Monday, August 20, 2012

Fear of Rejection: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger?

I don't know about you, but I have my moments of cowardice, and there are some things that bother the heck out of me. I don't like sharks--and I'm absolutely sure that one will be having me for dinner the moment I jump into the water.  I'm not a big fan of power tools or machinery, especially after having the tip of my right ring finger re-attached after an accident involving a forklift. And most of all, I'm afraid of something a lot of people are afraid of--I'm afraid of rejection.

Writers have to deal with rejection all the time, so it follows that the writers who last in the business do so by finding ways to get past the hurt of receiving a bad review or a rejection slip in order to get something productive accomplished.

More to the point, writers have to find ways to make rejection work for them. In fact, it might not be a stretch to say that rejection, at least to some degree, is an essential element of professional writing. Rejection winnows out the weak and unfit--it serves as a form of career darwinism to improve the breed. I think there was some hand wringing from industry insiders when e-books came along--but I think the darwinistic trend of the e-market will function normally; it will still be a business where only the strong survive and the true talent rises to the top of the pile. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Writers have to figure out a way to motivate themselves when rejection comes calling, and how an individual writer handles rejection will sometimes determine the path a writer takes in the quest for success.If a writer is trying to snag an agent, then the first step on the path to success is essentially laid out--and some great writers struggled for years before finally achieving success in finding an agent, Indie authors may have dodged that bullet, but there are still many bumps in the road to endure before an indie writer can become successful. I'm sure some indie authors went down that path to avoid the agent's slush pile, but I believe that being a successful indie writer is at least as hard as becoming a traditionally published author.

Indie authors still have to sell books, and that entails so much more than writing. Indie authors may skip the agent finding process, but indie writers still have to deal with the criticism of the marketplace. More than any other writer, indie writers live and die by customer reviews. It's big part of the indie marketing process.

Indie writers have to put work out on the market to find out where they stand. An essential part of the indie writer's education is to understand how to interpret customer feedback--it's great if your project gets wonderful reviews, but it isn't the end of the world if you receive a few tough reviews--those reviews tell you about your work, and they also reveal a lot about your readers--because every review says as much about the author of the review as it does about your work.

I wouldn't jump on my proverbial sword because of a bad review, and I certainly would resist the urge to think I knew everything about writing just because I received a few good reviews. I'll do my best to learn everything I can about this craft, but at the end of the day I have to write the way I write. People will either buy into what I'm doing or they won't--but at least I will have been true to myself. I urge you to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Jeff.

    Finding ways around my cowardice is a full time job.

    People don't realise that 10% of writing is writing, the other 90% is dealing with the cowardice.