Dramaquill's All Things Writing

January 26, 2010

To be a successful Writer – Part 3

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This next quality, patience, is one that I struggle with every single day.  By nature, I’m just not a patient person and I really have to take a breath and practise this quality.

If you really want to be a successful writer, you won’t survive without patience.

Have you ever submitted your work to a contest, publisher or agent?  Then you’ll know what I mean.  Either the wait times are so long (up to a year) or the guidelines state that you’ll only be contacted if they are interested in your submission.

Writers need to develop an ability to let go of their work once they’ve sent it out to someone.  With such long waiting periods, it’s the only way to survive.

And what do you do while you’re waiting?

You continue to write, revise and sub more pieces.  And, you continue to wait.

Waiting can be one of life’s biggest stress factors for those who cannot come to terms with being patient.

And with patience comes something else that I struggle with…not getting annoyed or restless while I’m waiting.  That’s the second half of patience and really the only way to survive in this business. 

But waiting to hear back on submissions isn’t the only area where a writer must embody patience.  Here are a few others:

  1. Waiting for your work to come out in print  (many magazines are
    buying pieces for issues 4 & 5 yrs. into the future).  Seeing your
    book in print can take years as well.  With editing, cover design,
    printing and binding the copies and distributing them to sellers, it’s
    a very lengthy process.
  2. Even with the excitement of having your writing accepted, there’s
    always a wait before the cheque arrives in your mailbox.  With many
    magazines paying on publication, you might have an acceptance
    in 2008 but the piece won’t be out until 2012, which is when you
    will receive payment.  Even publishers who pay on acceptance still
    take a couple of months at the least to send payment.
  3. Once your book is out there, you have to promote it and many
    writers do book signings, interviews and speaking engagements to
    get their name and the name of their book into the public eye.  With
    so much competition, not only from other authors but other sources
    of creative entertainment as well, promoting your book will be a
    time-consuming endeavour.

But above all, there is one area, more than any other, where you MUST be able to demonstrate your deepest form of patience, and that is when it applies to your writing and revising.  If you’ve never written a book before, it’s going to take patience to get it all down as well as organizing your plot, developing your characters and churning out that first draft.  Then, it will require more patience than you might imagine as you begin revising and rewriting. 

And impatient writer will not keep at it until the manuscript is the best possible version of the end product, likely sending out a subpar submission, resulting in a guaranteed rejection.

Have the patience to develop your patience.

July 31, 2009

The Positive Side of Rejection

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Okay, I know most of you read the title of this post and said, “come on, what’s so positive about another rejection?”

There’s a positive side to everything, even rejection, if you look for it.  Here are a few I’ve come up with after years of submitting (many acceptances but many more rejections):

1.        You’ve submitted to publishers that aren’t suitable for your piece.
            Read published works by houses to get a feel for the tone/style/
            voice/subject/length etc. already published by them.

2.        What was the reason for the rejection?  I received several rejections
            from a popular national kids’ magazine but when I started getting
           the reason (enjoyed your poems but unfortunately this issue is full),
           I knew they liked my work and resubmitted until I finally got 2

3.        At least rejections mean you’re subbing.  Many writers write but
            unless you sub, you’ll never realize that dream of becoming published.

4.        Did the editor or agent give you feedback?  Take the hint, revise and
            rewrite and sub again.

5.        If one of your pieces continues to get rejected, perhaps it isn’t ready
            to be subbed out.  These rejections can wake you up to the fact that
            a particular manuscript may need reworking before it’s ready.

6.        Who’s doing the rejecting?  If you’ve subbed to high end publishers,
            try smaller, less known presses first.  You have to start somewhere
            and the bigger the publisher, the harder for a newbie to break in.

7.        Did you follow the guidelines?  Some writers get rejected because
            they didn’t send what the publisher was looking for.  Don’t let that
            be you.  Do your research.

8.        Remember, they aren’t rejecting you, they’re rejecting one of your
            many pieces.  Don’t give up!  Keep subbing.

I will even go as far as to say that rejections can be a good thing.  For me, rejections make me push harder to do my best possible writing and to keep subbing.  If I hadn’t followed that advice, I wouldn’t have many of the acceptances I have managed to receive.

I don’t have a publisher for my debut suspense novel…yet.  But I’ve put it through a critique group twice, hired a professional author, published repeatedly in the same genre to critique it and I’ve revised and rewritten until I’m now certain it’s my best version of this story.  I’ve also researched publishers and agents.  I’m currently tweaking my query.  I’m not taking the chance of getting any unnecessary rejections.

Rejections are tough to handle – some more than others.  But take heart and learn what you can from them.

May 20, 2008


Why do you write?

I write because I have to.  I can’t stop the ideas from creeping into my mind and begging to be released onto paper. 

I write because I enjoy watching the effect my writing has on every reader.

I write because it’s part of my job – my favorite part!  (I write original playscripts for our drama department)

I write because, like most writers, I do want to be published. (Currently finishing my final revision on my adult suspense novel and working on a YA novel)

And luckily, I have had some success in the publishing world.  One of my essays was featured in a book published by Penguin Putnam called “Dear Mom:  I’ve always wanted You to Know

I’ve had some articles published online:
and in the ezine for Filbert Publishing.

Several of my children’s poems have appeared in both Online magazines as well as national children’s magazines:
http://www.weeonesmag.com/  (Sept. 2004 issue emag)
http://www.writing-world.com/foster/foster04.shtml  (April 2006 issue of Dragonfly Spirit emag)
http://www.myfriendmagazine.com/  (May 2005 magazine)
and two upcoming acceptances for 2009 in Hopscotch for Girls magazine (What’s a Marsupial? and The Language of Tap)

Subbing out your work, waiting for a rejection or acceptance, and waiting for the final product to hit the shelves can span from several weeks to several years.  I sometimes feel like being a writer is like being in the longest line at some government office – the line that seems to never move as the clock ticks away the moments of your life.

But there are things I can do while I play this neverending waiting game:

1.     Let go of whatever I’ve subbed out and get busy on the next project.
2.     Keep the file of rejections that proves I’m a working writer.
3.     Keep a two-year calendar and highlight all the dates of my acceptances so I
        can look forward to those days.
4.     Keep reading works in your chosen genres.
5.     Stay on top of new trends in the publishing world.
6.     Blog about how annoying wa

And hey, get up from the computer once in a while and remember that even though you’re working hard at being a writer, there’s still a whole wonderful world out there to enjoy.

 So – what are you waiting for?

December 30, 2007

Subbing out your writing

Congratulations – you have completed several manuscripts.  These could include a couple of NF articles, a childrens’ PB, a couple of kids’ poems and your first novel.

So your first thought is to send them out to all the publishers you can think of, right?

Not a good idea.

Many new writers make this same mistake, resulting in unnecessary rejections.  (That isn’t to say that polished pieces by seasoned writers always get accepted.  They don’t.)

If these are first drafts, don’t even think of sending them out yet.  No matter how brilliant you believe them to be, they aren’t ready for the keen eyes of an editor.

So what do you do?

Here’s my list of the steps you should take before subbing.  It still isn’t easy to get published and I consider myself fortunate to have cracked the magazine market with several paid pieces as well as the anthology market.  I’m still working on PBs and my adult novel.  But I’m convinced that by following the list below, I increase my chances for acceptance sometime in the near future.

1.    Put the piece away after you finish it.  Leave it for at least a week.
       A month is even better.  Look at it with fresh eyes.  Did you find
       anything you wanted to change?

2.    Run what you believe to be the revised copy of your piece through
       a critique group.  It doesn’t matter whether the group is one you
       meet with in person or an online group.  If it’s a good group, that’s
       all that matters.

3.    Consider the comments made by your critique group and decide
       which comments you want to use and which you don’t.  Revise

4.    Research publishers thoroughly.  Read guidelines and follow them
       to the letter.  If they only accept stories of 800 words or less, don’t
       send even the most brilliant 1000 word story.  If they say email
       subs only, don’t snail mail. 

5.   Create your most professional sub.  Learn how to write a cover
       letter, how to format your piece and whenever possible, sub to a
       person’s name as listed in the guidelines.  Send an SASE only if
       the company uses them. 

6.    Now let it go!

Get busy writing your next piece while you wait.  Most publishers, editors and agents give an approximate time line for responses and most are 6 weeks or more. 

Be patient and expect to get rejected.  Most of the famous writers will tell you their horror stories of rejection before they made their first sale.  It comes with the territory.

Just remember:  If you want to be a professional writer, act like a professional.

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