Friday, January 6, 2017

Don't Get Mad; Get Published

A popular post from July 2009

By Julie Wright

My first experience with publishing a book happened blissfully enough. I sent the manuscript. They sent a contract. I signed it. They sent me my author copies and the ad copies of the magazines they'd advertised for me in. And we were in business.

Book two had much the same results.

Book three . . . not the same at all. You see, even published authors get rejected. Oddly enough, that book was my best work thus far into my career. I knew it was good. But my publisher thought it was too dark for my audience or whatever. So they passed on it.

That unexpected rejection shattered me into millions of pieces of self doubt. When I was finally put back together again enough to get back out there, I found I had contracted a disabling disease. I had JulieWrightus. It's a wretched disease. Don't bother looking it up at the mayo clinic's website. I can give you the symptoms here:

1. Chronic fear usually rearing its head in times of visiting the post office with a large envelope that includes a SASE.
2. A bizarre inability to speak without interjecting phrases such as, "I suck muddy rocks." or, "I'm nothing." or, "I'll never be a good writer like (insert favorite famous author here)."
3. Spontaneous bouts of weeping.
4. An irrational fear of checking email that has the subject line of query.
5. Jealous rage when other less worthy authors get contracts and you don't.

These are the symptoms. If you have three or more, then you too have JulieWrightus. Sorry. It's truly a crippling disease. But there is a cure.

Getting published.

Getting published won't keep all the symptoms away all the time. It won't keep you from feeling like a failure sometimes--we all have moments, but it will stave off the chronic feeling of failure.

The only way to get published is to keep trying.

I have over 100 rejections. One of my most amazing friends and mentors, Jessica Day George has 187. 187! That is a bunch! Brandon Sanderson has rejections; Shannon Hale has rejections; Stephen King has rejections; JK Rowling has rejections. I know of some people who have rejections numbering into the thousands. Yet these people are all published.

What do they all have in common that got them to this state of published bliss? They didn't quit. They didn't give in to the disease.

And though I had the disease so bad, the specialists (James Dashner and J Scott Savage) named it after me, I too found the cure. I got that manuscript published. And not with just any publisher, but the biggest publisher my little market had to offer. It was a great and glorious day when I was able to meet up with my previous publishers at a writing function. It was delicious to shake their hands, smile, and say, "Yes, I'm doing quite well, thank you."

I didn't outright gloat. How would that look? But I felt as though I'd shaken the shackles of my disease.

I was wrong.

Symptoms pop up all the time if I'm not careful--if I'm not constantly moving. I started writing for a different market which meant I needed a different publisher. This meant more queries, more rejections, more symptoms and random screams of, "I'm nothing!"

As I move forward in my career, there are lots of ways to be rejected: in reviews, on blogs, in emails . . .

When I landed my agent, J Scott Savage warned me, "I know you're excited about this step and it IS a huge step, but don't expect a book deal tomorrow. It takes time. I don't want you slipping back into JulieWrightus."

"I won't!" I said. "I plan on living in this moment for as long as I can."

And I've worked hard to keep moving forward and not wallowing. I keep writing new things, knowing that if I keep going--if I never quit--I can outrun the disease altogether.

Don't quit. If you have one rejection, don't quit. If you have 22 rejections, don't quit. If you have 122 rejections, don't quit.

And when you get those letters that say you aren't good enough?

You know they're wrong, so don't get mad; get published.


Laura said...

Love it. Good words of advice. Now, to live it...

L.T. Elliot said...

Julie Wright, I LOVE YOUR GUTS! Seriously, you ought to write a motivation book just for writers. Your Storymakers Speech @ bootcamp, your wonderful posts, and you in general--you just lift me like no one ever does. Thank you, thank you!

Terresa said...

Thanks for the upbeat message!

Those are glorious, uplifting words of positive energy. Unforgettable post. Great advice I'm going to tuck away for future reference.

onelowerlight said...

Wow, just like there isn't a silver bullet to getting published, I guess that getting published isn't itself a silver bullet either. Hard to see when you're still on the bottom working your way up. Thanks for the insights!

BTW, this post reminded me of something I read on that C. S. Lewis got 800 rejections before his first sale. Even if it's hard to keep putting yourself out there, it's nice to know that you're in good company!

Amber Lynae said...

Julie- great words of advice. Definitely easier said than done, but the important part was the perservence. Thank you for a motivating post.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I'm going to link to this post so I can review it over and over since I suffer from this disease. I have ALL the symptoms.

Hey want to know what the word verification is? Bombook. I'm not kidding.

Julie Wright said...

Okay that word verification made me laugh at loud. THANK YOU Anna for sharing that. I know all about bombooks :)

Kimberly said...

I have a feeling that I might be susceptible to such a disease. Remind me of this later when I'm wallowing, 'kay? Brilliant post.

Josi said...

Might I say you've made a remarkable recovery over the last year :-)

Heather B. Moore said...

Awesome post. I knew there was a name for that illness! I definitely believe the perserverence always wins out in the end :)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Excellent advice, Julie! I absolutely love how open you are and your enthusiasm.

Curtis said...

I suffer from your disease. I bet it's cool to have a disease named after you . . . unless you're Lou Gehrig, or that guy named Cancer. Actually, I guess it's only cool to have a disease named after you if it's curable. Like Julie Wrightus.

Great post.

Luisa Perkins said...


Lilithas said...

Thank you for this. Truly!

Heather Justesen said...

Ah, now I know what that sinking feeling in my stomach is the moment after I drop off my manuscript. It's Julie Wrightus!

Well, you rock anyway. Don't give up, we all have to fight Julie Wrightus sometimes. =)

My word verification is a caket just like a small cake? And if so, why the new name? I thought that was what cupcake was for...