When to stop the madness

I just read on a board where an author was “celebrating” his 700th rejection.
For. The. Same. Manuscript.

Dude. If you’ve received that many rejections, then you need to seriously consider retiring that poor thing to the confines of your desk. And yet I see this all the time; authors who stick to their one manuscript like the beagle to a chocolate martini.

Maybe I’m a turncoat for suggesting anyone give up on a story, but come on…after that many rejections, who’s left to query? I’m willing to bet the beagle’s booze fund that the only publishers left are those who are unable to get the book to market because they have zero distribution and marketing. Is this what you want for your hard work?

Maybe you worked five years on this story. Maybe longer. But time doesn’t equate a publishable story; it equates faith and commitment. While those elements are admirable, we don’t reward contracts based on how long a manuscript has been kicking around. It has to be marketable.

It’s like a salesman spending five years trying to sell strawberry-flavored Twinkies – a travesty in my opinion – and not getting a single sale. At some point that salesman has to consider the harsh facts; no one wants them, so ditch the Twinkies and find a product that sells.

I’m all for positive attitudes, but I also subscribe to keeping a foot entrenched in reality as well, and I question anyone who continues to push a hugely-rejected manuscript. Put that poor thing on ice and write a new story. Why continue the literary abuse? It’s been established there is something inherently wrong with the story. Let it go. Begin anew.

Sadly, I’ve seen authors sign with rotten publishers rather than ditching the manuscript, and I wonder if this is a case of ardent stubbornness. “I’ll be damned if this beast won’t get published!” The book will never see the light of day, so what have they gained? It’s a hollow victory.

Is it better to not be published at all than be published badly? I vote yes because I’ve witnessed too many horror stories [see the POD series in the Classic Posts]. It should be the goal to be a writer, not a published author. Those who push the square peg in a round hole are feeding their ego, not their talent.

Avoid membership of The Perpetually Rejected Club.  Overabundant rejection is not where a writer’s head should be. It should be on writing a fabulous story. If 700 people have told you that your story isn’t fabulous, then perhaps it’s time to stop the madness.

6 Responses to When to stop the madness

  1. Nicola Morgan says:

    You are JOKING? What planet is this person on? He has to get the message. Good god ….

    This time, I have remembered to attach my name to this post. Yay. Must be the wine I am drinking to get me through Eurovision. You are so lucky not to have that.


  2. Aston West says:

    Are we sure he hasn’t just been rejected 100 times by the same 7 people? 🙂

  3. lynnpricewrites says:

    It truly is one of those head in hand moments. Conversely, I’ve seen authors get quite infuriated over a few dozen rejections. My thinking is always WHAT?? Are you mad?? Having a sense of balance in either direction is a healthy thing.

  4. Sarah says:

    Ooo-kie dokie, then.

    At least he’s busy submitting his MS and not making a living as a car salesman. (I hope.) I can just imagine some poor soul running off the lot while he chases them, shouting information about MPG and the latest money-back deal.

  5. Alice says:

    So how many rejections is a reasonable number before you give up? I would have thought 25 on one book, before rewrites at least. ANyone?

  6. I think it depends on the author. Some give up at 25, others give up at 50. In my book 25 rejections isn’t enough to give up on a work that took a writer a long time to write. There are all kinds of stories about successful authors getting a great deal after a couple hundred rejections. There is no clear cut rule. That said, 700 rejections is clearly a sign that something is fatally wrong with the manuscript. Just my opinion.

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