Rejection letters and friendly fire

If you’re going to be a writer, you can take it as read that you will receive rejection letters. Not everything you do will be deemed worthy of publication. Sometimes the worthiness of your work will not be determined by the quality of your writing or ideas. Commercial considerations will generally carry the day. In the current economic climate, this is even more likely.

Truth is, you’re going to need to develop thick skin. Negative feedback is inevitable. (Hopefully it will be buried beneath a mountain of plaudits though.)

When I sought publishers for Game as Ned, I found myself with a couple of offers to print it. This enabled me to obtain representation from a literary agent. My agent then passed the manuscript on to other publishers to gauge the level of interest.

The final scorecard was two interested publishers, one direct rejection letter and four “no thank yous” sent to my agent.

One of the advantages to having an agent is that the rejection letters often contain useful appraisals of your work – things that you can address in a rewrite. If you submit a manuscript direct to a publisher, the “thanks but no thanks” is likely to be an impersonal form letter.

Feedback from family, friends and readers is an entirely different kettle of fish. It can make you smile or sting like hell. You need to accept that all readers have different tastes. I’ll wager you don’t enjoy everything you read, either.

So while you’re still developing that armadillo-esque hide, you might want to choose carefully who you show your labour of love to. Constructive, considered criticism is worth copping. Thoughtless feedback is potentially damaging and best binned as soon as possible. Think on it only as long as the unhelpful people who vomited it out did.

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