Authors may well be justified in feeling angry and hateful when their hard work is slated by a critic, but it is rarely a good idea to react impulsively on those emotions. Instead, follow these suggestions on how writers should respond to book critics.
Writer's Almanac Podcast this morning and heard that it's the birthday of Frank Herbert, author of the science fiction masterpiece Dune. Herbert is just one name on a long list of writers who found success after being repeatedly rejected. Nearly twenty publishers told Frank Herbert "no thanks" after he'd submitted the manuscript for Dune. Eventually Dune was accepted by Chilton, a publisher of auto repair manuals and an unlikely launching pad for a book that would go on to define an entire genre, sell over 12 million copies, and get made into a movie (twice). So, if you're feeling down, rejected, unsupported, or otherwise low about where you're at in your writing life, try to remember that plenty of famous writers established their careers only after years of beating their heads against closed doors. If you're passionate about the craft of writing, it's best to heed the advice of poet Todd Boss: "Never Give Up."
A writer that has never been rejected is either a liar or blessed with anomalous luck; and luck is already by its very nature, ya know,... anomalous. Literary rejection is more than just a professional hazard or rite of passage; it's something we have to deal with continuously. Even famous authors get told NO from time to time. But common as it is for writers, rejection still stings! So how do you keep the swelling down? Here are a handful of articles with advice on how to keep things in perspective and stay productive in the face of rejection: 1. Five ways to get the most out of your rejection letters 2. Dealing with literary rejection: tips from Sarah Fawn Montgomery
1. It gives you a chance to take another look at your workMaybe your story or poem is ready to submit to the next publisher or editor on your list. Or maybe it needed some extra attention, a different ending, a change of tone. Now that you've had some time and space away from the piece,...
Todd Boss' writing. He's a little like Kay Ryan, only male and midwestern. His poems, like Ryan's, are compact, playful, filled with internal music, and demand as much of themselves as they do of the reader — which I guess is my way of saying they strike me as the best sort of "accessible" poems. On top of enjoying his poetry, I was also happy to discover that he seems like a nice guy. I met him briefly last year at the Printer's Row LitFest in Chicago just before he gave a reading — and he even took a request. Anyway, I digress...
Dealing with rejection as a writerA few months later, Todd posted this photograph on his Facebook profile of twelve rejection letters he'd received from Poetry Magazine over the years:
Negative book reviews are a fact of life. They will happen. But being prepared for such an experience doesn’t make the pain any less real.