Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Only Thick Skinned Need Apply

Almost every day I see someone with this quality and I’ve got to admire their persistence. It’s like the boxer that gets smashed yet continues to stand for another round. Or when the boxer gets knocked down, they shake it off and climb back into the ring the next day.

If we are involved in publishing, the odds are against us. Reading continues to decline. Publishers are cutting back on the amount of books they will publish in a season. The number of books continue to increase (mostly because of self-publishing and print on demand). There is a massive amount of material in circulation for editors to read. Some people estimate that at any given time there are over six million manuscripts and proposals in circulation. There are many more reasons but those are a few where the odds are long on success. Yet, writers find their motivation deep inside and persist in attempting to get their message to the public.

My opportunity to see such persistence is my role as the Fiction Acquisitions Editor at Howard Publishing. I regularly tell people about the high volume of submissions and the few books which are contracted. Yet even armed with this information, writers continue to send their material. Agents continue to submit material from their clients. I admire the internal fortitude and commitment to continue trying. Many people can easily tout Babe Ruth’s home run record.  Few people seem to recall in 1918, 1919, 1923, 1924, 1927 and 1928, Babe Ruth also led his league in strikeouts. You can’t get published in magazines or books unless you are submitting and in the marketplace.

Many years ago I encouraged a friend to send his work to publishers. He picked up on my encouragement and mailed his material. A few weeks later, I checked to see how it was going. “It came back rejected a few times and I decided that no one wanted it. I put that material away,” he said.

In some cases, it’s a good idea to put away your manuscript and not send it out. Like many writers, I’ve got a number of things in my files (which I worked hard on at the time) and they were soundly rejected. This material may get reworked and out into the market but I suspect, most of these ideas will stay in my files.

Often I find new writers grow discouraged from the rejection—and simply quit. There are many reasons for rejection—and not all of them relate to your specific manuscript. Maybe it’s the wrong timing or the wrong place. You need to have thick skin and persist in getting it out there. You are looking for a connection and it might only take one more attempt.

1 Comment:

At 6:23 PM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

Thanks for sharing this, Terry. It's always great to have encouragement to keep on keeping on.


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