Get Over Your Fear…of Rejection
By Kelly James-Enger
I’ve been a fulltime freelancer for more than 16 years, and have taught at least 2,000 students during that time, many of whom have the skills necessary to write for publication. Yet a huge number of writers never send anything out. They’re afraid to submit work or to even to send a query letter to a target market. It comes down to fear: fear of being rejected.
Don’t fear rejection. Instead, expect it. Take the step toward publication, and you will get rejected. I guarantee it! So stop worrying about it. Instead, have a plan for what you will do when you get rejected. My personal rule of thumb is what I call the 24-hour rule. That means that when I get a rejection (and I have received more than 1,000 of them at this point!), I do two things within 24 hours.
First, I get the query out to a new market. I call this a ?resubmission, or a resub. Woman’s Day didn’t want the idea? No problem. I’d try Family Circle. Parents said no? Then I tried Parenting instead. If The Chicago Tribune rejected me, I’d try the Chicago Sun-Times. A pitch isn’t doing you any good sitting on your hard drive. As soon as you get a no, or you don’t receive a response, you need to get that query out to another potential market.
Second, and this may seem counterintuitive, I’d come up with a new pitch for the editor who had turned me down. I’d start this query by saying something like: Thank you for your response [note that I don't say rejection!] to my query about perfectionism. I’m sorry you can’t use the idea right now, but I have another query I’d love for you to consider. Then I would start my new query.
There were some instances where even multiple queries produced nothing more than a series of rejections. After a half-dozen of those, yes, it’s time to move on. But with many other markets, it wasn’t my first query that got me an assignment. It was my second, or third, or fourth. I didn’t give up, and eventually I got that assignment, and started writing for that market!
That’s a secret that most new freelancers don’t know and it hurts them. The fledgling writer receives a rejection, slinks away, and never querys that market again. Don’t be that writer! Give yourself a tight deadline. I like 24 hours but you can choose a timeframe that works for you and get a new query out to your original publication and resub your initial idea to another market within that amount of time. You’ll turn what was a rejection into two opportunities and boost your chances of succeeding as a freelancer.
When I have a good idea, I shop it around until I sell it or until I run out of markets to approach! I’m not joking. I had one idea that was rejected by nine markets. But the tenth one bought it. Had I given up at any point along the way, I wouldn’t have made that sale. So don’t let rejection derail you. Expect it, plan for it, and overcome it and you’ll be on your way to a successful freelance career.
BIO: Kelly James-Enger is a long time freelancer who has written for more than 60 national magazines. She recently launched her own publishing company, Improvise Press, which produces books for creative people who want to profit from their passions. The company?s first two books, Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets, and Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer?s Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition, can be ordered through any brick-and-mortar or online bookstore, or through www.improvisepress.com. Use the discount code, IMPROVISEPRESS (all caps, no breaks) for 20 percent off of your order.
I love love love this idea of 5 daily habits that allow you to make steady progress toward your writing goals. Thanks to Elke Feuer for the post. Elke is a former student of mine (No Matter How Busy You Are, You Can Find TIME TO WRITE) and recently got her first publishing contract! Go Elke!
Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing to win an e-copy of Elke’s novel, For the Love of Jazz.
What’s your daily five?
By Elke Feuer
At the beginning of each year I excitedly create the goals I plan to accomplish. I pulse with excitement as I imagine each one coming to fruition. It’s a great feeling. Then it happens. You know what I’m talking about. Reality sets in. You see the long list of tasks you have to do to make those dreams come true and they’re added to your already long list. By the start of March (or sometimes sooner) you run out of steam and don’t accomplish half of what you wanted to. Another year goes by and you’re right where you don’t want to be. No step closer to your goals and dreams.
Just recently, I subscribed to Success Magazine which comes with a bonus audio CD with every issue. One of the main points I got from listening to one CD was creating a daily five list to help you reach your goals. These are five daily habits that take you one step closer to any and all goals you want to reach.
What makes the daily five different from anything I’ve done before is you chose beliefs that are important to how you live out your daily (in my case writing) life. For example, mine are:
I love being part of my writing communities. They embrace with me so much love, support, and encouragement, something I missed out on growing up where I live. Writing can be a very lonely profession and the connections I made encouraged me and I want to do the same for other aspiring writers. Encouraging people to follow their dreams and reach for the stars is important to me and the reason why it’s number one on my list. I do this through my blog, a tweet/retweet and Facebook posts.
2. Study and File
Growth and personal improvement are essential to me and my livelihood as a writer, so I study (reading books, and articles, blogs, etc.) daily and file them away for future reference. I also attend online classes that improve my craft as a writer. The filing is equally important because let’s face it, how many times do we read about a useful topic that we can’t find when we really need it.
“Who wants to be the richest millionaire in the graveyard?” That was a quote from the Success audio CD and also applies to writers. This means doing something good for me whether it’s exercise, a home facial, bubble bath, or going for a massage. Relaxing is important. It recharges us and makes the things we have to do an easier pill to swallow, not to mention we get our best ideas when our brains go into alpha mode.
This is a difficult one for me as my personality is not naturally that of a sales person, but I’m quickly realizing that it’s something I have to do if I’m going to get my name out there and have a long writing career. Maybe one day I’ll be fortunate enough to have someone doing that for me, but for now it’s got to be me. Besides, no one is more qualified (or as excited) about your book as you are. The key is to find a platform or platforms that fit your needs and personality and that you feel comfortable using. I’m still looking for mine.
Writers write! There’s no getting around that one folks. My stories aren’t going to write themselves or get on the bookshelves if I don’t write them. Writing every day for me means working on my WIP in one form or another, whether it’s plotting, character and setting sketches, brainstorming a book blurb, or finding ideas for the book cover. It’s anything that gets me one step closer to finishing my book and submitting it. To paraphrase Kelly, “If it’s important to you, you make time for it.”
The best part about these daily fives is they can be applied to personal goals. They can be used to accomplish any goal that you set for yourself since they are part of your everyday life. They can be the compass that charts you destinations.
Take a moment and jot down the things most important to you. If you had to pick your daily five, what would they be?
BIO: Elke Feuer stumbled into writing suspense, and to her surprise found she enjoyed it, along with writing about serial killers. She’s fascinated by them, and what motivates them to kill. She writes time travel, historical, and contemporary novels to even out her dark side. She’s currently writing her first mystery series set in Grand Cayman where she lives with her husband and two awesome kids.
Reading, spending time with her family, encouraging aspiring writers and meeting people is her joy. Writing is her passion. Visit Elke at http://elkefeuer.com/ to find out more about her.
Happy Halloween! Today’s guest post is from author Kelsey Browning with Romance University dot org, who writes about one of my favorite topics: the fear of failure AND the fear of success. Both of those can hold you back from achieving your dreams. Kelsey gives you sound advice on how to identify what’s holding you back, and tips on how to overcome it.
To add a little fun to today’s special post, leave a comment and include who your favorite Sexiest Bad Guy is…you’ll be entered into a contest to win a free kindle edition of a writing craft book!
Four Essential Questions to Banish the Writing Boogeyman
by Kelsey Browning
If you’ve read my Brain Candy blog, you know I’m afraid of clowns, mimes and china dolls. Those are personal phobias. But I’ve found when it comes to writing, we tend to be afraid of two things:
I can hear you scoffing out there (yes, even you folks in Australia) and mumbling things like: “Me, afraid of success? Kelsey, you obviously haven’t had your clear-the-cobwebs morning coffee yet. I’ve been working my little patootie off for the past (insert number here) years to become a published author. What do you mean I’m afraid of success?”
And, yes, I heard that shrill high note on the end of your question, too.
Maybe you’re placing in writing contests and your critique partners love your writing and that’s become your measure of success. Sometimes pre-published author status becomes a comfortable career stage, and we have a hard time moving beyond it. I know, because I’ve been there.
But by asking yourself a handful of pointed—and possibly painful—questions, you can get over the fear of success hump.
- What do I get to avoid by staying where I am?
- What guarantee am I looking for?
- What emotional payoff am I receiving?
- What am I afraid of losing if I succeed?
Take a minute to skim those questions again. And if you’re serious about moving forward in your writing career, take several minutes to scratch out answers to them.
Do your responses look anything like these?
What do I get to avoid by staying where I am?
- Learning how to _______ (plot, develop characters, market my work).
- Networking with editors and other authors.
- Setting myself up for rejection.
- Realizing my story idea isn’t (or is) good. (from Mary Jo Burke)
- Discovering I really do suck as a writer . (from Adrienne Giordano)
What guarantee am I looking for?
- Time well spent. Am I spending a lot of time writing something no one may ever read? Am I spending my time on the right thing? (from Nancy Naigle) Fear that I’ll spend months writing and no one will buy it. (from Joan Leacott)
- Career certainty/staying power. What if I make it only to find out writing isn’t my calling? What if I become a bestseller, but can’t handle the pressure? What if I get a book contract, but it’s not with the press I want? What if I can’t meet my deadlines? What if I hate my editor?
What emotional payoff am I receiving?
- Sympathy. My critique group moans and groans with me each time I receive a rejection.
- Self-pity. I allow myself to mope and eat a half-gallon of Rocky Road for a week after hearing “No, thanks.”
- Anger. No one will give me a chance, dammit!
What am I afraid of losing if I succeed?
- Reputation. What if people find out I’m a fraud, that I really don’t know what the heck I’m doing? That I’m really not as good of a writer as I think? What if I get a bad review?
- Relationships. What if my critique group is jealous? What if they resent my success? What if I don’t have as much time for my family and friends? What if I outgrow the people around me? What if they abandon me?
- Comfort Zone. What would people—my editor, agent, readers—demand of me? What would I have to do differently?
Honestly answering these four questions can feel a bit like food poisoning—you know that crampy, sweaty, nauseous feeling I’m talking about. Breathe through it. Then revisit your answers, and I think you’ll find many of your concerns may begin with the words “What if…?” And what if almost always means you’re borrowing trouble, that you’re placing artificial barriers in your own way.
So there’s one more powerful question that can help you get beyond many of these unfounded fears:
What is the absolute worst thing that could happen?
Answer this for each one of your biggest, scariest what ifs. How likely is your worst case scenario? And what would you do if it actually happened? I bet you’ll find yourself laughing at some of the outlandish answers you come up with. And we all know laughter is a great way to banish any boogeyman.
Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ southern love stories. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Write to Done’s Top Ten Blogs for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in a hobbit house in northeast Georgia with her IT-savvy husband, baseball-obsessed son and seriously spoiled dog. She’s currently at work on the third book in her Shelbyville, Texas, series. For more about Kelsey, visit www.KelseyBrowning.com.
Who’s the Sexiest Bad Guy you can think of? Leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing to win a free kindle edition writing craft book!
Congrats to Pamela Hill who was the winner of LIVING WRITE: The Secret to Bringing Your Craft Into Your Daily Life, for her entry into Lyrical Pens’ Flash Fiction contest!
You asked for it! Here they are! My top 10 Creativity Tips
Post YOUR tip in the comments section to be entered into a drawing for a free 15 minute coaching session with me by phone; 3 lucky winners will be selected!
#10. Sleep with a pen and paper beside your bed to record night time revelations.
#9. Write at the same time every day so that your muse can meet you there.
#8. When you feel uninspired, make a collage about what writing means to you, why you write, or your story.
#7. Record your dreams, even the ones that don’t make sense.
#6. Instruct your subconscious mind to give you good ideas and good plots. Say something like, “Subconscious, tomorrow give me an idea for a new story.” Then get ready to receive!
#5. Always trust your creative hunches. That is your subconscious mind communicating with you.
#4. Leave your computer on at night. Any time you wake up, go to it and write something (anything!).
#3. Surround yourself with green. There is a documented link between the color green and the mind going into an alpha wave state, which is conducive to creativity.
#2. Look into a mirror and state your biggest goal as if it were already a reality. This gives you the motivation to persist and programs your subconscious at the same time.
#1. Visualize yourself every day as a talented, creative, goal directed person, and you will manifest it.
Now, what’s your favorite creativity tip (either one of these or one I didn’t mention)? Leave a comment and be entered into the drawing to win a free 15 minute phone consultation with me. 3 winners will be selected.
My book LIVING WRITE: The Secret to Bringing Your Craft into Your Daily Life, is the Grand Prize in this month’s Flash Fiction contest over at Mahala Church’s place…deadline to submit your work is August 31…details at the link: http://www.lyricalpens.com/
The Mysterious Green House: My Short Story That Came From A dream
By Kelly L. Stone
I’m not one of those writers who typically gets ideas for stories from reading the news or hearing about an unsolved murder case. Usually my ideas come to me via dreams. But once I had an unusual situation that combined both my dream world and an actual deserted house that resulted in a 10,000 word short story. Here’s how it happened.
My family owned a secluded waterfront lot that bordered another property that had a 120-year-old empty house on it. It was pine green, nestled behind sand dunes, and shielded from the harsh sun by oaks that draped moss covered braches over its roof. One window had an intriguing shade perpetually pulled up, as if the occupants had been looking out and simply gotten called away for a moment. I used to walk down the beach and gaze at the house, wondering who had lived there and what their lives were like back in the early 1900’s.
The empty house set my imagination on fire. The result was that one night I dreamt that I was in the back of a row boat, being ferried across the bay toward that green house. In the front of the boat sat a young woman with carrot-red hair and wearing a Victorian style dress. She was on her way to that house. As an observer in the dream, I knew only three things: her name (Riley), she was coming to the house for a purpose known only to her, and the secret to her trip could be found in a small tin box she carried in her bag.
That was it. When I woke up the next morning, I wrote all this down. I was enchanted by this mystery woman who was coming, in my dream world, to live in what I now called “my” house. That night, I asked my subconscious mind to give me more.
It did. Over the course of the next week, I got via a dream the next “scene” of the short story. Riley was an unusual woman for her day. She was unmarried and fiercely independent. She kept old letters in a tin box that she took out and read every night. She had an imaginary lover. Eventually, my mysterious Riley made a dangerous trip across the sound to a real Civil War fort in the area (Ft. Pickens). There was an item there that she was determined to dig up, and dig it up she did, despite the hurricane that was coming.
Around night eight, my mind gave me the final scene—Riley had found what she was looking for and she was leaving for the mid-west to continue her adventure. Her secrets had all been revealed.
The story was never published. And that house is gone now, bulldozed down to make way for “progress.” But whenever I walk by that area of beach I still imagine Riley’s green house, and think fondly of the young Victorian woman who gave me a story.
What stories have you gotten from your dreams? Leave a comment to win a free 5-page critique.
Learn how the “Why” of why you write can also nourish your Writer Self-Image, and help you stay in it for the long haul, in my article in The Write Place at the Write Time online magazine. Scroll to the bottom of the page for my article, and a short exercise you can easily do at home:
Try one of the exercises below, post a comment about your experience no later than NOON on Sunday, June 3rd, and be entered into a drawing to win a $5 off coupon on the tutition for my upcoming EMPOWER YOUR MUSE online class, starting Monday June 4th OR a free critique of up to 10 pages (your choice). Two winners will be chosen!!
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind for Writers
Sigmund Freud, the father of modern day psychology, was the first to analyze the mind and create an understandable model of how it works. In general terms, he discovered three components: the conscious mind, which is your day to day thinking mind; the preconscious mind, a type of “filter” between the conscious and the subconscious minds, and the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind’s unique characteristics are what make it so powerful. It’s always alert even when the conscious mind is not (during sleep and surgery), it stores material (memory) indefinitely, and whatever you program into it creates your reality. These three traits make the subconscious mind a powerful ally for meeting your writing goals and for building a strong writer self-image. Let’s talk about some ways to capitalize on its power.
You’ve probably had the experience of getting stumped by a problem, only to wake up one day and have the solution suddenly come to you. That’s your subconscious at work, and it’s what I call a sleep solution, or that “ah-ha” moment that comes after you’ve slept on a problem. During sleep, the subconscious naturally attempts to get information to the conscious mind, usually through dreams but also through hunches and flashes of insight later on.
To use this in writing, take a situation that’s blocking you: maybe you need a fresh idea, or a solution to a troublesome plot point, or the name of a new character. Ask your subconscious mind to provide you guidance via a dream or an “ah-ha” moment. When addressing the subconscious mind, speak directly to it. Say, either out loud or in your head, “Subconscious mind, give me a solution to (your problem.)” Then go to sleep.
You can do this with any issue. If you want to know whether a certain agent is a good match for you, ask your subconscious to provide the answer. If you want to know if spending your money on a certain writing event would be worthwhile, ask your subconscious for a sleep solution.
The trick here is to expect an answer. It may come overnight or it may take a few weeks. But anticipate it. Carson McCullers often took weeks-long breaks while writing her books, literally waiting on what she called the “illumination.” This is the same idea. Wait for the answer. It comes in different ways with different people. You may get a dream, or a “hunch,” or the answer may suddenly crystallize in your mind. But expect the answer, be alert for it, and it will come.
A big trouble spot I often hear from aspiring authors is that they don’t hold themselves accountable to their writing goals; they don’t feel their writing is good, they don’t believe they’ll ever get published, they don’t believe they’re worthy of getting published, and so on. This is a self-image issue. You can access the subconscious mind’s help here by asking for a sleep solution. Say something like, “Subconscious, give me a sleep solution that will improve my writer self-image” or “Subconscious, give me a sleep solution that guides me toward meeting my writing goals.” Then be alert to any dreams, hunches, or flashes of insight you get over the next few weeks.
Sleep solutions can also help you with the mundane tasks of writing. The night before I handed in the manuscript for Time to Write, I asked my subconscious to alert me to any errors in the copy. When I woke up, I got a mental flash of several misspelled words and found the errors in the exact sections that I had pictured them.
Program Your Subconscious Mind
You can program your subconscious mind to help improve your writer self-image. One method is called the mirror technique. This exercise was used by Napoleon Hill, Dr. Joseph Murphy, and other early pioneers in the field of positive thinking.
The technique is simple: look into the mirror and make positive statements to yourself. If you want to improve your self-esteem as a writer, say something like “I’m a great writer and editors love my work.” If you want help achieving your writing goals, say, “I write three times a week for an hour (or whatever your goal is).” If you want to improve your creativity, say something like, “Ideas come to me freely and easily.”
A crucial piece of this exercise is that when saying the statements in the mirror, feel how you will really feel when the result is achieved. Emotion is fuel to the subconscious and speeds up the programming process.
As with the sleep solution, expect results. You may feel silly doing the mirror technique at first, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that it works.
Positive Statements and Declarations
The subconscious mind is programmed, on a general basis, by habitual thoughts. For this reason, thinking positive about your abilities as a writer is very important. You’ve got to learn to keep your thoughts trained on the positive at all times, no matter what’s going on.
You start programming your subconscious mind through what I call Positive Statements & Declarations (PSDs). These are short, present tense statements that capture your end result. Write them down on an index card or in a notebook and then repeat them over and over as you go through the day. Here are some examples:
I’m getting better with each manuscript I write.
Agents and editors love my work.
I have the ability to learn to write.
I can do it!
I’m a productive writer who meets her goals.
I am confident in my abilities as an author.
I believe in myself.
You can use PSDs to improve your writing habits, too. For instance, bestselling author Dianna Love often works on as many as three books at a time. If I wanted to emulate that habit, I would program my subconscious with a statement like, “I’m a productive writer like Dianna Love.”
Use the statements above or create your own. The key to making them work is to say them out loud as much as possible, every day. A very powerful way to use this technique is to repeat your PSDs in front of a mirror using the technique mentioned above
Self Publishing Is No Longer Just for Amateurs
By Susan Abel Sullivan
Thanks to the growing eBook industry, many authors are testing the waters of self publishing. When I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2005, the general consensus among speculative fiction writers was that no reputable agent or publishing house would take a self-published writer seriously. But with the spectacular success of indie authors like Amanda Hocking making the news, it’s becoming not only acceptable to self publish electronically, but also a testing ground for new authors.
Here are ten steps I took to launch my independently published eBook Fried Zombie Dee-light! Ghoulish, Ghostly Tales.
1. See What Other Indie Authors Did: I read several blog posts by Amanda Hocking about electronic self publishing. Like going on a scavenger hunt, her blogs led me to other indie author blogs and I read all of those, too, jotting down notes.
2. Decide What to Publish: This may seem obvious, but I had to make a decision between a short story collection or a novel. The collection won out: it could be priced lower than a novel, would be easier to format, and I already had several short stories, both published and unpublished, that would make for a nice grouping.
3. Read Up on How to ePublish: I recommend Want to -Publish? A Guide for Everyone by Malissa M. Kent. Ironically, the book is only available in eBook and I had to buy my first eReader in order to read it. But I bit the bullet because if I was going to publish electronically, I really needed to have an eReader myself so that I could see what reading on a hand-held device was like.
4. Design a Professional Book Cover: This is an absolute must to make your book stand out from the millions of writers who are self publishing electronically. A professional artist and video game artist I know agreed to collaborate with me on designing a cover. She did a fabulous job! If you have the technical skills to design your own cover, go for it. Just make sure it looks good. Readers really do judge a book by its cover.
5. Solicit Cover Blurbs/Quotes: In the same way that a professionally designed cover sets you apart from the amateurs, having one to three blurbs/quotes/reviews from other authors makes you seem professional. Don’t be afraid to use your networking connections. Be polite and gracious when requesting author blurbs.
6. Form a Press Plan: There are millions of eBooks available; you’ve got to let people know your book is out there. If you haven’t already, build a website. There are free websites available for those of you who are starting out. Sign up for Twitter and join Facebook. Engage people on a personal level, rather than constantly barraging them with posts about your book. Yes, do promote your product, but also promote yourself as a person. Respond to what other people post. In addition to a website and social media, approach book bloggers about reviewing your book or letting you guest blog. Get your name out there to readers. Build an author profile at Goodreads.
7. Pre-Promote Your Book: Set a launch date and promote your book at least a week before it’s released by posting your cover to your website and social media sites with an enticing description and a “Coming Soon” to eBook.
8. Format Your Book for an eReader: Malissa Kent recommends using the Smashwords Style Guide to format your word document to be compatible for an eReader and I second that notion. It’s a pain in the patoot the first time you format your document, but it will save you major time when you’re ready to upload your book to online eBook retailers. I strongly suggest that you save formatting until you’re ready to upload, though, in case you want to make changes.
8. Launch Your Book: Follow the directions for uploading your book at each of the eBook retailers you’ve chosen. I went with Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and Smashwords.com to increase the chances of readers buying my book. Update your website and social media.
9. Celebrate: You’ve worked hard. Now step back and enjoy the moment.
10. Promote, Promote, Promote: Work your press plan. Ask readers who’ve bought the book and enjoyed it to write a review on your book’s retailer page and/or to share their reviews on social media and Goodreads. The beauty of eBook publishing is that no brick and mortar bookstores are going to yank your book and return it to the publisher after two months if sales aren’t there. Your book will be live for as long as you want it to be. So keep the snowball rolling and continue to promote while working on your next project. You might just find that eBook publishing is rewarding, addictive and profitable.
Fried Zombie Dee-light! Ghoulish, Ghostly Tales by Susan Abel Sullivan: A fun collection about ghouls, ghosts, and zombies, as well as an advice column featuring dead letters from the lovelorn! You’ll want to steer clear of Bubba’s Cafe after you find out what they serve, and if you teach Group X, you’ll be leery of job postings for Certified Zombie Instructors. Quiver, quake and chuckle at these quirky tales of the paranormal.
Now available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Smashwords.
BIO: Susan Abel Sullivan lives in a historic Victorian house with two dogs, way too many cats, and a ghost. When not writing she likes to get her groove on by teaching Zumba Fitness ® classes. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop for speculative fiction. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, ASIM Best of Horror: Vol II, Beyond Centauri, New Myths, AlienSkin, and Writers’ Journal. She is the author of CURSED: WICKEDLY FUN STORIES from World Weaver Press, as well as the forthcoming THE HAUNTED HOUSEWIVES OF ALLISTER, AL. She is currently writing a Young Adult novel about the supernaturally challenged. Visit her website at: http://susanabelsullivan.weebly.com/