Never mind persistence. Focus on your BEST work.
|Here's one I keep hearing over and over...
<Insert famous author's name here>, who wrote <insert famous novel here> was rejected from 5 different publishers before someone finally picked up their prize winning book. It went on to make millions of dollars AND a movie deal. Wow!
As an author, particularly a writer of fiction, it is sometimes important to have a healthy disregard for the constraints of reality. This innocence is sometimes invaluable in writing a story that bends the rules of logic and challenges the fabric of space and time. However, in the competitive world of book sales, these skills may not always be so beneficial.
If you have been rejected by 5 different publishing houses, perhaps it is time to ask the question, “is my novel good enough?” What makes you so sure there is a market for your particular story? Why are you so certain that your work stands out from the other potential prize winning writers that are after the same royalty cheque? Did the people helping you edit your book, critique it, or tell you what you wanted to hear? Is your target audience a big group that is constantly spending disposable income on unknown authors?
Sadly, what many people take away from the incredible injustice of rejection is that like that famous author, persistence is the key. But this can only be true if the quality and marketability of their manuscript is really there. Many people never realise their dream, simply because they thought their book, their product, was perfection and that their place in literary history is assured if they can “just get the right person to read their work.” Forget about the right person. Make sure that ANYONE who reads your manuscript will see its merits.
How many times have we heard that out of 1000 manuscripts an editor might only choose to publish a select few. You "could" say that editors are very selective. It makes sense, they’re running a business after all. More importantly, you could also say that editors receive a mountain of submissions that are just total crap! As a publisher, it’s not their job to inform you why your manuscript is simply not capable of appealing to a profitable market. Their “we regret to inform you” letter can mean many things. You can take it as “it’s not you, it’s me” or you can ask if you really ticked all the boxes in your submission.
But don’t despair; this is not a hopeless situation. There are recipes that make saleable work. You don’t have to sell your soul or creativity, but you do have to be mindful of the marketplace. Use peers who will give you a critique, warts and all. Pay a professional to review your manuscript. Above all, don’t send anything to a publisher until you are absolutely certain it’s your best work. Even if they can’t use it, give them a great read, maybe they’ll refer it to someone else who can.