I am so happy to welcome today’s guest, Nicki Salcedo. I met Nicki years ago when I was a newcomer at an RWA chapter; Nicki sat by me, chatted me up, showed me the ropes, and was in general an all around great gal and class act. I came to learn over the years that she’s also an incredible writer; her first novel, ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS was just released, and it’s wonderful (you can read the first chapter below)! You definitely want to get your copy today! In the post below, Nicki explains the dynamics of rejection/critiques and gives great advice on how to cope with it and use it to your benefit. Make sure to tell us your worst rejection story [no names, please] and/or the most encouraging thing that’s happened to you in your writing career because Nicki is giving away a 10 page critique to one random commenter! Comments can be left through Tuesday so make sure to check back on Wednesday to see if you’re the winner!
[Don't forget that my popular online class, No Matter How Busy You Are, You Can Find Time to Write! starts Monday, January 27. Class fee includes a free critique or phone coaching session with me: click here for more info.]
And now, welcome Nicki!
Turning the Other Cheek: Handling Rejection
Have you ever been slapped across the face? Has someone ever told you that your shoes are ugly? Wanted to go to the dance with the cutest boy in school? What about your job and your writing? We face negativity all the time. What do you do when people discourage you and reject you?
Most people don’t have experience receiving criticism, but it is important to know how to handle harsh feedback.
You need to know where critiques come from, how to interpret and respond, and most importantly strategies to go on writing after meanest rejection. Most importantly you need to say, “I will never let rejection stop me from writing again.”
Who gives the critique and why it matters? “Whoever slaps you on the right cheek…”
At each stage of your writing career you are going to have to put your writing in front of people. Some will dislike your writing. You need to practice receiving feedback from the earliest stages of your writing career.
- Critique groups/Beta Readers. Network of peer writers or avid readers who help you in the initial stages of your writing. They can see the really rough drafts.
- Contests/Author critiques. Published professionals who analyze your work on a larger scale and know about the industry.
- Editor/Agent. Industry experts who buy and sell your novel.
- The public. Book reviewers, blogs can impact current/future sales.
The great thing about the first three stages critique groups, contests, even with editors and agents: You can fix things. The first three are getting your ready for the public. Learn how to respond to criticism early in your writing career.
How to take criticism? “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
- Check your emotions at the door. I cannot stress this one enough. Writing is business, not personal.
- Be prepared. Seek out criticism only when you are ready to hear it and plan use it to improve your writing.
- Value honesty. Hopefully you are soliciting feedback from a network of professionals who are trying to help you get published. With time you will be able to recognize good honest feedback. Even if it hurts.
- Don’t make excuses for your writing. What you write is what you write. Stand by it. Even if it needs revision. Everything we need to know about the story should be in the pages of your novel. Your rebuttal is your revision.
- Take time to evaluate rejection. Some editors/agents provide very detailed comments in their rejections, but you may also get a rejection with no comments? Did you consider genre or stylistic preferences of editor or agent? What about her/his workload and ability to take on new projects?
What types of critiques? Feedback usually falls into these categories:
- Grammar and technical. Spelling, punctuation.
- Plot. Goal, motivation, conflict, action.
- Stylistic. Voice, genre, dialogue, pacing.
- Marketing. How to make it more salable.
“I hated it,” isn’t feedback that can help you. Or it helps you know not to ask that person for feedback again. You don’t have to change what someone doesn’t like, but you need to understand what they are saying they don’t like.
How to respond? “If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.”
- Thank everyone. Your critique partners, authors, contest judges, editors, and agents. Anyone who takes the time to read your manuscript deserves thanks. Write the same cheerful thank you to the contest judge who gave your manuscript the lowest score in the competition.
“If you fall down, get up sexy.” – Sally Kilpatrick
- Read between the lines of the harshest critique and pretend you agree. A harsh critique may hurt at first, but it may also help you.
- Be skeptical of very positive critiques that offer no suggestions for improvement.
- Re-write. Words are meant to be re-written. You should expect suggestions for revision.
- Get angry. Don’t confuse turning the other cheek with turning off your emotions. It is completely natural to get angry or sad or cry.
- Ignore. This is very important for book reviews, but also for any rejection. Do not respond to negative reviews ever. (Ok, write a response, and then burn it!) If there has ever been a critique or review that has stopped you from writing, even for a day, put the critique in a box. Or forward it to your sister. Send it to me. Maybe come back to it later and consider the critique after you’ve gotten back to writing. Remember that very harsh/unhelpful reviews reveal more about reviewer than about weaknesses in your book.
- Write new words. Don’t stop ever writing, editing, or creating because of another person’s opinion. All critiques are subjective. Don’t write because you are seeking approval. Write, because you love it writing.
- Critique for other people. Learn to give constructive criticism to help you receive critiques.
Happy writing! Happy revising. “Never give up. Never surrender.” – Galaxy Quest
All Beautiful Things is my debut novel. A contest judge gave me a 28 out of 100 on this manuscript and said, “Your writing is terrible. It doesn’t make sense. The heroine is completely unlikeable and unrealistic. No one will buy this book ever.” Somebody wrote this on my manuscript! This same manuscript won the Maggie Award of Excellence and was a Golden Heart Finalist and is now published with Belle Bridge Books.
All Beautiful Things: Seven years ago, Ava Camden endured a vicious attack. She survived, but her face was brutally scarred. Now Graham Sapphire is determined to clear his brother’s name and win her trust in a desperate search for the truth.
Ava crawled onto the child-sized bed and pulled the covers over her face, pretending the quilt was a river above her. The patchwork calmed her breathing. In, blue. Out, white. There were thirty-six squares of blue and thirty-six squares of white. Sometimes she was hidden long enough to count each one. In the distance, she heard loud whispers and stifled giggling as her nieces searched the house. She always hid in the same place, and they didn’t go to her usual spot until last. They looked everywhere except where she’d be found. They enjoyed the art of seeking. But for Ava Camden there was a joy in being hidden.
It felt silly being a grown woman in a child’s bed, but her nieces expected her to dress up on command and hide so they could seek. She couldn’t deny them anything, because they were like her own children. When she thought of the future, she didn’t see a family. She saw a void resembling a hollow space in a tree. The rest of the world grew around her absence.
The approaching laughter allowed her little time for remorse or cynicism.
The girls climbed on the bed. This was their favorite part. When they uncovered Ava she was hidden again in the mass of her dark hair. The long twisted strands protected her from unwanted eyes when she needed it.
“I’m sleeping,” she said. Her nieces went back to loud whispers. They put a tiara on her head and smoothed the hair away from her face. The good side was revealed. The side with the scars pressed against the pillow. She knew that when she turned to face them, these two girls would hug her and say she was beautiful…
BIO: Nicki Salcedo is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English and Creative Writing. She is a member of Romance Writers of America© and a Past President of Georgia Romance Writers. Nicki is a two-time recipient of the Maggie Award of Excellence and a Golden Heart Finalist. She has four children, a husband, and a cat. Nicki thinks everyone should write. She loves connecting with readers. For more go to www.nickisalcedo.com. All Beautiful Things is now available.
Nicki is giving away a 10 page critique for someone who comments. She’d love to hear your worst rejection story, but no identifying information on the other person please! She’d also love to hear about the most encouraging thing that has happened in your writing career.