Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy
Every new author dreams in their heart that as soon as their first completed work gets in the hands of an agent or publisher, that gatekeeper will just faint at its brilliance. None would dare admit this openly for fear of seeming arrogant or pretentious, but it is a real hope.
For most authors, rejection letters/emails become a regular form of torture. You send off an inquiry, hope for the best, and then open the response with your heart racing at the same time trying to protect yourself from dashed aspirations. To me the most difficult thing about the whole process was not the rejection of my work, but the rejection of the idea of my work. You see, I sent nearly one hundred query letters or emails to agents or publishers. Only three of them wanted to see even a sample of my novel and that simply a few pages.
Eventually you get used to this. It’s not personal and these people don’t know you. The process is the process. Rejection is disappointing, but something you get over.
I personally have found, and other authors have echoed these sentiments, that what is worse is the outright rejection of friends and family. They actually do know us and that is the problem.
If you are an author I’m sure this is nothing new to you. That look of embarrassment you get when you tell a friend or family member that you are writing a book. They are embarrassed for you, that you would even think of such a thing. Or maybe it’s the fellow-avid reader who can never find time to even crack open one of your books. They may even be openly supportive in a condescending sort of awkward way with false encouragement that is only a millimeter deep.
It’s easy to spot because it’s those people very close to you who never ask about the writing because it’s too strange. Like, “Tony, how’s that heroin habit going?” or “Abby, how’s your life as a porn star?” Just doesn’t come up in polite society because the asker is embarrassed for you. You would think they would be eager to see your finished work if it’s such a big deal, but again the problem is they know you.
The world has a strange ideal of authors. People who write for a living are viewed as riding unicorns, dreaming in iambic pentameter, and when they flatulate (which is exceedingly rare) it can be seen by the naked eye in rainbow colors and smells vaguely of frankincense. How can Little Jimmy whose diapers I changed write a book? How can that girl who lived down the street be an author? It is simply inconceivable. No, they are simply delusional. So sad.
Not all friends and relatives are like this, but enough are that it pains. I’ve learned you can’t take it personally. Although it feels like a rejection of you and a lack of faith, in reality it is a false image of what an author is. None can live up to that fantasy. It also makes you really appreciate the friends and family who are genuinely supportive. They are the ones who really believe in you, even knowing you as they do.
The good news is you can get back at all these close friends and family who don’t believe in you by writing them into your stories. Place them in embarrassing and compromising positions. Make them seem unflattering or really ashamed. Go ahead, have some fun with it.
After all, really, what are the chances they will ever learn what you did by reading about it?
Ryan King launched his indie author career in 2012 while keeping his day job with the US Army. Watch for his upcoming guest spot here featuring monthly reviews of post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction. For more information about Ryan and his writing visit the link here.