Ack! Another rejection!
Every writer knows the feeling. Beating our bruised heads against a closed door is part of the game we all play. We’re not only rejected by publishing houses, but also by the agents needed to even approach most publishers.
For an unknown writer, it can seem an insurmountable barrier. That’s why, when I had the opportunity to publish my debut novel through a small press in 2011, I took it. By that time I’d been honing my skills for years, and I thought I knew a thing or two.
Then I got back my edited manuscript. Every page was slathered in red. Every. Single. Page. It was dripping. But after the initial shock, the experience turned out to be beneficial. After working with a professional editor on that book, and later the next title in the series, I‘d gained a practical education.
But, alas… Book sales were not what we’d hoped, and the publisher and I parted ways. He returned my rights for the first two titles, and I published the whole four-book series myself—and then another series. I learned to format both print and e-books to create a product that does not scream, “Amateur!” Professionally designed covers have been my only out-of-pocket cost for the eight books I have now released through my own imprint, Gannah’s Gate.
Like everyone else, publishing houses have to make money. That requires making hard decisions about which titles to invest in. Acquisitions editors must keep a finger on the pulse of the market to recognize what’s likely to sell and what’s apt to be a losing proposition. I don’t blame them for this.
I am happy, though, that I no longer have to knock myself out trying to woo them. Now, I only have to convince readers and potential book buyers about the worthiness of my work, not agents or editors.
If you’re considering self-publishing, I hope you’ll find these five suggestions helpful:
1) Make sure your writing is ready for prime time. Study the craft. Interact with other writers—not only wannabes like yourself, but those who have succeeded in what you’re striving for. Never stop improving.
2) Before jumping into self-publishing, submit your manuscript to traditional publishers. During that process, be humble, teachable, and open to suggestion. Learn all you can from the professionals.
3) Be aware that however it’s done, getting your book published does not guarantee anyone will buy it. Publishing is not a Field of Dreams; you can build it, but they won’t come if they don’t know it’s there. Promotion is your responsibility.
4) Don’t skimp on quality. You may not have to impress an agent, but you do want to impress your readers—and you don’t want to impress them with your sloppiness. A manuscript cannot be edited too much.
The same goes for the formatting and the cover. If you don’t have the skill set to produce a professional-looking product, hire someone who can. A beautiful cover might not sell books on its own, but a tacky-looking one will turn readers away faster than you can say, “Ouch!”
5) I don’t recommend surrendering your rights to subsidy publishers (those that require a fee for publishing your book for you). Instead of paying for their services, hire your own editor, cover designer, etc., and keep the publishing rights for yourself. It’s your book, after all.
Yvonne Anderson made her publishing debut in 2011 with The Story in the Stars, Book #1 in the four-title “Gateway to Gannah” sci-fi series. Stars was a finalist in the 2012 ACFW Carol Awards.
In 2018, she released a three-book extraterrestrial autobiography, “The Four Lives of J. S. Freeman,” self-published under the Gannah’s Gate imprint. Her latest publication is a friend’s memoir, Dancing on Stones: A Quest for Joy, in which the author shares her journey out of depression.
Dancing on Stones: A Quest for Joy by Edith Harrington (edited by Yvonne Anderson)
Are you suffering?
Are you depressed?
Does your heart cry, “Where are you, God? Why did You let this happen to me?”
When Edith Harrington’s world suddenly crumbled and her life lay in ruins, unanswerable questions shook the foundations of her faith.
Follow in her steps on this quest for answers—satisfying answers, not mere platitudes. As you learn practical tools to help overcome depression and anxiety, her fresh insights will touch your heart and lead you to the joy of deeper intimacy with Jesus.