Failing My Way to the Top – The Life of a Writer


Thank you, sir!  May I have another?

Thank you, sir! May I have another?

I have no idea how today’s post is going to be perceived because I’m just thinking out loud, and it’s really hard to gauge my mood.   For lack of a better phrase, I am emotionally numb.  I am a writer, which goes hand and hand with copious amounts of rejection.  In the beginning, you are genuinely hurt by it.  Then with each subsequent rejection it stings a little less.  I received word yesterday from my agent about another rejection from a major player.  This rather “mousy” company asked for a second look at the Takers, and for a second time they passed.

I should be upset, and trust me it wasn’t fun getting the email, but I was surprisingly detached from the bad news, and I’m trying to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I spent most of last night wondering if I have very thick skin or an incredible ability to suppress disappointment.  Is it okay to not care if I’m rejected by the gatekeepers to the industry?

I’m in a position where I’ve gotten closer than I ever have before as far as breaking through to the major traditional publishers.   They are actually holding meetings about my books.  I’m told that I should find solace in that fact alone.  And the first time, I did.  The fourth and fifth time it happened it wasn’t quite as comforting.  It was confusing.  How can the book get so close with so many publishers only to be turned away at the last step?

I love my agent and this is no reflection on her.  Ultimately, I have to take blame for the reception my book has received by the people in the know.  The reception I’ve gotten from the readers has been the polar opposite and frankly, may be why the rejection by the mainstream publishers doesn’t bother me as much as it should.  And yet, it does add to the confusion.  How can it be so well liked by the people who buy books, but  so uniformly doubted by those in the industry?  What am I missing?  I know that publishing companies want more than manuscripts today.  They want books that come with a built in brand.  While I’m not a complete unknown author thanks to the POD world, I am a little-known author.  Through this blog and Twitter and Facebook, I am building a platform that I hope to use to change that, and maybe that’s the only thing missing from the equation.

This is not my first time at the rodeo.  I have 8 books and 12 screenplays under my belt.  I’ve been rejected for 20 years by producers and publishers.  I’ve gotten close on several occasions, but I’ve never been able to close the deal.  Each time it doesn’t happen, I care a little bit less.  The question is at what point does not caring translate into not trying.    That point is not in sight as of yet, but it’s only logical to assume that I will get there.

I’m not writing anything new here.  There are literally tens of thousands of writers, a lot of them more talented than me, who feel just as overlooked and unloved by the mainstream publishing companies.  We’re all fighting for a very small number of publishing slots.  What my fellow writers and I have to keep in mind is that the publishing industry makes the wrong decision 70% of the time.  Only 30% of books published in the mainstream world make back the advance money they pay the authors.   Yet another reason I don’t feel so bad for being passed over time and time again.

I guess what I’m saying is while I don’t like rejection, I don’t sweat it either.  Thanks in large part to many of you out there who have accepted the books as they are written.  To the mainstream publishing world, the longer you wait, the steeper the price is going to be because I am going to fail my way to the top.  Just saying.

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3 thoughts on “Failing My Way to the Top – The Life of a Writer

  1. Hi,
    I just can’t believe that they keep rejecting The Takers. I am still “selling” the books to my students every semester and every semester they love them. I have students who have already read the first thriee and are asking about the fourth Oz book.
    I explain to them about you trying to be published and they cannot believe you haven’t either. I have even had former students, those that I no longer teach, that will stop me on campus to ask me about the fourth book. They are remembering the Oz books, even without me there to talk about them.
    I promised my students I would find out any new information I can about Oz 4. Don’t give up. Eventually people will get the drift that these books keep kids reading and they really love them.
    Nicole Forsgren

    • Nicole,

      Thank you! You’ve always been a great supporter of Oz and the gang, and it’s much appreciated. Book 4 is coming. Working on it now. Got a non Oz Book coming out soon.

      Thanks again!

  2. Pingback: You’re all great, and I’m okay failing my way to the top! « R.W. Ridley

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