What to say when people say no.

NoThis doesn’t apply to the hobby writer, but if you are professional, or aspiring to be one, I have some advice you may find useful.  It has to do with when people say no.

Be they editors or agents or what have you, at some point someone’s going to say no to something you’ve written.  Maybe it doesn’t fit what they consider your personal brand.  Maybe it’s “not quite right for us.”  Maybe it’s that, but you could make some changes and then it’ll be right for them.  Maybe it’s not what people are reading right now.  Or at least what they think no one’s reading right now.  Maybe it’s not enough like something you wrote before.  Heck, maybe it’s too much like something you wrote before!

When someone says no, you need to have a good think about what happens next.  Sure, you could ditch your writing and go along with whatever they say.  Or you could dig your heels in and refuse to compromise even a little bit.  But in the publishing business it’s often a straight yes or no, so if you’re going to take the latter option without thinking about it, you’re probably going to lose.

Discouraging, sure, but here’s the thing: what happens is up to you, not to them, whoever “they” are in the situation.  The question becomes whether you truly believe in your work.  Did you do it because of you, or did you do it because you wanted money, or approval, or whatever else?  Is this something you told your way, and can’t be told any way else?

If the story is true to your intentions and your abilities, then you should say no to that no.  Don’t change it to change it, because that will never be right and you will never be happy.  But don’t be difficult about it, either.  Sometimes what works perfectly for you may not fly with others, and no amount of complaining will change that.  In those cases, find another way.  The publishing world is full of opportunities.  Pursue those.  Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

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