Thursday, August 9, 2018

The never-ending story.

"Rejection is part of the publishing process. Tell us your most memorable rejections—whether it be from queries, agents, editors, or reviewers. Anything from  your funniest to your most devastating (and how you recovered), and anything in between." 

by guest-blogger Lori Rader-Day

Catriona writes: I'm at the beach and Lori is on a launch-week blogstravaganza for her splendid new novel UNDER A DARK SKY, so she's popped into Criminal Acres to answer this week's question. Lori, take it away!

I love that this question includes reviewers. I talk with not-yet-published writers all the time who are meeting the solid wall of rejection that comes (almost universally) when they’re just starting out, and they seem (almost universally) to understand that if they could just get an agent, all their troubles would be over.

Alas and alack, that is a total lie. You get rejected by agents, and then by editors, and then by reviewers and then? You forgot one, 7 Criminal Minds. Readers.

Writing is a never-ending fun fest of rejection. There’s only one proven way to avoid rejection entirely, and that’s to keep all your writing to yourself. Or I suppose you could never write at all. That’s an option.

But if not writing isn’t an option for you, then buckle up, buttercup. Rejection is a part of the job. Part of the failure you’ll experience, and part of the success. "Success?" you’re wondering. Yes. Because getting rejected by total strangers and written about on Goodreads means that you are writing, publishing, and getting your work read. Sometimes by people who will not like you.

I’ve had plenty of rejection since I started getting serious about writing and publishing. When I first started submitting short stories, you had to send paper copies and include self-stamped, self-addressed envelopes to get your rejection sent to you. (Acceptances you usually got through a lovely email, and you forfeited that stamp, happily.) So if you got a very slim envelope in the mail, that was probably bad news, and even better? The bad news came addressed to you in YOUR OWN HANDWRITING. “Message from Lori! Oh, Lori says Lori sucks.”

My most public rejection was my lukewarm review for my first book, The Black Hour, in the New York Times. I had no business in the New York Times: debut novel, Midwestern setting, new small independent press. I was the first NYT review for my publisher, in fact, so when I opened the review on the day it went live and read, with a sinking stomach, some rather meh observations about my book, I felt as though I had let down my editor, my publisher, and all the other authors there. That rejection hurt mostly because it was so public.

The good news is that even in this failure, I can see (now) the good news: I was in the New York Times, and that mediocre review sold a lot of copies of that book. A lot of copies. That’s a rejection I wouldn’t mind getting again. Flog me, New York Times. I’ll have tougher skin this time around. And that’s what rejection is good for: making sure you can ride the inevitable ups and downs of this business. What we all want is the chance to be rejected (and accepted) again and again—a lifetime of readers taking a chance on us.

Catriona again: I know what you mean. I calibrate my film choices using Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian. If he says a film is startlingly original and though-provoking, I know I'll be bored stiff. if he says it's hokum, I know I'll love it. So, readers of this blog, have you ever bought a book because of a bad review? 

Lori Rader-Day is a three-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, winning the award in 2016 for her second novel, Little Pretty Things. She is the author of Under a Dark Sky, and of The Black Hour, winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, The Day I Died, a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark, Thriller, Anthony, and Barry Awards. She lives in Chicago, where she is active in Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago. 


catriona said...

I really am at the beach, but the wifi is great. Welcome, Lori and a pox on meh reviews.

Ann said...

I don't hold much stock in reviews, good or bad, because I rarely find them aligned with my own opinion. However I do like reading them, particularly when written by another writer I like. It doesn't increase their validity, but it's usually entertaining.

I know I've bought way more books in the past ten or twelve years since I've been able to download a sample. Nothing beats the taste test for me.

I hope you sell billions of copies and the movie/TV rights asap. Keep up the good work Lori!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Good point, Lori. Rejection and bad reviews make for thicker skin and more book sales.

Kate said...

Hahaha “Lori says Lori sucks” made me laugh harder than it should have! Loved this!

Lyda McPherson said...

Lori, Thank you for stopping by this morning. I'm Looking forward to reading your latest "Under a Dark Sky." So to the question, as a reader, do I read reviews? Yes, I do read some of the reviews however I'm in the Ann Mason camp. I agree with her assessment. As to rejection from agents and publishers, those are what I consider business rejections, not creative rejections. They are telling the writer the submission isn't going to make them enough money. If making money is the goal of your writing...yikes.

Claire Youmans said...

I recently got a 3/4 for the 5th book in my historical fantasy series because it wasn't "stand alone" enough. I disagree, but this review would not make me not buy the book -- it might just make me buy it! I look at what the reviewer didn't like. Sometimes those things don't matter to me and sometimes I point blank disagree. Sometimes any publicity is good publicity!

Susan C Shea said...

I was shocked to get a decent if not rave review in the NYT. But that whetted my appetite to get a rave review, so the cycle just goes on. Thanks for dropping by Lori, and good luck with the new book, which IS getting rave reviews.