Books, Publishing, and the Creative Life

Posts tagged ‘writing books’

Rejection — it Hurts!

Rejection is one of the reasons I became a publisher.  As a literary agent, I found myself with half a dozen perfectly fine manuscripts I couldn’t sell to publishers. The authors had strong marketing plans, the topics seemed timely, and the writing was professional.  Yet, these books couldn’t find a home. We organized our own publishing firm (NorLightsPress) to get these books into the marketplace.  We also wanted to publish two novels of my own that were gathering dust.NLP-Short-Logo

Yes, I too have been stung by the barbs of rejection. Several large publishers considered my first novel, but in the end it landed on the rejection pile because it didn’t fit a specific genre. I finally went with an indie publisher, but that turned out to be a rip-off and I had to buy back the rights to my own work.  An expensive lesson.  Becoming a publisher at least ensured I wouldn’t fall into that trap again.

RejectionNow I want to further explore REJECTION.  Why do publishers reject perfectly good books?  Because sometimes rejection isn’t based on the quality of your work—it’s because of publishing issues you can’t control and may not know about:

1. The publisher may already have one or more books on a particular topic. They don’t want to publish another book that will compete with what they’ve already placed on the market. Doing so  wouldn’t be fair to their authors. (To get around this issue, you might offer a book that supports what they already have in print, but doesn’t compete).

2. The publisher had bad luck with books on the same topic and doesn’t want more of them.  Unfortunately there’s no perfect way for you to know which books aren’t doing well for a publisher unless you have access to their sales figures. However, if you have a topic in mind, check a similar book’s Amazon page for sales rankings and customer reviews.

3. A topic was popular, but is no longer hot with the public. Check the bestseller list to see what’s popular, but keep in mind the public’s taste changes often.

4. The competition in a particular genre (especially fiction) is so intense that only a few books can be chosen.  It’s like a Miss USA contest with a thousand contestants instead of fifty-one. The judges are overwhelmed by too much of a good thing.

5. Here’s a big one: The author doesn’t have a strong marketing plan.  Even with fiction, which does not require a book proposal, publishers need to know you can sell books without their help. You need a detailed and comprehensive marketing plan that heavily incorporates social media—book blogs, book sites, and electronic media.

6. Publishers thrive on imprints and genres. If your book is a hybrid (like mine), it will be harder to sell. In years past, booksellers needed to know where they should place a book within the store.  Now, online sellers like organize their lists and marketing around genres.

I could list a dozen more reasons for rejection, but you get the idea.

And here’s the amazing thing: By following the six guidelines above, a publisher may be DEAD WRONG about your book. The truth is, no one really knows what’s going to sell and what isn’t.  Every book is a gamble.  Publishers like us try to even the odds by following best practices, but we’re often wrong.  Joe Biel, the publisher behind Microcosm Publishing says, “Books that sold into the tens of thousands, or more, were books that we were worried wouldn’t sell. Ironically, when we try to make informed decisions to develop titles for commercial success, they always fall flat.”

Joe points out that the books they believed in because of content, not commercial ability, were the ones that immediately took off.  There’s certainly a lesson to be learned here, but larger publishers are less able to take chances because their books are filtered through editorial committees.  Indie publishers are more nimble.Rejection 2

At NorLightsPress, we agree with Joe Biel.  Like his firm, NorLightsPress is more about passion than profit.  We want our books to add value to the world, and we would do this for free if we had to.  We do have to reject many books. But we do it with compassion, because we know rejection hurts.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?  attitude-affects-work




Dialogue for Writers — Coming Soon!

FRONT cover final I’m excited! My new book Dialogue for Writers: Create Powerful Dialogue in Fiction and Nonfiction will be published by NorLightsPress on April 15.  This is be my first published work in several years, because I’ve been using my creative talent (such as it is) to work on other people’s books.  But a few months ago, my husband Dee goaded me into action. Thank you, Dee!  And now the book is ready.   It’s available for pre-order on at this address:

Why did I choose to focus on dialogue?  Because dialogue seems easy to write, but isn’t.  Yet, it can make or break a book, article, or screenplay.  Dialogue is the ultimate power trip: We put words into the mouths of other people.  We decide what they say and how they say it. The writer is totally in charge—except when our characters come to life and take over, which is even MORE fun.

Many writers haven’t tapped into the power of dialogue for genres such as journalism, family history, journals, poetry, and memoir. Dialogue for Writers will be the only book on the market that explores dialogue for all these genres, plus children’s books, graphic novels, screenplays, and general fiction.

A few tips and tricks from Dialogue for Writers:

Tension, Conflict, and Suspense

If you don’t build at least one of these elements into each scene, you have no story.

  1.  Goals and motivation create tension.  Every character in every scene should have a goal and motivation.  Don’t let them speak without it.
  2. If two characters’ goals and motivation clash—all the better.  Now you have conflict, plus added tension.
  3. What happens next?  Make the readers curious: Then you have suspense.

Show, Don’t Tell       

Don’t use dialogue tags to tell how people speak.  Show it with action.

Telling:  “Come here!” Tom ordered.

Showing: “Come here!” Tom waved me closer.

Telling: “I’m so sorry,” she apologized.

Showing: “I’m sorry, Tom.” She threw back her head and stared at the ceiling.

I’ll be posting more tips and techniques from the book in the coming days.  I hope it will benefit writers in every genre!   If you’d like to review Dialogue for Writers on your blog, on Amazon, or anywhere else, please let me know and I’ll send you a book.  

attitude-affects-work  As always, I enjoy reading your comments!


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