A double dose of authors this week. First up is a guest blog from Luke Ahearn, discussing something most authors know all too much about.
Rejection is a word I take issue with, especially in the context of being a writer. It is an especially toxic word for a writer and will do great damage if you let yourself buy into the notion of rejection. A rejection is a very personal act and attacks a writer in the place where he most needs to be protected and reassured. Finally, and most importantly, it is completely inaccurate. And that’s the good news! You don’t have to deal with rejection; it simply doesn’t exist when trying to get published. The bad news is that virtually every writing teacher uses the term. It is my opinion that those teachers be dragged out of the classroom and beaten in the parking lot. It is a crime to teach someone that information and feedback is rejection. The writer wasn’t rejected, they were informed!
So, no rejection huh? That’s right. Nowhere does a publisher use the word reject or rejection. A publisher doesn’t want you to feel rejected. What most people are calling rejection is, in fact, valuable information. Most of the time a publisher or agent passes on work not because of the writing, but because of mistakes made in the submission process. That’s great news because those are easy to fix errors.
The notion of rejection blinds people to this information. If you sent your epic adult romance novel to a Mr. or Mrs. To Whom It May Concern at ABC Children’s books you are asking to be turned down. Many authors don’t realize that feedback, a reply of any kind, is valuable information and not a rejection. Looking at it as a personal rejection and pinning it to the wall is to completely miss the value of it. A very impersonal response may mean you made big errors in the submission of your work and were filtered out immediately. Maybe you put the wrong name on the envelope or a generic honorific. Perhaps you are sending the publisher a genre they don’t publish. Maybe you didn’t give them the physical format they requested, you know: 1 inch margins, double-spaced, font and size, etc. So, a printed form telling you they are not interested, or must pass on your work, may mean you were filtered out early, whereas a more personal letter means you made it farther through the submission process. When a publisher gives you a list of specific information such as the genre they are interested in, who to submit it to, and how to submit it, and usually much more, you can get far just by delivering what they want.
Believe it or not, even with all the talk of competition (another blog post I assure you) publishers are usually starved for good content. It is my understanding that there is a dearth of publishable material. Publishers would love to get that great material but I suspect a lot of good writing is filtered out early on. My theory is that the really creative types with great stories are often terrible at details like names and formatting. It’s the pinheads that are good at that stuff, but bad at creative storytelling, that are choking the publishers and agents with all their crap.
And that is because a lot of that crap is resubmissions. I am not talking about a submission someone worked hard on to improve but resending of the exact same package back to the publisher or agent. Resubmissions are a waste of everyone’s time and money and, believe it or not, publishers and agents get a lot of submissions that have already passed through their system and were filtered out. At first I thought the people resubmitting like that were stupid, but I realized that they simply weren’t taught how much control they have over the writing and publishing process. Most aspiring writers are taught that the whole shebang is all personal and you will get rejected many, many, times. So in the mind of the wide-eyed aspiring writer it’s all luck and a personality contest. So, if it’s all the luck of the draw, it stands to reason they would treat a submission like a lucky lottery number and play it again and again hoping to win the next time around.
If you look at why your work wasn’t picked up by a publisher, you will learn what to fix. Each time you improve your submission or the work, you get farther up the ladder of success. And it doesn’t take much to move up that ladder. Especially nowadays as the computer makes it infinitely easier to find the right publisher or agent for your submission. You can also self-publish and that allows a writer to accomplish many goals that were impossible a short time ago. Not everyone wants or needs to go the traditional publishing route. What route should you take? That is yet another topic for a future posting.
I have read that publishers estimate that up to eighty percent of their submissions are filtered out for the simplest of reasons. There are numerous articles on the submission process and most publishers and agents give a great deal of information on the Do’s and Don’ts of the submission process as it pertains to their company or agency. They will usually tell you what they are looking for and everything you need to know to send to them.
I have taken and audited several college level writing classes. Every professor had a doctorate and none of them had any significant publishing credits. They all spoke with great authority on the submission process that resulted in a mountain of rejection slips. They told tales of the great literary genius (referring to themselves of course), who even had a doctorate (they always make sure to mention that!) that submitted their work hundreds of times and collected hundreds of rejections and pinned them to the wall. In their minds they are thinking, all these rejections prove that publishers are assholes and will assuredly reject you if they rejected a genius such as me (with my doctorate). They believe it must be personal if they didn’t get published and yet they fail to understand how the submission process works and that publishing is a business. Publishers are concerned with markets, profits, genre popularity, audience size, and more. If you can demonstrate an understanding of that in your submission it goes a long way towards your success.
So… What, you may ask, should I do if I actually get a hateful, personal, letter that uses the word reject, rejection, or ‘big steaming pile’? That’s easy, first ask yourself, do I know this person? Is this the guy I left at the prom for the janitor? Is this the girl I made vomit by pouring salt in her milk at summer camp? Is this the neighbor whose purebred dog I shaved right before a national dog show? Ok, if it isn’t someone you personally wronged, then move on to number two.
Number two is asking yourself, “What the hell is this person’s problem?”
It isn’t you, a reply like that means the sender has a mental problem. Case closed. But most importantly, would you want to be in a relationship with a person like that? Would you want to sign contracts with them? Would you want to trust your creation with them?
There are just too many audiences, markets, topics, and writers just like you with your unique perspective to ever go unpublished. The first thing you must do is to drop the word rejection from your vocabulary and look at people who use it with contempt and disgust, with a dash of pity (but mostly contempt and disgust).
The Euphoria Z Series
Publisher: Luke Ahearn
Date of Publication: April 25, 2016
Number of pages: 194
Word Count: 56,200
Transition is the third book of the Euphoria Z Series set in a post-apocalyptic California.
The post-apocalyptic world is in transition. While things may seem safer, a great danger lurks under the surface and sometimes from above.
What does the Island have to do with the state of the world, and the invisible creatures? New threats arise and evil is tracked down. Will this finally be the end for Ben and his psychopathic lifestyle?
Continue the adventure as we find out what happened to Cooper, Lisa and the others
It doesn’t rain frequently in San Jose, California and when it does it’s a quick gray affair that rinses away dust and freshens the air. Every few years there’s a day or two of torrential downpours, interspersed by widespread drizzling and dripping. And rarely, as was the case this day, the skies opened and dumped a decade’s worth of rain upon the city in only a few days. These rare downpours could last days and do substantial damage citywide.
The downpour was so heavy it was impossible to see farther than a few hundred yards. Water ran from the highest spots in the city and merged into thick fast flowing rivers on its journey downhill. It gushed down streets, blasting over curbs and past sign posts, taking away anything that wasn’t nailed down. The waters were black with months of accumulated filth and foamed with the runoff of a million miles of city streets. The fine dust of millions of corpses, that which wasn’t already blown away by the winds, was swept into storm drains and out to the Pacific Ocean.
But the most alarming aspect of the rainstorm by far was the thunder and the lightning. Every few minutes great jagged bolts of light arced across the sky, illuminating the world in blinding flashes, followed moments later by the thunder, a terrifying sound as if the heavens were being torn open. Then cascading booms shook the earth for long moments after.
One of these giant flashes illuminated the inside of a dark warehouse revealing a world of crisp black shadows and harsh blinding whites. For a split second a human shape was visible laying atop a large worktable. It resembled the sarcophagus of a long dead pharaoh. Puddles of odd liquids had collected under the body and run off the edge, hardening in long stalactites of black and dark red. A minor flash revealed a hardened shell, mottled with the same black and reddish hues. The long low rumble of the distant thunder that followed caused an eye to twitch. A loud crack and a blinding flash of light caused both eyes to open wide in shock and fear. A high-pitched keening could be heard emanating from the misshapen body on the table.
Slowly a hand rose, the cracking of dried viscera was faint but clearly audible above the muted pounding of rain. The open eyes, clear and green, regarded a grotesque hand armored in a red and black crust. The arm dropped and the eyes closed. The thrumming of the rain and intense fatigue made slipping back into the sweet darkness of sleep all too easy.
Later, a blinding flash of light and the ensuing crack of thunder caused the figure to startle awake. Fat drops of water fell almost forty feet from the compromised skylights above creating a loud rhythmic clunk, clunk, clunk as they struck a crustaceous shell. There was a hiss as breath was sucked inwards through thin reddish tubes that hung over a tiny mouth. The creature spasmed at the discomfort as air filled its long dormant lungs.
The figure rolled awkwardly left and right as it attempted to stand. Dried viscera cracked and crunched and fell away in large chunks. It stopped to rest a few times until eventually, with great effort, it rolled on its stomach and swung its legs off the table, pushing itself to a standing position in a sort of diagonal pushup. It struggled to stay upright as it took one awkward step forward, then another.
The heavy armored shell made walking difficult and uncomfortable. Each labored movement caused the figure to hiss and gasp. It took three steps and bent forward over the table to rest. The effort was exhausting and the armored plates tugged at odd spots and pinched and pulled on the raw skin beneath.
Many laborious steps later and the creature was nearing the door to the warehouse. The effort was exhausting, the movement unnatural, and feelings of weakness and nausea were overwhelming. But a sense of urgency drove the creature forward. It knew that it must get out of that dark place. There was somewhere it had to be.
The warehouse door swung open and wind blasted cold rain across the armored body, but it felt nothing. It looked down, apparently just now gaining a sense of awareness beyond wakefulness and the desire to escape the dark building. Groggily it tugged on a section of armored shell as if it was just now noticing it. The skin beneath pulled, the shell seemed to be attached to flesh like that of a lobster or crab. A disfigured hand rose up, lightning flashed and a gasp of horror came from the bulbous armored head as it looked with revulsion at its own red and black armored appendage.
The creature looked to the sky and stepped into the torrential downpour. It shuddered as icy rain made its way beneath its armored plates. A shell loosened from a forearm and with a touch clattered to the ground. The rainwater stung like fire and the figure backed into the warehouse staring at raw skin glistening with red wetness. The unprotected skin was as sensitive as that of a newborn babe. The arm went back into the rain and recoiled again as if the rain water was scalding. It tried again and again until it could stand the pounding rain.
Eventually it stepped out into the deluge and disappeared into the blinding storm.
Lisa barely remembered her own name when she awoke, but now it was all coming back to her as she shuffled along in the downpour and she grew more and more terrified. She had no idea what had happened to her or what was happening to her presently. She remembered hiding in the safe room and later talking to the creature. Another piece of her exoskeleton fell away and she shivered as cold rain pounded her left shoulder. It didn’t hurt as bad as the first time rain hit her flesh. She almost tripped when most of the shell on her right leg fell away all at once. It was as if she were molting like a crab. She was sick, weak, and terrified. She had no idea what had happened to her but everything about her body felt different and weird.
About the Author:
Luke Ahearn was born in New Orleans, LA and now lives in Central California. He is a successfully published author of both fiction and nonfiction, most recently completing Transition, the third book in the Euphoria Z Series. He has over 20 years of professional game development experience in lead positions; designer, producer, and art director.Luke is also a book cover designer interested in supporting his fellow authors. He hates writing about himself in the third person, but thinks it makes him sound more substantial.
He can be reached at www.LukeAhearn.com
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