After you’ve written what you feel is an outstanding story, poured your heart out onto the paper, splattered each page with your imaginary blood, you send the manuscript off to publishers, only to receive rejection after rejection. You begin to doubt yourself, to wonder if you really have what it takes to be a writer.
That’s when you need to step away for a moment, to take a few deep breaths, and bust a move.
In all seriousness, there are many publishers out there. Some are larger companies while others are small. J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were both rejected many times. But they kept at it. They kept writing even though life and family got in the way. They kept submitting. In fact, I read in King’s book, On Writing, about how he would have the rejection slips hanging from a spike on his bedroom wall. Finally, publishers took a risk on them, and the rest is history.
One of the best ways to start the submission process is to research the publisher to see if they take your genre. Look at their submission page. If they do, follow the guidelines there. A manuscript will be rejected faster than your head can spin if you don’t. There are a ton of sites on the web with information on writing a good query letter. Here is one of them: http://www.writerscircle.com/page/3/
Make sure to polish your manuscript through good editing, beyond what a family member or friend who has no editing experience can do. Even if you know the publisher will assign it to an editor after acceptance, this is one step you don’t want to skip. If you are serious about writing, it will help your work stand out above the rest. Whether you are going the traditional route or self-publishing, a manuscript that is polished and as free of errors as possible has a much better chance of being looked at by both reader and publisher than ones that bypassed this important step altogether.
Develop a thick skin. Some rejection letters will be a form letter. Some may have a line or two jotted on them. If you get one of those, cherish it, even though it is a rejection letter. The person writing it took time out of their busy schedule to leave a message. If it includes how to improve the manuscript, heed the information, rewrite and resubmit. What have you got to lose.
Hopefully, the information in this posting is only a refresher to those reading it. Getting published nowadays is far easier than it used to be, what with all the different ways to self-publish. It’s easier to be traditionally published also because of the increased amount of small to medium sized publishers willing to take submissions without an agent. The days of six-figure advances are pretty much a thing of the past, unless you are lucky and get accepted by one of the major publishers. And even they aren’t giving advances like they used to.
In the end, continue to write. Continue to hold your head high at what you’ve accomplished: a completed manuscript. Continue to submit to publishers if you are going the traditional route. Just because it doesn’t fit with one publisher doesn’t mean it won’t with another.
And above all, remember to let your inner child come out and splash like there’s no tomorrow. You have to take time to play as well as work.