When I started riding this merry-go-round I decided that I wanted to be published mainstream by the time I was 50. That was 5 years ago.
By mainstream I don't mean best seller or even a low seller, just something in a mag, anything, but something I had been paid for, even if it was just £5.
Call it a personal goal, something I wanted to do.
I have been published with HE, that is POD, done for very different reasons and I am proud of it. Proud of the feedback we have had from strangers. Not done the sales. That was never part of the equation, least for me. It was a side path that sprung from trying to reach the goal and one that I will never regret taking, learned a lot about writing, me and friendship.
Now have two novels, a good dozen short stories and though I have come close; short stories held for three months or more, exchanges of emails, even had whole manuscripts requested; I still havenít sold one thing.
Not surprised, not in the least. Never had the dream of the best seller, or making a fortune, just wanted to make this goal of a single sale to prove a point to myself.
Just wondering how much longer should I go on?
After the present edits and re-writes should I call it a day? Send out until the end of the year then say okÖ you are 50 now, give it a rest, write for fun from now on.
August 19th, 2004, 05:04 AM
Lets put it this way Hol, you've got nothing to loose by continuing to send out submissions.
Mainstream publication is a game of chance. I know you've got a lot of talent as a writer, as I'm sure do other members here who have read your work. You have had a lot of positive feedback from your submissions rather than the cursory form rejection letters, which is a definite bonus, although I'm guessing even that is thin consolation for all your work and effort after a while.
My best advice would be to take some time out from writing (at least from projects or WIP's with publication in mind) and just chill out for a while.
I know how much the submission routine can grind you down and wear you out. It's a very draining process that can leave you mentally, physically and emotionally shattered, and I think you're just a bit burned out at the moment.
If you can, take a break for a couple of weeks to recharge. Some quality time off where you can just forget about everything and just enjoy yourself and let your hair down.
You may feel completely different when you get back.
P.S. It always good to remember that it doesn't matter how rejections you get, it's just takes that one agent/publisher to say "yes" and you've cracked it.
What I mean is, all writers are essentially only one submission away from publication.
August 19th, 2004, 07:13 AM
Chin up Holbrook, I just got a rejection too, a couple in fact. As has been said, theres nothing to lose. Don't give up now, or they have one. The writing business is hard, but you are harder. :) Go for it Hol, u got pretty far last time.
August 19th, 2004, 12:01 PM
Don't worry about age:
William Burrows, Charles Bukowsky, R.A. Lafferty...
August 19th, 2004, 01:20 PM
Hey Hol, sorry to hear about the rejection letter. Don't let it confuse you in any way about the quality of what you have written... you write very good stuff, better than many things I've bought off the shelf.
That being said, your dream is your dream. Don't let the rejection get in the way of fulfilling it. Should you write for fun? Yes. But that does not preclude sending things out and awaiting that lightning strike. Keep it up. It may take longer than you thought.
When you sell something, I want to own one of the first signed copies off the shelf of my local bookstore...
And if it does not make it over the pond, I'll drop in a bookstore next time I'm in your part of the world, buy one, and then come find you to sign it!
Take a day or two off of worrying about it. Then send it out again. And keep writing!
August 19th, 2004, 03:20 PM
You know folks seem to have more belief in my writing ability than me. I have none most of the time lol... Most here have more talent than me, most have a better command of the English language.
Too much of a pragmatist to have the grand super dreams, just have a small one. To prove a point to myself, that it can be done.
But sometimes reaching for it starts my very staid, down to earth side, tutting and shaking its head.
Just feels as if the road is running out fast and I have to stop before I go over the edge. I need another lever arch file to keep copies of my submission letters and the matching rejections. Think I will move the short story ones into the new folder...
Having a break anyway off for a week down south Saturday.. so maybe my head will clear. Or I might loose it, lol.... meeting up with some sword wielding folk in a field in Essex...
August 19th, 2004, 04:21 PM
The grief you are feeling is exactly why I chose to never put any effort into selling mainstream. I want writing to be pleasurable, not painful, and that particular process would drive me insane. The real question is, do you want to write, or do you want to publish? My, writing is the thing. POD is just fine to get it between two covers and allow others to read it. That makes me happy as a pig in mud.
But, you have greater (or different) dreams. If you want to validate your ability by selling a piece, then drive to that.
However, if what you really want to know is that you are good enough to publish, let me assure you that you are. No question. But, this is not a fair industry, and talent is about 30% of the game for getting discovered. 70% is luck. Whatever you do, Hol, do it for your own reasons. Don't do it because you think 'we' (whoever we are) need to see that to validate your skill. I've seen your skill, and it is a wonderful thing. Your writing flows in a way that I can't manage, and your characters are wonderful, witty, and engaging. Can't say that for everyone.
August 19th, 2004, 04:54 PM
A little story about rejection (to cheer you up Hol).
I've been on a short story writing spree this year. MASSIVELY! I'm up to around 60 short stories. Some good, some bad, some in the trash. I love to write. Writing should (as RichardB put it) always be pleasurable. You KNOW people enjoy your writing. You KNOW people want to read more and you're holding back on us ;). The toughest part of writing is getitng published. It has nothing to do with talent, but everything to do with keeping your work out there. Take a look at Heinlein's rules of writing and you'll know that you're way up at the top. You're nearly there. Many of us are.
I got sidetracked, as I often do. My point with my short stories this year is that I've sent out nearly everyone at least once. I currently have 16 on my home page that I'll not be seeking publication for. Not because I feel the stories are bad, but because I got tired of rejections for many of them. I've racked up 15 rejection letters this year and close to 90 rejection e-mails. I've submitted to print mags, anthologies, e-mags, etc. I've gotten 6 of 60 published. That's 10% and I feel very excited about that. So excited that I'm trying to re-polish up my first book (major edit) and I'm going to get it back out there. I'm also going to continue to write short stories and keep those floating out there as well.
Goals are great if you are in control. This is a goal (published by the age of 50) that you are not in control of. Don't take this as a setback, but take it as one rejection closer to publication. With each rejection letter that comes your way, hang it on the wall. Stephen King had dozens of rejections from his first stories (as did many great writers) and he hung each on a nail in his room. So each rejection you get puts you more and more into their category. You can't give up. You're writing is too good not to find a home. Persevere. Chin up and press on. Fill out that next envelope and get that baby back into the mail. Always know that we're all behind you...100%.
August 19th, 2004, 06:45 PM
Heard something from my business partner this week that applies, Swordsperson. We're in the middle of the seemingly eternal proposal cycle and I had just had my technical volume ripped to pieces by the red team. Partner says to me: "what are we going to do when you're gone? You're the only one we've got willing to put something down on paper, willing to risk being wrong." ( I retire end of December; eat your hearts out.) Well, yeah, that's my job. I'm the proposal writer so it doesn't seem like such a big deal to me but it does to him.
That's you, young person, one of the major reasons I admire you: You have the willingness and the talent to put it down on paper...again and again. And then to let someone else read and reject. Tell me, was it you or the Mouse who was the inspiration for the Iron Maiden PM?
August 19th, 2004, 08:55 PM
I can't believe someone who writes such fine tales and proves their talent again and again through making it to short-lists and writer of the month can have so much self-doubt. I believe you'll get the recognition you deserve eventually.
Perhaps you are pandering too much to market forces. It's necessary to a point especially in terms of raising skill levels and learning what publishers want but not to the point where you lose the desire to write for yourself. Because most of what we write IS just to amuse ourselves. You have to find some way to enjoy the process, usually by writing what you want to write.
Marketing is just a necessary evil that grinds everyone down, but especially those who've put a lot of effort into lifting their skill levels to a point above most of the slushpile.
I think the slushpile has some sort of sucking effect. It is full of writers who woke up one day and thought they would write a novel and mail it off. Nevermind learning how to use the tools of the craft, what tense or viewpoint mean or even to spell in many cases. The combined weight of that much heavy stupid slush, drags the writers who've put in the hard hours down with it.
They have to build little steps of success to climb out of it: "this story was story of the month at OWW, please look at it. I graduated Clarion West in 2007 where Ellen Datlow was tutor and she liked the opening of this novel, please look at it. My short story won an Aurealis Award in 2005 and this novel is on the same theme, please look at it."
Sometimes people are lucky, they strike some bright young intern sorting the slush who reads the ms and promotes it enthusiastically to a junior editor who happens to agree and puts it in front of someone who can do something about it but most people take baby little steps out of the slush with little wins, short story placements and contacts in the industry.
It's not that you're not good enough to be published... it's the nature of new writers to create slush and the publisher's reaction to it that is dragging you down.
If the state of the market is too much to bear, give up. Just write for yourself, or take up crochet. You can always sell a few doilies or those loo roll covers. Perhaps that would be more satisfying.