herald

Monday 20 November 2017

why you should never give up

If you're a writer you're going to be rejected. Over and over again. I get many emails from people asking how to cope with rejection and I tell them to develop a thick skin. If you're going to put yourself and your work out there, you've got to be prepared for knock backs.

Most writers are sensitive souls. They put their life on paper and then somebody dismisses it with a toss. Even the likes of JK Rowling and Stephen King were rejected at the start of their careers. Imagine if they had just given up!

All writers hope that people will love their books and rush to buy them. But, of course, that only happens to a few. You've got to let go of the dreams of fame and fortune. Real writers write because, for them, writing is like an incurable disease.

I am lucky because writing is my full-time job now, but this wasn't always the case. When I was an air hostess I would set my alarm for 3am so that I could write for an hour before checking in for my red-eye flight at 5am. For years I did this. Then I would pay somebody to type up my book, and then post it to publishers and agents at great expense to my pocket.



rude

The rejections would come thick and fast. I began to hate the sight of the postman. Some rejections were downright rude. I remember getting one which started "Dear Sir", another "Dear no. 3468".

They all contained the same message -- a big fat no. Of course, I would get a little down when my baby was rejected. I mean, it had taken nine months to produce, I would have done anything for it, and hated sending it out into the big bad world all alone.

So when a book comes back with a disappointing 'No thanks!' note attached, it's easy to feel hurt. But hey, anybody in marketing knows that if you target enough people, eventually you will get a sale. Publishing is a numbers game. All you need is one person to say yes and then more will say yes.

I would like to tell any would-be writer never to give up. If you really want to be a writer and you are prepared to sacrifice part of your life then I can't see why anybody wouldn't make it.

I recently came across a letter sent to me by a famous agent. He advised me that my first book Mr Right for the Night would never find a publisher. At the end of the letter he wrote "PS Can I shred it?" That same book went to number one both in Ireland and Japan. I'm glad I shredded his advice!

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