Sunday, May 3, 2009

Frankenstein's monster wasn't popular...

So what do you do when you've written something you rather like and you've shopped it round a few places and you think you have something there but no one in commercial publishing agrees. After you've swigged a few bottles to dull the pain of your grief over the rejection you re-read their rejection letters/e-mails to check whether anyone has said "I would take another look at this if...." and if their suggestion is not an affront to your moral compass and doesn't turn your teenage romance into a slasher zombie horror (unless you'd considered making this change anyway) you do your best to edit your work and send it back ASAP. Saying "I'll take another look" is the publishing equivalent of gold and should not be dismissed lightly. Try and avoid taking years to edit and reply: publishing staff, book trends, and remembering you and your ms will all change and fade. If other stuff is happening in your life that affects your ability to rework and resend drop them a line and say you are making changes and intending to resubmit as soon as you are able.

If your rejection was a form one, the best next course of action is to work on new material. Reworking old material can lead you down a blind alley you might get lost in. Reworked material can come out looking like Frankenstein's monster - he wasn't popular. Take what you've learnt from writing that ms and apply it to a new story. You need more than one story. If all you ever have is one story, if a publisher does say yes at some point you have no other work to show them and will have months, if not years ahead of you, to produce something else. If your first published piece does well and readers are keen to see more of your writing, you will lose the opportunity to wow them with your next book because it might be three or four years away. Be prepared. Keep writing new material. But never throw out the old things either. Their day may come. Nothing is ever wasted.


Welshcake said...

Very wise comments.

I think you have to know when to dump a project and start something new. it stings, but all that work is never wasted, And it's surprising how you can recycle bits of old stuff.

(Says the unpublished writer with one complete MS, two that died half way through and a fourth which may just make it).

Melinda Szymanik said...

Hi Justine - I have seen a few flogged horses in my time - including my own :) Trouble is, the more time and effort invested, the harder it is to put something aside. I had to learn to recognize when an increased investment was not going to pay off. Sometimes you have to move on to the new thing to discover how to fix the old one.

And recycling is great - I've turned old bits and pieces into saleable stuff.

good luck with MS number 4. Your Charlie Squires story sounds excellent.