. I do hope you pop back now and then, to let us know how you're doing! :)

  6. Thanks so much for the kind words on my contest win.

    I've really enjoyed my time blogging here and will miss posting every week. But I will be dropping by to read and visit.

  7. I love your statement! "New opportunities and a fresh outlook for the publishing future." Despite some of the drawbacks, it is equally exciting to sit back and watch the publishing industry try to evolve with ePublishing. Then I remember I'm also in the middle of it o.O

  8. We'll miss you, WJ! Please stay in touch and best wishes on your novel.

  9. Memories... I remember using Framemaker back in the early 90s. And speaking of publishing tools, yesterday, Gaynor introduced me to

  10. Magazine publishing for idiots or the technically challenged like myself, but what did you think of it Wendy.

    I enjoyed this post, but am sorry you're leaving this site. I alway read your insights on publishing and have been following The Courier since we met on Booksie. I was promoting Vamplit (secretly) and you came over and read some of my articles and writing. I know we share some of the same views on how difficult it is to get a book deal nowdays, but from the moment I read the first chapter of The Courier I was convinced you'd make it. Good luck with your next big push on The Courier.

  11. Wonderful post although I'll keep trying the contests. Your rich words will be missed. Best of luck on your novel, we'll anxiously await it.