Something one of my acquisition editors once said to me was, "I feel bad sometimes when we get a manuscript that's not quite there yet and I have to reject it. The writer shows potential and I wonder if this rejection letter is going to make them give up completely when they really shouldn't."
Yes, folks, slush readers *do* have feelings. Well, most of them.
Because here is what I think: if one form letter rejection letter is going to crush your dreams, you shouldn't be in this business. If a hundred rejection letters deter you, you shouldn't be in this business. I don't care how good a writer you are--if you don't have a thick skin, you shouldn't pursue publication.
Once you get that acceptance letter, do you think everything is going to be golden? That you'll skip through the tulips singing tralala and everyone will be singing your praises?
Um, no. When you enter the publishing industry, you need to check these delusions at the door because that's not how it happens.
Form letter rejections sting, yes, because they're a *rejection*. But they're not a personal attack on you, the writer. They're not even an attack on your work. Most of the time, you won't know why an editor decided to pass, which I grant you is frustrating.
But once a book is published? Get ready, because that's when it can and *does* often get personal.
You need a thick skin because of reviewers. Most don't mince words. Though there are some around who just stroke a writer's ego, the really good ones readers listen to will have no qualms about pointing out the many reasons why they disliked your book.
AND you can't talk back. At all. Even if you read the review and suspect the reviewer didn't even *read* your book because they got a character's name wrong. Even if you suspect they're just stupid and missed the point of your brilliance. If you, the author, talk back, you'll have the reputation of an ungrateful diva. Sending fans to harass said reviewer means people will be hesitant to review future work by you. You'll become a cautionary tale like Alice Hoffman.
Hearing bad things about your work HURTS. Even if you're a narcissist like me and think, "Wow, this person clearly doesn't have good taste" when you read a bad review--it's still painful.
Think you can take reviewers, though? Wait 'til you start hearing from readers.
There is no greater sense of entitlement than with readers sometimes. You expect your readership to develop into fans. You expect fans to, well, behave like people who enjoy your work. But if a storyline doesn't go the way they want it to? If you kill a character they love? If you decide to work on a different series than the one they've been enjoying? If they don't feel your latest book is up to par?
Your "fans" can, and often do, tear you apart. And, again, you *can't* go insane and yell at them. Anyone remember the Anne Rice meltdown on Amazon a few years ago where she responded to a bunch of negative reviews? Another cautionary tale.
Fan mail also seems like a wonderful thing, but I've received my fair share of ones that, while complimenting some of my work, insult some of my other work. "Well, I kind of liked this, but this book really was lame," is like a slap in the face. Even if intellectually you disagree, emotionally it can be crushing to hear something negative from someone who claims to enjoy your work.
Kids, all of this really does hurt. It sucks to hear these things. We writers are a flighty bunch--hearing these things on the wrong day can be devastating to our productivity.
But once you're published, your book isn't your baby anymore. It's not your art. It's a product and there are consumers of those products. And since consumers are the ones shelling out the money for the product, if they are not completely satisfied, you *will* know about it. Whether their criticisms are valid or not, hearing them sucks.
And you're a product too. As an author, you're being packaged and sold to people to help sell your book. Your not a person anymore--people will say things to you about your work that they wouldn't dream of saying to anyone they know.
That is the reality of publishing.
When people tell you that you need a thick skin, it's not because of the rejection letters. It's because of everything after acceptance. So when that next rejection letter comes and you're devastated, really question whether you're going to be able to take criticism on a fairly regular basis. Because the more you're published, and the more well known you become, the more horrible things you're likely to hear. You have to either toughen up or keep your writing as a hobby, because sensitivity doesn't last around here.
7 hours ago