It doesn’t seem to matter how good you think you are – chances are you aren’t. At least, not yet, unless of course you are an established author, or creator who makes an income, or gets work published on the regular. Sadly, I am not yet at that standard.
Recently I’ve sent some work out for publication. Nothing major, I would say. No novels (that’s still in the editing process), but I’ve sent out several shorts and poems to various publication magazine. Sadly, they’ve all been rejected. It’s part of the world, and I fully expected each and every one to be sent back. It’s hard not to take these rejections personally, and years ago, I would have slipped into a state of depression, said I sucked, and would never write again. I think that’s normal. However, over the years I’ve learned to accept it. Maybe it’s me telling myself that you can’t please everybody, and what may be enjoyable to one, is absolute trash to another. Other times I think that they don’t actually read it and they just pick at random, especially if there are 1000’s of submission. It’s possible. Let me have that.
After all, we have to do something to keep our spirits up. I don’t mind being rejected, as I’ve said, it’s a part of the world, and it’s something that you have to accept. It’s the only way to get better. But that’s where my biggest qualm lies. No, unless you have the Dunning-Kruger effect, you can always get better, and you should assume that you aren’t the best out there. But what I don’t dig from the publishers and agents out there is that they just straight up say no. Sometimes “No thanks.” Now, what I want to know is why? Okay, great, my work isn’t good enough. But I want to use you as a publisher, which should be flattering to you, despite thousands of submissions. In turn, you should want people in your publishing house, or on your client list. It makes sense right? If somebody’s written something, then they have a drive, which usually works in an employers favor.
So here’s what drives me nuts – the straight up no. Feedback as to why it wasn’t accepted would be nice. This is what leads me to think a lot of work isn’t actually read. I’m not asking for a 30 page critique on my work, but a few lines like, “Work on your themes.” “Work on your atmosphere, and dialogue.” Anything would be a nice little diving bored from which a writer can start to improve. Personally, I get a rejection letter and think, “Alright, expected. Now what?” Sure, I could go over it and rewrite the entire piece, but why? I don’t know what needs improving? What if I go over it and change all of the good aspects, and leave all the garbage in there?
Don’t worry, I know it’s not the job of an agent, or a publishing house to give feedback like that. But wouldn’t it make sense? Surely they make money off of the number of clients they have, or the amount they publish. So if feedback is given and the author takes it to heart and applies said changes, doesn’t that give whomever is receiving the submission an upper hand? They have a higher quality piece of writing, AND they know they have an author who will do what it takes to get their work published.
Another counter argument is, “Have other people read it and give you their thoughts.” Great, fantastic, but not practical. Most friends will either not read it and say it was great, or just say good things because they’re your friends. And any feedback received really means nothing because they aren’t the publishers. Publishers/agents probably have a different opinion on what they want than the average Joe. So while feedback from others is beneficial at times, it’s generally useless.
Sadly, we don’t live in a world where people want to take a little extra time to lend a hand, or go above and beyond their job title. At the same time, I can’t blame them, it’s a lot of work for potentially little payoff.
Anywhoo, that’s just my view on it.