Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Some Thoughts on Publishing and Rejection

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some Thoughts on Publishing and Rejection

Today as I was doing first page critiques on Wattpad, I ran across a message from a follower of mine asking how I deal with the constant threat and reality of rejection as a writer. My response to her got a bit longer than the standard e-mail, and I think it's got some points that other people will find interesting as well, so I'm going to share it here.

My response below. Thanks to @fairyfree on Wattpad for the question. :-)

As for your question: Yes, rejection is common and brutal. And I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. Despite having put twelve years into this, holding a college degree in creative writing, and working as an editor, I've had people talk to me like I first picked up a pen yesterday. Some of them have the best of intentions, and some of them don't. Either way, it still hurts. 

For me, that's harder to deal with than rejection. Rejection can happen for so, so many more reasons than bad writing. It can be because a publisher already has too many books like the one you're submitting, or because the editor dislikes something about your writing that another editor might love, or simply because they were tired and grumpy and not in a mood to cut you any slack when they were reading your submission.

Publishing is an incredibly subjective business. Every piece of writing has an audience, and just because something isn't likely to be commercially successful (Soulwoven, for instance), doesn't mean it's not good. But publishers are businesses, and they can't afford to acquire things they don't think will be commercially successful, so not everything gets acquired. 

So don't despair over rejection. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're a bad writer or that you're doing anything wrong (though I certainly had bad novels of mine rightfully rejected early in my career). In the end, if you're writing books that you're proud of, you're winning, period. Readers are a remarkably varied and forgiving group of people, and if you love your work, someone else out there will too, even if it's not a publisher.

Happy Saturday, folks. Everyone is out of town today, so I'm working through the weekend. Wish me luck. :-)

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