You have spent hours and days with a story in your head. Sacrifices have been made that would rival even the fall of the Roman Empire. As an author, you have birthed your characters and breathed life into them (now that is a God complex, isn't it?) and you have worked the courage to write countless query letters and sent your manuscript after weeks of edits to the publisher. Stop right there and realize that no matter where you go from here you have accomplished something that believe it or not it is a something that not everyone can do. Just like not all of us were born musical geniuses or with the talent to sing (I'm sure my bathroom walls have been traumatized enough by my own singing) and not all of us were born to be great painters-I am very proud of my stick figures even if they are crooked. However, for those of us who can tell a story and then write it-that is our gift. Not everyone can sit down and write even a page. That is not to say that people are not able to tell a story but some actually are more able to do it vocally than to actually write it down let alone write a whole book that centers around one central idea and involve the dynamics of more than one character. So STOP at this point and pat yourself on the back. You did it! However, saying that I want you to realize that not everyone outside of your close friends and loved ones will like what you have written or publish your story. This can be disheartening. We've all been there. I know I've been there more times than I can count.
If you are lucky, you'll get publishers or agents that will reject you but will also give you things you might want to try to improve upon your story. Remember, even Indie publishers have people that come from all walks of life that read submissions all the time and are unbiased. If they don't get your story or they dislike it, there's a reason for it. This does not mean to give up but you should take their critiques seriously. Not all places or people will give you any sort of feedback. Some will just give you a Simon Cowel like resonse, "Sorry, we're not interested", or "It was horrible" and that will be the end of it. Cherish those who do give you feedback. It has been my theory that if a publisher or agent will give you constructive feedback that means that there is the prospect that you can work on that and they may give you a shot. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT THROW A TANTRUM because you get rejections or bad reviews on your work. Again, being a writer means never having to close your mind to those who may be potential readers. As we all know, being a writer is a competitive world and publishers as well as agents have to be able to market and sell your book in the world wide markets. They have to be able to turn a profit as well because every signed author is an investment. If you burn your bridge with every publisher or agent that has given you a rejection then where or who do you have when you do write something that is worthwhile? You will have destroyed your reputation before you've even gotten started.
Like our children, we all want to believe that our hard work and stories are works of art; perfect in every way but I will tell you that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you put your rose tinted glasses on, you'll fail miserably every time. It hurts-it even stings to have your work critisized and to be told what is not working or that it's a story that is just not "there" yet. Get over it. Pull up your drawers and lift your chin and go back to the drawing board. I loathe editing. I loathe having to really change anything-every author does. It is frustrating, heart wrenching, and just opens the flood gate to all those negative nasty feelings we get. DO NOT LOSE HEART! Go back through your manuscript and see what you can change. Put it down and work on something else if you have to. If you are the only one who will enjoy your story then no one else is going to enjoy it. No one will buy it thus the recognition and earnings will never be yours. You will find that rewrites are not as God awful as it makes you feel. Read through your story and keep in mind the critiques and reviews. Monet's hay stacks would never have been as priceless as they are now had he not added a flower here, and a brush stroke there. Sometimes less is more and sometimes you need to add a pinch of flavor here and there. Talk to other authors and if you are lucky publishers will speak to you and give you some pointers-but don't always expect them to. Remember they get hundreds of submissions a day. I have found that speaking to other authors and even editors that give out free advice on blogs and what not has been invaluable. However advice is just advice unless you decide to take it. Take it!
What about if you can't do anything more, when do you just give up? That's a hard pill to swallow isn't it? Do you know there are well known and mass published authors everywhere that have had to just "scrap" a book because well they just couldn't do anything with it? Just about every well known author has been through something like this. They've spent and sacrficed only to see their creation fade. The human in us struggles to just "let go" of anything and so it's only naturally we don't want to let go of a story that we've entagled so much of our lives with. So what do you do? You let it go. If you've made corrections, you've followed every bit of advice, and you still are getting no where then you have to let it go. Save it for later-maybe someday you'll look on it with new eyes or inspiration will come. Who knows but you have to maybe face the fact that the book you've worked on was only a good idea to you and a select few. Again, the book market is highly competitive. Look at it this way though, at least you accomplished something. You sat down and wrote a full novel and created a story. Take satisfaction in that. You have the drive, the motivation, but it just wasn't the right one that would appeal to others. It's okay, have a good cry and accept that you did all you could and feel a sense of accomplishment. It only means that there is another direction you need to go in and as writer/author, you're going to go in many of those down the road of being a writer.
Once you are published, that means that a chance has been given to you. This does not mean that the publisher is responsible for the sales or for marketing. They put your name, your book, and handle that part of it but there is a lot of work to be done by the author. Yes, it would be great if we all could be like the authors from Random, Little Brown, St.Martins, and the like who would splash our pictures all over the net, commercials, and put us on tour busses to book signings across the nation or countries some of us live in. That is the dream, is it not? Sadly for most of us, we're starting at the bottom and we have to do a lot of the foot work. Posting on social networks, having your own website, blogging on several different blogging sites, and sometimes even investing in promotion firms such as Sensual Promos and media coaches like Tasha Turner Coaching are great tools but beware-there are many "firms" out there that are scams. Again, this is where talking to different published authors and gleaning their opinions on places to go through is invaluable. Publishers, once you are signed will no doubt add your book to their own catalogs, submit you to sites such as Amazon and other book chains and outlets, and online reviewers. Sometimes online reviewers will ask for a fee to showcase you on their site and that's not a bad thing. They usually hold a contest where readers can enter by visiting your event hosted by them. If they like your book they will most likely recommend you to others and that helps with the whole word of mouth thing and your fan base. If you are like me and write paranormal romance fiction you can try these places: Night Owl Reviews, Bitten By Books, Heartbreakers and Heroes, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance.Org, Smart Bitches and Trashy Books, and many more. Sometimes authors will feature you on their own websites free of charge. These are all good things when wanting to get your name and your book(s) out there. BE SURE TO FOLLOW THEIR SUBMISSION GUIDELINES!!!
In closing, if your book is not selling and you've done everything including investing money, again don't be disheartened. Just go back to the drawing board and come up with something fresh. As writers, we all have stories going on inside our heads. Don't be afraid to try something new out side of the box. Get out of your comfort zone. All it takes is that one book-that one story to make the break. Consider your failed attempts as stepping stones to making that break. No one ever climbed a mountain in just a few steps and let's face it, being an author we all know that moutain is as big as it is tall. It's not impossible but it's a lot of work. Do not give up! You'll reach the top, you'll just find that it may take a different route or more work than you ever thought. No idea is ever a bad one, sometimes it just leads to a dead end or needs to be saved for later. Never stop honing your craft. No great artisan ever picked up a brush or a chistle and instantly created a masterpiece their first try or even their 100th. Sometimes we get authors like Stephanie Meyer or J K Rowling that have something so unique and have something that no one else has seen or something that is hot for the market that it instantly makes a world wide splash. We'd all like to be in that circle, wouldn't we? It's great to admire them and others like them but remember-not every writer breaks into the world of books the same way. What happened for them is one in a billion chances. It's like in all the sky there's going to be that one or few stars that shoot through the sky.
Does that mean we must become complacent or let our dreams die? Heck NO! It simply means for us the road is going to be more work, but if we are willing and able to do the work and pay our dues, we'll get there. We might not get our books made into motion pictures or become iconic writers like them or even famed ones like Stephen King or Nora Roberts, but we can still have our own measure of fame and profit from it. If you have a publisher-work with them because it is their desire to make money. If a publiser isn't making money off their authors then they are not making money for themselves either. PUBLISHERS WANT THEIR AUTHORS TO BE SUCCESSFUL! That is why so many are very picky and only choose those books that they believe are marketable and profitable. It's nothing personal it is simply business. So do not lose heart. Do not abuse your publisher or agent. They've already taken a chance with you by signing you. Don't burn that bridge because being signed is better than not. Unless you are like me and first signed with a vanity press...then I say MOVE ON, RUN AWAY, GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE and look for a reputable publisher. REPUTABLE PUBLISHER not vanity press. I would greatly like to hear your feedback if you are a reader, writer, or publisher. Please feel free to add any review and promotion sites too!
Keep reading, Keep writing, and Keep dreaming!