Book Review

Yes, It’s Personal

We’d all like to think everyone will love all our books. But it just won’t happen. It’s personal, and that’s okay.

Based on past posts, regular followers of this blog might conclude that I don’t like any book I start. That’s not true, but I’ll admit I’ve ditched a couple more books lately. One is a classic, but I didn’t like spending time with a protagonist mixing copious amounts of drink and drugs. Despite his appearance in a book, by page 80 I can tell he’s no fun at all. The second is a general market suspense novel by a bestselling author. As a lover of the genre, I’m the author’s natural audience. Yet after reading over 130 pages, I don’t care about the outcome. The author’s fans would disagree since this series is into well over 40 books. But there you have it – one reader’s opinion. I wish the author well. The other author died long ago.

But let’s talk about your book. Sometimes it’s personal when an editor declines a manuscript. Why? Because even though you’ve read many books in the genre and have targeted that house, for some reason, your work didn’t resonate with him. Does this mean you’re inept? Not necessarily. Your book just didn’t hit the mark with that particular person.

How to fix this?

You can, and you can’t. Your agent might submit different books from you to the same editor, but your work never makes it into the acceptance stack. The disconnect may lie with the work itself, or the list is too full with similar authors, or she doesn’t think she’ll get it through committee. Or some other reason no one will ever know.

Cast the net wide

Your hope is to write the best book you can for the most extensive target market you can. When your book is a strong possibility for a number of editors, chances of success are higher than if you go too narrow.

Write something better!

But what if it still doesn’t sell? Don’t cling to a lone book as though it’s the last life raft floating past the Titanic. No time you’ve spent writing is wasted. UNLESS you keep pitching. And pitching. And pitching the same book that never sells no matter which agent or editor you approach. Please, for everyone’s sake, write something else.

You know those lime green trousers hanging in your closet that you wore only once? And you paid $250 for them? Yes, those, or maybe in your case it’s a sunflower-patterned orange blouse you bought at a yard sale for $2. Anyway, the trousers seemed like a good idea when you bought them. Lime green was the IN color that year, and they looked smashing. But they no longer work. And now you hold on to them because you don’t want to “throw away” the $250 you spent on them. I hate to break it to you, but you will never get your money back.

The trousers are just like your book that won’t sell after years of trying. Except at least you’ve learned from writing your book. So place it lovingly in a special file on your computer and say not “goodbye” but “’till we meet again” to it. It will always be there, ready to be revised later, if you like.

But for today? Keep writing. Do what works for your life now.

Your turn

How many books have you written?

If you are published, how many books did you write before you were published?

What would you say to encourage writers today?

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