Everything I’d heard about self-publishing is that it was impossible to make a living, reach readers, or produce a quality product. But last year (2010), I heard about how some other authors like Joe Konrath and Karen McQuestion are doing well with ebooks. So I thought that I had nothing to lose.
~ Amanda Hocking, author & millionaire
Knockbacks and continual rejection can be a major obstacle to prosperous productivity. We all want our work to be valued, and we want to feel wanted. So, when our work is criticized or rejected, it can be very easy to take things personally.
I know this feeling intimately. When I submitted my first romance and received feedback that the characters were dysfunctional it was a punch to my gut. Especially as the story had been influenced by events that had happened to me personally. Looking back, I shouldn’t have let the feedback stop me from writing love stories. But I did. For years.
I’ve since learned to look at criticism more dispassionately—even to welcome it as a tool to help me become a better writer. I’ve also learned to back myself and not take to heart the views of others.
My first critique was from the teachers of a course, and since then I had wondered what a ‘real’ rejection from a traditional publisher looked like. It became an obsession and I asked my writing friends to send me their rejections. In the process, I learned to fear rejection less.
Below is an excerpt from a rejection letter I received from Harlequin one year after attending a romance writers conference in New Zealand. Yes, you read it correctly. It took one year to finally receive a response—it’s pretty poor really, given the reason I attend conferences and go through the agony of pitching my book to a stranger is so that I can ‘fast-track’ my likelihood of success by getting in front of a publisher, agent or editor.
I now know that sometimes the fastest way to fast-track your success is to take control and self-publish—something multi-millionaire indie author Amanda Hocking also discovered.
On 30/06/2017, at 6:04 PM, XXX
(I’ve removed the editor’s name for confidentiality)
Apologies for taking so much longer to get back to you than I’d initially intended. Unfortunately, after looking the pages and discussing its place in the market with my wider team, we feel that Bride of Gold isn’t quite right for our list at this stage.
While this project isn’t quite right for us this time, please keep in mind considering manuscripts for publication is based on highly subjective reactions and another publisher may feel very differently. Thank you for giving us time to consider the project and best of luck for your future writing.
While the editor’s ‘feedback’ is scant (read useless in helpful, constructive criticism) she is right—“considering manuscripts for publication is based on highly subjective reactions and another publisher may feel very differently.”
You only have to look to J.K. Rowling or any of the many, many other ‘rejected’ authors for inspiration to persist and persevere.
When Amanda Hocking, an American writer of paranormal romance, first tried to find a publisher for her books in April 2010, she was knocked back—again and again.
“I tried to be traditionally published for about eight years,” Hocking once said.
Undeterred she began self-publishing her stories as e-books. “I’d written about 12 books when I decided to self-publish, and I thought it would be better than them sitting on my computer. Worst case scenario, nobody would read them, and that’s what was happening anyway.”
Sales were slow initially, but by March 2011, she had sold over a million copies of her nine books and earned two million dollars from sales, previously unheard of for self-published authors. In early 2011, Hocking averaged 9,000 book sales each day.
When asked in interviews if she has a daily routine Hocking said, “I don’t really have one, haha. I haven’t exactly figured out how to get into a writing routine yet. I’ve always kind of wrote when I wanted to. Once I get the idea in my head and get it outlined out, I usually just sit and write until it’s done.”
It didn’t take long for traditional publishers, lured by the scent of profit to sniff Hocking out. In March 2011, she signed her first conventional publishing contract for four books, at a price of two million dollars, with St. Martin’s Press.
Hocking’s success strategy? Being prolifically productive (When she was only 26 years old, the Minnesota native she had already written a total of 17 novels), pricing her books low (four of her books are 99 cents each, and the rest are $2.99) and sending her work to bloggers to review.
”I didn’t really have a strategy for marketing and publicising my books,“ says Hocking. “I think one of the advantages I have is that stuff considered marketing is stuff that I do a lot anyway. I’ve been active on social networks and blogs for years.
“I also send ARCs [advance review copies] out to book bloggers. Book bloggers are a really amazing community, and they’ve been tremendously supportive. They’ve definitely been a major force that got my books on the map.
“When I first published, I did do a bit of promoting on the Amazon forums, but they’re not really open to that, so I haven’t really interacted there much at all in months. I hang out Goodreads, Kindleboards, Facebook, Twitter, and I blog. And that’s about it.”
If you are an inspiring author the takeaway productivity hack is don’t let your work languish or die in the vaults of your PC. Take control of your writing empire and send it out again or consider self-publishing your work.
I did just that and here is the wonderfully encouraging feedback I received:
“What a wonderful book Bride of Gold was. I just couldn’t put it down. How wonderful you have written this love story with so much passion and fighting for love and acknowledgment one can give. Full of passion, love, and tenderness. Words can’t describe the real way I found this book. Fantastic.”~Istella
“I loved, loved, loved this book. It had me laughing, crying and gasping following the back and forth between Alexandra and Vitali!! I now want to go to New Zealand even more than I did before.” ~ Glenda.
“What an absolute treat to read a book without skipping over explicit scenes and This foul language. This is a very well-written story that you can use your own imagination at certain scenes. Mollie really hit a winner with this one. I read it in two sittings because I could not put it down. The back and forth between Alexandra and Vitali had me chuckling and intrigued as to what the results were going to be. I will be reading more written my Mollie Mathews!”
If you are an avid reading of romance be assured your feedback and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads encourages and inspires authors to keep writing.
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