Tag Archives: professional image

Gaining strength through rejection #amwriting

We who are authors and artists are notoriously thin-skinned. When we are young in the profession and still consider our works to be the equivalent of our perfect children, we bleed profusely when you admit you didn’t really enjoy what we wrote (or sang, or painted). Some of us handle this kind of conversation with grace and dignity, and others not so well.

But what if the unloved thing was the best thing we ever wrote?

It does happen.

I get ten rejections at least for every one acceptance, but usually many more. I get so many that I hardly even notice them nowadays. I just keep the revolving door revolving. After all, if you don’t submit your work, you won’t get any acceptances.

When I first began shopping my work out, I would feel crushed upon receiving a rejection. However, when I look back at those efforts, I can clearly see why those particular pieces weren’t accepted.

First, I had no idea what a finished manuscript should look like. The internet wasn’t a thing yet, and I hadn’t heard of William Shunn or his instructions for how to properly format a manuscript. I knew my finished story had some problems, but I didn’t understand what those problems were or how to resolve them. I naively assumed an editor would fix them, because that’s what editors do, right?

Wrong.

I wasn’t as well educated as I thought I was. Typos, dropped and missing words, long, convoluted sentences, and hokey dialogue—all found their way into my first efforts.

I began to get past that stage when I found Orson Scott Card’s book, “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

I still didn’t understand everything, or even most of anything. But I was on the road to learning more about what I didn’t know. Books on the craft of writing began to fill my shelves, and I took classes and went to seminars.

Nowadays my work is submission ready and as clean as I can make it. Sometimes my work is accepted, and believe me, I celebrate. Most of the time it is rejected, and not because it is bad. Most of the time, rejection means that I submitted something that wasn’t what the editor was looking for.

Editors usually have a certain kind of story in mind when they put out an open call, and only a few of the landslide of submissions will be accepted. Those that are accepted are the few that perfectly fit the editor’s original concept.

What I’m going to say next has been said before, many times. Sometimes we receive a form letter rejection that boils down to “Sorry, but no.” It isn’t personal, so don’t brood over it. Those kinds of rejections are bad only because they don’t tell us why the piece wasn’t acceptable.

Sometimes we receive a little encouragement: “Try us again.” That means exactly what it says, so the next time you have something you think will fit in that anthology or magazine, send them a submission.

I know this makes no sense, but when an editor explains their reasoning in a letter, it is very likely that some phrase will be like a knife to the chest for the author. This is because it’s a rejection and may contain detailed criticism.

I once got a rejection from an anthology along with a note that said the subject of my quest had been done before. I was a little surprised and hurt because I felt that comment was vague and meant they didn’t even bother to read the story.

I could have responded childishly, but that would have been foolish and self-defeating. The truth was the type of quest it involves has been done before. I felt that my story was original in its presentation, but it didn’t ring that editor’s bells.

I hauled myself off to a corner and licked my wounds. Then, I sent that editor a response thanking them for their time. An editor’s bluntness is valuable, so I will someday rework that tale with a different twist.

We live in a world that is always observing us. We are judged by the way we act and react in every professional interaction. If you’re in a writing group and your work isn’t as well received as you thought it would be, don’t respond to a peer’s criticism without thinking it through.

Even worse, if you fly off and send a flame mail to an editor, you risk doing irreparable damage to your career—you will be put on that editor’s “no way in hell” list.

Also, please don’t go bad-mouthing that editor on Twitter or Facebook. All that drama is just plain embarrassing, and unprofessional.

It’s easy to forget that editors are also authors. They are involved with the same forums in all the many social platforms you are, so be careful of what you say online. Editors are just like the rest of us, and they’ve experienced their share of rejection.

When an author has a public tantrum, the innocent bystanders remember it. Snide tweets about other authors, awkward Instagram photos, or Facebook rants don’t show a person in a good light.

I shouldn’t have to remind anyone of this, considering all the noise about Facebook and our personal information, but how we interact online with others is public information and is visible to the world.

We must always consider what an interested reader will find when they  Google our author name. Our online interactions at Goodreads, Twitter, and in every other public forum will be available for eternity.

What should you do if your work is accepted, but the editor would like a few revisions?

If the editor wants changes, they will make clear what they want you to do. This happens most often for submissions to an anthology. Editors know what their intended audience wants.  Trust that the editor knows their business.

Make whatever changes they request.

Never be less than gracious to any of the people at a publication when you communicate with them, whether they are the senior editor or the newest intern. Be a team player and work with them.

Negative feedback is a necessary part of growth. I keep a file of my rejection letters/emails. Most are simple: “We are not interested in this piece at this time.” Some have short notes attached with the words, “Try us again in the future.” Some contain the details of why a piece was rejected, and while those comments are sometimes painful, they are the ones I learn from.

Rejection is the most common kind of response an author will receive, sometimes for years. How we react to it is where each of us has the opportunity to cross the invisible line between amateur and professional. My next post will be on making your short-story manuscript “submission ready.”

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Manners and Toxic Professional Relationships #amwriting

This last week’s #CockyGate furor has stirred a lot of people up and brought down some harsh criticism for the offending author.

Ceri Clark in her blog for Myrddin Publishing summed it up quite well in her article, The #CockyGate Trademark Kerfuffle: “The danger of letting this trademark happen is that authors could trademark other common English words. This could be the or billionaire, or how about star?”

This made me think about manners and the world of the ephemeral. Everything we say and do as public people is open to scrutiny—forever. To that end, I thought it time to reprise a post from 2017 regarding our personal reputations, Manners and Toxic Professional Relationships.


Working authors rely on the world of the internet. We must not only have our own website, but we must also have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, a Goodreads page, a Twitter page, and now we must also use Instagram.

In this electronic world, an icon or avatar is the pictorial representation of our alter ego or character. This is the image that appears beside our user-name on every comment we post on any forum on the internet and is our internet face.

We carefully select what we put up to represent us because we want people to see us as who we think we are.

The common courtesy that we would extend in a face-to-face conversation should extend into our online conversations. These conversations are places where we are represented in two ways:  by the picture we have selected as our ‘icon’ or ‘avatar’ and by what we write in the comments sections of public forums.

How we interact with other authors is public information and is visible to the world. When an interested reader Googles our author name, our online interactions at Goodreads and every other public forum will be available for eternity.

In my own life, I have learned to  phrase my comments with care, because some hypersensitive souls become deeply wounded by what they perceive as casual slights, and things blow up way out of proportion.

We must have a care about the way we behave.  We are judged by the way we act and react in every online interaction.

This brings me to the breach of common courtesy that brought this subject up in my mind. This turned up, posted on my Facebook author page, out of the blue:

Thank you Connie for the invite to your page coming to say hello and bring some love. Hope to have some in return here: https://www.facebook.com/—-/ Be sure to check out my writing group –(deleted group name)– where Writers can post blurbs, giveaways, get beta readers, and more here: https://www. facebook.com/groups/——-/

This was a surprise, as I had not ever to my knowledge met or spoken to this person, nor had I invited her to like my page. I don’t engage in those sorts of antics as I want readers to find my page. My author Facebook page is for readers to find my work, engage with me about it if they choose, and perhaps find a book they might like.

If you, as an author, are invited to ‘like’ another author’s Facebook page or website AND you choose to do so, it’s not appropriate for you to then post a comment on their page that you have done so and also post the links to your pages or books.  The proper way to inform the author you have ‘liked’ their page is to send them a personal message saying you have done so and include those links in that message.

Some of these offenders have no idea how rude such behavior is. However, most do and don’t care, as they’re only interested in advancing themselves. These are what I think of as Toxic Professional Relationships, and I refuse to interact with them unless they are playing nice. I set boundaries.

Random authors who post ads and links for their books and websites are not welcome on my Facebook author page. Their posts are immediately deleted. I won’t disparage them, but I refuse to be a part of their PR team.

If you are desperate for FB likes and believe anything will help, there are groups out there on Goodreads for authors who want to engage in “Facebook Page Like Parties.” When I first began as an author, I was advised to do that. I ‘liked’ about 50 authors’ pages, and only about 10 of those ‘liked’ me back.

I soon realized that Goodreads ‘Like’ Parties didn’t help me find readers, which is what an author needs to do. I made a personal commitment to ‘like’ the pages of authors whose work I enjoy and not worry about whether or not they like my page in return because it doesn’t matter.

We live and interact in a world of the electronic ephemeral. It has no physical place in our lives as a tree or an animal might, but the ramifications of what we do and say in that world are monumental.

The internet never forgets.

The internet is forever and deleting a comment you regret making won’t make it go away because it has already shown up in the in-boxes of all the users on that forum.  We communicate instantly and frequently with no filters between the brain and the keyboard.

In this world of instant communication and myriad opportunities for damaging your own reputation, it is critical to think before you do.

To that end, I offer up this list of suggested “manners” for authors in the world of the internet. I didn’t invent them; they are copied directly from the website “Common Sense Media” and made to apply to indie authors trying to make their way in the cruel world of the internet:

Rules for Online Etiquette

Context is everything. If you want to have a silly online name that conforms to the convention of a particular online community and only your friends there will see it, fine. But for more formal communication — like email addresses, posting comments, or anything to do with work or school — choose a respectable screen name (though not your real name) that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to utter out loud in front of, say, your grandmother. If it is an author related forum, it’s okay to use your author-name.

Double-check before you hit “send” or “post”:  Could something you wrote be misinterpreted? Is it so littered with slang that it requires a Ph.D. in Urban Dictionary to be understood? Were you upset when you wrote it? Check to see if it’s rude, mean, or sarcastic. If so, don’t post it.

Take the high road (but don’t boast about it). Chatting, texting, and status updates are all “in-the-moment” communication. But if there’s an escalating sense of rudeness, sign off. No good will come of firing off a nasty comment. Authors (who are touchy, hypersensitive creatures at best) will NEVER forget how you flamed them. You can always write out a response to get something off your chest … without sending it.

Grammar rules. Rumors of grammar’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. (I love that line!) But again, context is key. An IM to a friend can dangle as many participles as you want, but anything more formal — for example, a public online comment or a note to a colleague — should represent your best self. This applies to capital letters, too. By now, everyone knows that writing in all caps means that you’re shouting, but it bears repeating once your kid starts interacting online.

Keep a secret. In today’s world, photos, texts, and videos can be posted, copied, forwarded, downloaded, and Photo-shopped in the blink of an eye. If you think something might embarrass someone, get them in trouble, compromise their privacy, or stir up drama of any kind, keep it to yourself — and maybe delete it from your timeline or the thread for good measure.

Remember the Golden Rule. Don’t post something online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. If you do have something negative to say, discussing it in person is a better way to resolve your issues. Post nothing on someone else’s wall that you would not be glad to have on your own.

These suggestions translate directly to Do No Harm.

Behave with dignity and extend the common courtesies to others that you wish to have extended to you.


Credits and Attributions:

#amwriting: manners and toxic professional relationships by Connie Jasperson, © 2017, first published January 17, 2017, on Life in the Realm of Fantasy.

Common Sense Media  7 Rules to Teach Kids Online Etiquette By Caroline Knorr posted 5/5/2011, accessed Jan 1, 2017

Eye on Flat Panel Monitor, Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

 

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