The monthly August 1 question asked by the IWSG group is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?
If there is a major pothole a writer should avoid falling into, it’s the fear of rejection. I fell into it, and am just about getting out of it. Now that I look back, maybe (partly at least) it was because I revered authors. Whether it was Charles Dickens or Minette Walters, it didn’t matter. How could I even dream of walking amongst them?
The fear of not being good enough paralysed me for years. I had wanted to write a novel since I was ten actually, and I wrote several, starting from the time I was a teenager. Not just novels and novellas, but short stories, fan fiction, and screenplays. I would read these out to friends and family off and on, but never sent anything for publication because I was sure it wasn’t good enough. I threw almost all of my early writings away, except for the poetry.
I became a journalist, and a fairly good one at that. I liked to see my byline out there in mainstream newspapers and I liked the paychecks. Often, I would submit a humour piece or a short story, and my editors liked it and published it. But I didn’t really think I could write a whole novel. The project fell by the wayside. When I did draft a novel one day, it was in a tentative fashion. Then I kept it away and concentrated on my “real” work.
Last year, my daughter told me it was time I published it. So what if it was rejected she said. That didn’t mean it was bad. I was an experienced writer now. She was right. The years of writing had done me well. My words flowed better. I felt more confident and decided that I was ready to face rejection. So I re-wrote my crime novel and was happy with the result.
But when I sent in the book proposals, I got rejection after rejection. The no-replies were the worst. It was clear to me now. No one even wanted to read my novel, although I had read up on how to make a good book proposal.
I read up on self-publishing. Most of what I read was discouraging. Besides the obvious challenges that were underlined, the message was that if the holy grail of traditional publishers did not want even want to read it, something must be wrong with the book. I did not let it get me down. I sent my novel out to beta readers, and now it’s just come back from a professional edit. The cover design has been commissioned.
I will be publishing this year for sure.
My belief in my writing won over. I wish I had done it earlier.
My advice is to avoid the trap I fell into. Once you have done all you can, don’t be afraid of rejection.