This week I focused on that short, one page document that writers agonize over for days, and sometimes weeks, at a time: the query letter. I finally finished the short and steamy story I started working on back in late August.
With the completion of One Night in Jamaica, I was faced with a few options, mainly to self-publish or not to self-publish. Even though I wrote my sultry story with the intent that I would submit it to an electronic publisher, when the time came for me to submit, I had some doubts.
I did my research and found a handful of e-pub houses that accepted shorter stories (most want something that is at minimum 10,000 words, which is where my story is at). True to my “to-do list” form, I comprised a list, a submission plan, of each publishing house and what line my story would fit into. That was my plan…
To deviate or not to deviate?:
But when I finished One Night in Jamaica I started to back pedal. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the story was good. It wasn’t that the story had gotten poor feedback from my beta readers, quite the opposite ;-).
It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to write a query letter or even that I didn’t want to. It was knowing that I could get rejected. And not just from one publishing house, but what if I got rejected by all of them that I submitted to? 😦
I struggled with that nagging thought and seriously considered scratching the whole submittal process and uploading the manuscript directly to Kindle. But then I remembered an article I read last year…
Handling rejection like a pro:
Last spring when there was a lot of media buzz around writer Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help I read an article online that talked about the long and winding road the story took toward publication. When I read it, one thing leapt out at me from the page. The Help was rejected 60 times. 60!
I have to hand it to Ms. Stockett’s perseverance. It’s that same perseverance that made me feel like a whiny baby that needed to suck it up, submit my story and wait and see what happens.
And that’s what I did.
I wanted to try something new with my writing, so I tried writing in a different sub-genre. If I get rejected, I’ll follow in the footsteps of Ms. Stockett and keep trying until I get it right:
“Maybe the next book will be the one,” a friend said. Next book? I wasn’t about to move on to the next one just because of a few stupid letters. I wanted to write this book. -Kathryn Stockett, on The Help being rejected.
Such wisdom. Such tenacity. Such sound advice.
As writers we can’t let rejection, whether real or feared, stop us from writing the stories we want to write.
3 thoughts on “What Every Writer Can Learn From the Perseverance of Kathryn Stockett”
I like to think of the rejection letter as feedback. Less painful and more productive. You are right about the tenacity Ms. Stockett’ showed. It preserves my hopeful inspiration and encourages me to keep trying. Best of luck in your efforts!