A Writer’s New Year’s Message

My across the pond partners in crime Jane Smith and Nicola Morgan offered some very wise advice, and I’d like to make the same appeal on this side of the pond because the message has international appeal.

Your writing career is about creating balance. Over the past seven years, I’ve received thousands of query letters in varying states of disarray. Most, thankfully, were keyed into the right elements of professionalism. The rest…well…? It’s quickly apparent to an editor or agent when a writer is serious about their craft and when they’re just playing writer. And it starts with the query letter.

I’ve had the gamut – those that dared me to reject them because editors and agents are all asshats who couldn’t smell talent if it landed on their arrogant little noses, and others that begged and pleaded with me to read their work. Others have told me their book is going to “put your company on the map”/a surefire bestselling book/the most fantastic book I’ve ever read. There’s another group of writers who look at the query process as a lark and address their query letters “Hey, Ms. CrankyPants/Yo, Evil Red Pen Lady/Dear Beagle…all which result in instant death rejection. The last group takes me to task for daring to critique their writing in my rejection leter.

So what does all this say? Well, several things:

  • If you don’t take yourself seriously, then who will?
  • Taking yourself too seriously is bug repellent to editors.
  • Treating your craft as a joke is a slap in the face to those whose lives are given over to producing great books.
  • If you can’t handle being critiqued, then take up knitting.

It’s my 2011 wish for you to maintain a comfortable sense of who you are, what you’re writing, and whom you query. Never forget that writing success doesn’t come without it’s counter punch – rejection. Make it your intent to attain a measure of grace under fire, along with clarity and experience. Is your book simply not right for that editor, or are your literary grapes still green? Consider the possibilities, not the limitations.

And please, dear writers…always try to keep a lid on overreacting.

*stolen off Nicola Morgan’s site

5 Responses to A Writer’s New Year’s Message

  1. NinjaFingers says:

    Every time rejection gets me down, I just remember the time I got a solicitation to submit to an anthology and a form rejection on two subsequent days.

    From the same editor.

    It’s always worth remembering that an editor is not rejecting YOU. An editor is rejecting that specific piece. (With rare exceptions, but if you happen to run into one of those…there are plenty more editors)

  2. *laughing* at the video clip!

    You know, even after an author finds that agent and/or publisher, and even ever they may have one or more than one book out, and even after that book(s) receive nice reviews, an author can still feel the sting of rejection or a bad review or if they aren’t where they think they should be.

    So, yes, finding that balance is key if we want to survive in this business. But boy do I feel lucky that finally, at last, at my age, I am doing what I have wanted to do for so very long!

  3. Cat says:

    No, purrlease do not take up knitting. Knitting is not a pastime for the rejected author. You are liable to drop stitches, your tension/gauge will be awry, you will knit two left elbows and no right thumb. The colour will be wrong and the neck will strangle you – oh and the beagle has arranged for every other dog to put claws in at strategic points.
    Of course we cats behave purrfectly around knitting!

  4. Maybe there should be a place for authors to go where they can scream and rant and throw themselves about a bit, without harming anyone or themselves, or even causing embarassment.

    Happy Christmas, Lynn!

  5. All too wise, Ms. Morgan! And a Merry Christmas to you, dahling!

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