In comments to the post, How To Find A Literary Agent, Jesse made the following comment. I wanted to (again) address rejection and the freelance writer.
Actually, I’m writing in behalf of my son. Last year he finished a novel, I guess it would be generally classified as sci-fi, although it has a lot of different elements from comedy to tragedy to mystery. I helped him with the proofreading and it was re-written a few times. The end product is good.
He asked me to help submit to agencies, which I did. The very first asked for the manuscript, but was rejected very tactfully with encouragement to “find a home” for his work.
Since then I submitted to a few more, with a few encouraging rejections, :^).
The problem I have is that he is getting discouraged, and this is the 1st in a series of four that he plans for this particular project.
I really have enjoyed the tips you give, and realized that I also was discouraged. Thanks for the boost. I’m going to try to figure out a marketing plan again.
Maybe this time.. hopefully.
First, would you please congratulate your son for me? I can’t tell you how many people say they want to write and never even start, let alone finish a book! Good job!
If he’s getting personalized rejections he’s actually close to getting published. Personalized rejections are actually golden. It means the editor or reader not only read a great deal of the book, but liked it well enough to take the time to send something other than a standard or automatic rejection. It’s real encouragement that he’s close.
Make sure both of you understand that. For writers rejection is just the beginning. Also know that when a publisher buys the first in a series, the subsequent sales are almost guaranteed.
It’s amazing how many times first time book authors are rejected. Consider Katheryn Sockett – she wrote The Help and was turned down 60 times!
It may be time for both of you to re-read the book and see if you can figure out why it’s not selling. Another rewrite sounds awful, I know, but it might be what it takes. Make sure you double check each rejection for any hints.
Maybe you want to find a coach or book doctor – be careful you don’t spend a ton and get some references before you hire anyone, even me.
Finally, I’d re-read the rejections and if I found one from an actual editor, not a first reader or other minion, I might be tempted to try a letter to him or her asking what direction you might help your son take. I don’t know that you’d get an answer, but you just might surface some interesting information. Keep it simple, heart felt and short… and if you send by snail mail, enclose an SASE.
Finally, I’d start activating your own network – who do you know that knows an agent or publisher in the Science Fiction field, or who do you know who knows someone. Or a book writing coach. My hunch is you’re very likely to find a valuable connection or two.
Good luck, and keep us posted, please.
How have you handled rejection?