September 22, 2010

Promotion and Rejection

What I’m Reading Today: More Sherlock Holmes.

Have I mentioned that I can be a little obsessive? Once I get a bee in my bonnet about something, I spend all my available time trying to accomplish it. Lately, that bee has been all those promotional and social networking things a publisher expects of its authors. I haven’t gotten to that stage yet, but with any luck I’ll be there soon, and these efforts are a lot more successful the further out you start them. So I’ve been doing all this research ~ a bunch of online stuff and reading a bunch of books.

But what I really want to do is write. I want to be writing my fiction! I’ve started revising a novel I wrote a while ago, and I was in a sweet spot ~ got a whole new take on it, a luscious voice and a couple of great points of view and I’ve already worked out the plot. I was making great progress.

I miss it.

My husband, that very smart man and a wonderful iconoclast, said that I was going to miss that time when I was just writing without the pressure. But, you know, if serendipity comes your way, you need to take full advantage of it. Who knows? It may be your only shot.

With that mournful lament, I thought I’d pass along this great bit I read yesterday in the inestimable M.J. Rose and Angela Adair-Hoy’s book How to Publish and Promote Online. This is from M.J. Rose’s chapter "Last Words":

Like it or not, people say no more than they say yes. But when I started out on my own in the publishing business I got paralyzed by the first few dozen no’s that I heard. Rejection is tough on even the most self-confident person. …

So I was telling a friend, who is a professional fundraiser, about my dilemma. She laughed and told me that in her business that the no’s are a good thing. “For each no you are getting closer to a yes,” she said. She even had a mathematical equation she’d worked out from ten years of experience. She had to get fifteen no’s to get a yes. And since she was asking for contributions for a worthwhile charity, her no-to-yes ratio would be lower than mine would. I could count on a thirty-to-one no-to-yes ratio.

So I started to tally the no’s.

In the first two weeks I got ten no’s.

In the second two weeks, twelve no’s. (I was starting to get excited, twenty-two no’s down, only eight to go. Finally, after six weeks and thirty-four no’s, I heard one wonderful, resonant yes. These no’s and yes’s were about getting a major reviewer to read my self-published novels.)

A funny thing happened to me in those weeks. I went from dreading and hating the no’s to understanding something about them. They represented hard work and determination on my part. I was proud of those no’s. Plus, the no’s were important. They weeded out the people I really didn’t want to review the novel anyway. Only someone who truly was open to the idea that a self-published novel could be any good was the right person to read it.

Yes! She so eloquently says something I’ve long thought. Being successfully published is a process, and no’s are a sign of progress. In fact, my husband congratulates me every time I get a no (a rejection) because it’s something to celebrate. (It all goes along with my haystack theory of publishing).

Did you get rejected today? CONGRATULATIONS! See it for the forward momentum that it is and go celebrate!

Questions of the Day: What do you think about authors promoting themselves? Are you old-school and think they should focus only on the writing? And what about rejections? How do you handle them?


Brad Green said...

Now that's pretty interesting. A good way to think about things. I needed something to alter my dour outlook, so thanks for this.

Tamara said...

It's so easy to be dour!

(Thank you.)

Pembroke Sinclair said...

The idea of authors only writing is a bygone dream. Unless you have a recognizable name, you are going to be out there doing legwork. The good thing about becoming famous, though, is that you don't have to do your day job. Even though you have to promote your own work, your free time is devoted to working on the new novel. It all works out!

Tamara said...

I guess that's why it's called a "dream"! *sigh*

Court said...

An easy-to-recall mathematical formula for quantifying rejections ... I like it a good deal. Like Brad, it's a useful perspective to have. Think I may begin to apply it. Thanks for posting.

Tamara said...

Thank you, Court!

Yes. Definitely good to find ways to gain perspective that don't all involve alcohol. :-)