I’ve often heard authors say how thankful they were that their first attempts at novels had never seen the light of day, how happy they were that those books had been rejected again and again by publishers, how first novels should never be read by anyone. I find comments like these to be so curious. If a writer had the diligence and patience to finish a book, even a bad one, I can’t imagine why he or she wouldn’t want to see that book through to the end and have it reach an audience?
I mean, bad books can be fixed, made better, transformed. Can’t they?
And while once upon a time, writers had no choice but to give up on a book when the only pathways to publication were forged through agents and publishers, nowadays, with self-publishing, anyone can publish anything. Is there any reason to leave a book in a drawer?
When your manuscript is rejected — from agents, publishers, beta-readers, creative writing professors — you really have three choices:
1.Scrap it, and start something else.
2. Ignore the advice, and keep querying or self-publish.
3. Fix the book, and then either keep querying or self-publish.
In my mind, authors should always strive for #3. Listen to what agents and beta-readers and publishers have to say, They know their stuff. But YOU know your story. If you have to, chop the manuscript into pieces and put it back together in a new, more creative, more concise way. Don’t let their comments diminish your excitement. Don’t be afraid of some more hard work — and good editing can be the toughest work of all.
So often, publishing a book is compared to parenting: Would you ever give up on a child? Would anyone even THINK about telling you to leave that one behind and start from scratch with another child?
Don’t give up. Make it work, as Tim Gunn of Project Runway likes to say. Remember your passion. Keep it with you as you make the tough choices.
In the end, whatever happens, whether you’ve created a best seller or turned a one-star book into a three-star book, I have to believe it will have been worth it.