You’ve written a manuscript. Well done. Seriously, you’ve already beat 90% of the competition. Unfortunately, you still have a long way to go. Here’s some writing motivation. A little pep-talk.
(This is my experience from the UK, but it is mostly applicable to everyone.
I recently saw a post on a writing forum about a newbie writer who had got their first twenty rejections and was thinking about self-publishing. They were sick of rejection. SICK. OF. REJECTION. After twenty rejections! WHAT?!
This made me sad. And then it made me giggle. And then it made me sad again.
If anyone is in this position: DON’T GIVE UP.
Speaking from experience (I crawled out of the query trenches and signed with my wonderful agent earlier this year, but we’ve not started the road to publication yet, so ya know, I’m only part way there… Stats and stuff here)
Here are some hard truths:
Your first manuscript will probably suck. And it probably won’t get you an agent. (Here are my thoughts about my abandoned manuscripts in Writer’s Purgatory)
I know. I know… that isn’t nice to hear. It sucked for me too. It probably sucked for every single one of your all-time favourite writers, as well. Hell, the pioneer of The One Great Novel, Harper Lee, published TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD out of the ashes of her “first manuscript” GO SET A WATCHMAN. So even she didn’t get it right straight away.
There are SO many people who spend years hammering that runt of a “first novel” into shape, to no avail. The truth is, like almost anything, you get better with practice; you get better at writing novels by… you guessed it… WRITING NOVELS!
Your first manuscript probably won’t make the cut. And it will break your heart. And you know what? Your second one will be a bit crappy, too. This is all to be expected. I know right now you’ll be sat there thinking you’re the exception to the rule. I did. I was adamant I was on to a winner, and the whole world was delusional because I was in love with it. Now? I wouldn’t even show my first manuscript to anyone. I couldn’t even read it MYSELF, it’s that terrible. But I believed in it at the time, with all my little heart. See, words have that power. When you live in a world for so long, you can’t help but fall in love.
But like any loves; some are doomed from the start.
I’m here to tell you: LET IT GO. Shop your first story everywhere you can… then let it go. See it as a learning curve. No written word is lost. Bring it back later, after you have an agent and a publishing contract.
Or better yet? Get some distance and realise you can do better.
And you can. YOU CAN DO BETTER.
Write the next one. Write the better one. Write with more passion. Level-up. That’s how you succeed. In fact, I think, it’s the ONLY way you succeed.
Twenty rejections are nothing. A hundred rejections are nothing. Keep going. And if this manuscript gets a “NO” from every single person in the industry? Try the next manuscript. And the next. And the next. Keep knocking on those doors, be better and fiercer than you’ve ever been before.
If you’re in it to publish THIS ONE BOOK, then honestly, have a re-think. You could waste years on this for nothing.
But if you want to write stories – one or three or five or fifty – then you’re in the right place. You’re in this for the long haul. Put yourself out there. Give it your heart and your soul and your blood.
Welcome to the club: this is the life for you.