Rejection Letters Are No Badge of Honor

© Can Stock Photo / stuartmiles

I enjoy talking with prospective authors, but whenever a first-time author starts bragging about all the rejection letters he or she has received, as if it were some kind of honor, it gives me pause for thought. While they’re busy collecting all those letters, their manuscripts sit around collecting dust for months, even years, without being read.

As I often tell people, six-figure advances, and all the fame that comes with being an author, is more myth than fact. Unless you already happen to be a famous a celebrity, the odds of a major publishing house buying your manuscript, and you becoming rich and famous, especially if you’re a first-time author, are about as good as going to Hollywood with no prior acting experience, walking into a motion picture studio, and landing a starring role in a feature film.

This is why I never bothered playing the rejection letter game. Life is simply too short for that kind of nonsense. I’ve heard similar stories about trying to find an agent. While I’m sure there are plenty of good literary agents out there, far too many of them are full of more you-know-what than the Thanksgiving turkey. I hear the same story, over and over again, from prospective authors. “I emailed a query to an agent. They got back with me right away and wanted to see my manuscript, but it’s been ages, and I haven’t heard from them since. So when will they get back with me?”

Um…they’re not.

As I mentioned before, I have better things to do than waste my time playing games because I want to get my books in reader’s hands. So, when I first started out in the writing business, I began with partnership publishing.

Partnership publishing is when you take control and you pay someone to publish your book. You may be thinking it’s “vanity publishing,” but it’s actually not. It’s a business decision, and it means you believe in your work enough that you’re willing to invest your own money into it. Most importantly, you retain the rights to your work instead of selling them to a publisher. With partnership publishing, the publisher does the formatting, cover design, printing and distribution, much like a traditional publisher would do. However, your book is usually published in weeks instead of years, and a publishing partner won’t drop you if your book fails to meet their expectations.

Please be aware that there are good and bad partnership publishing companies out there, so it’s best to do your homework first. Writer Beware is an excellent resource for finding out whose business practices are questionable. You’ll also want shop around for the best price and be sure to ask about distribution. If they’re not distributing through Ingram or Baker & Taylor, or both, you may have trouble getting your book into bookstores or libraries.

And here’s a final thought. A reputable partnership publisher probably won’t accept a poorly written book, so please be sure you’re using proper grammar and punctuation, and that your story is well told. You’ll also need to have your book professionally edited.

So, it’s up to you. Do you spend the next few years collecting rejection letters while your book remains unread? Or do you want to take control of your destiny and get your book into the hands of readers? The choice is yours.

Gayle Martin