As a reader of romance you may not realize what an author has gone through before their book is published. Particularly if it’s their first book—ever. You may also not realize that most every writer’s journey to publishing, whether it’s to self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, is vastly different and can be loaded with rejection. As much as we would love it to be true, and often dream of, a ready-to-be-published book just doesn’t happen.
Authors go through rejections from agents, editors, beta readers, neighbors, the kind lady at the library who offered to read your book but then refused to look you in the eye the next time you came in to check out the latest Delilah Devlin blockbuster. We fret over the horror stories bandied about such as, “It took me eleven years before I received my first book contract.” Or my personal favorite, “I had a hundred and fifty rejections before I received my first yes.” Oh. My.
Others have experienced rejections from other writers (those meanies) and contest judges. As aspiring writers we often use contests to help us test the waters so to speak. Sometimes we receive encouragement and constructive criticism, but often we find rejection there as well. Because there’s nothing better an author loves more than entering a contest only to receive this little gem in the notes, “Am I supposed to hate your heroine?” Yes, folks that was written about my first paranormal heroine. That puppy is now hidden underneath my bed hanging out with the dust bunnies and forgotten Christmas presents.
How do we deal with the rejections? Chocolate. Cookies. Sometimes a nip of wine, or two or hell, just pass the bottle. Why not just give up you ask? Because we HAVE to write. The voices in our head won’t let us stop and if they catch wind of our self-doubt, they follow us everywhere and nag us until we get back to the computer, notebook, or a napkin, whatever is handy when inspiration strikes. Rest assured that your favorite author at some point in their career has sweated over every single word, each comma placement to get it just right. For you. Our awesome readers.
Every writer you meet will have a war story or two. And for those that keep going, and listen to the voices in their head by not giving up, success does happen. It doesn’t mean New York Times Bestseller success right out of the gate (although that would be AWEsome), it means finishing the book, getting it published and receiving positive feedback from readers…OMG! Someone reeeally likes my book!
As much as we all dream of scoring that big contract our first time out, it rarely happens. But what makes the journey bearable is by surrounding ourselves with other writers. A group of creative souls who relish storytelling and the impact it has on our readers. When we find a writing group, critique partner or even a beta reader who is in our corner, cheering us on and challenging us to write to the height of our writing ability, that’s gold baby.
I’m still in the trenches, receiving rejections, but not giving up. Who knows? This time next year, you could be reading my sexy contemporary SAVING MAVERICK. Or my romantic suspense about this undercover female FBI agent who can’t stand her new pretend husband or maybe I’ll brush off the dust bunnies from my paranormal. Whichever one it happens to be, one thing is for sure, all it takes is one yes and I’ll have my own happily ever after.
Some writers who inspire me are Jill Shalvis, Rebecca Zanetti, Lara Adrian and Gena Showalter to name but a few of the outstanding authors in our industry today. Who is one of your favorite authors? If you’re also a writer, which author made you say “I want to write stories like that?”
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