Tag s | Writing Craft

Criticism Is an Unhappy Part of the Business

Let me tell you about a rather interesting day. I spent an entire morning going through my unsolicited proposals in-box. I marked them all for my assistant to send fairly standard email rejection letters, since none were anything our agency could/would handle.

Very soon I received three separate responses via email:

(1) Criticized me for sending an impersonal note, saying they spent considerable time with the proposal and the least I could do was give a corresponding critique. Never mind that the writer failed to follow the guidelines on the site he claimed to have read.

(2) Wrote me to say, “I consider it a disgrace that any American would ignore this story, particularly a man with access to our Christian media outlets who calls himself my ‘brother in the Lord.’ You must not be a prayer warrior, Mr. Laube, because if you were, He’d have guided you as He has me in this decision. Therefore, I wouldn’t want you handling this book.”

(3) Wrote a one word, very personal, extremely vulgar adjective in reply to my rejection letter.

All in one afternoon. So you see, even the agent side of the business receives its share of criticism that is ill-founded, ignorant, and inappropriate.

Next time a critic gives you a negative book review or an editor sends you a sixteen-page, single-spaced, scourging of your manuscript. remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Your response will determine much about your success as a writer. One of our clients claims that the one thing a writer needs to develop, in order to survive this profession, is a thick skin.

How do you respond to critics?

 

[A previous version of this post ran in early March 2011.]

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Even the Best Get Rejected

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I’ve written about rejection before and yet it is a topic that continues to fascinate.

Recently Adrienne Crezo did an article on famous authors and their worst rejection letters. I thought you might enjoy reading a couple highlights of that article and some additional stories I have collected over the years.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected by Alfred Knopf saying it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”
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Who Gets Paid in Publishing?

With all the talk about Independent publishing vs. Traditional publishing and the talk about how writers can get rich if they follow a certain plan…I got to thinking. Maybe we should do a quick look at the Economics of Publishing to see if anyone is making off like a bandit. Sorry for you non-numbers people, but it is critical to understand the infrastructure (i.e. the lifeblood) that keeps your ideas in print.

The detective in the movie says “Follow the money,” so we shall. But first a disclaimer. These models are estimates based on years of reading contracts, profit and loss sheets, spreadsheets, and royalty statements. Your mileage may vary.

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The Only Answer

Hope you had a blessed Christmas!

The last four weeks I have posted what was, in actuality, an Advent series. Note the key words in each post:

Wait
Prepare
Expect
Give

 The Christmas season is one that is full of family, fun, food, and friends. But under it all is the foundation of our joy. The answer to our greatest longing. Of course, saying there is an answer assumes there is a question. Finances, relationships, job, writing, family, church, and school all ask different questions.

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Writers Give to Others

My hope is that this headline is true. While the writing profession (or obsession as some describe it) is a solitary one, it is in giving to others where its impact can be felt.

Time

The gift of time is precious as we are given a finite amount in this life. To mentor another writer. To blog freely. To teach at a conference or school setting. All are example of a beautiful way to both give and receive.

Talent

To use your talent to its fullest is a gift to others. To hone that talent so that it crescendos into the heart of a reader should be the goal of every writer. This talent must be shared. To hoard it for oneself would be a travesty and tantamount to the deadly sin of greed.

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Writers Expect Good News

Writers expect good news…any day now. Is it the curse of eternal optimism?There is this hope within each writer that it will be their manuscript that is chosen for publication. And the money will rain on them like a spring shower.

Despite the odds.

Despite the competition.

Despite the cynical, horrible, no-good, very-bad agents who review them.

Expectations

Are these expectations realistic? Of course they are. It is the essence of hope. For without hope there is no reason to continue the pursuit of the craft. You have to believe that you have what it takes.

Are these expectations practical? Of course not. Who said the writing profession was “practical?”

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Embedded Writing

During World War II, one of the highest profile journalists who wrote about the war for Americans back at the home front was Ernie Pyle. Ernie was one of the first “embedded” journalists in wartime and he lived and wrote while among the soldiers. He focused his stories on individual …

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Brainstorming: How and With Whom?

Brainstorming is one of the fun parts in the development of a book. The key for the author is a willingness to hear other ideas. The second, and most critical key, is discovering those with whom you should brainstorm. Those people need to be willing to have their ideas rejected in the discussions and be willing to let an idea they created to be used by someone else. It takes a special person…many times a professional…to achieve that.

I’ve heard complaints from some authors who try this in a critique group only to be frustrated. Egos get in the way or the ideas generated are singularly unhelpful. Or the discussion doesn’t move the project forward, instead it gets sidetracked by numerous differing opinions on the direction of the piece.

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How to Annoy Your (Fiction) Readers

Some people are more annoying than others—and you know who you are. And some writers are more annoying than others—and you may not know who you are. So I’m here to help. Here are six ways writers of fiction can annoy the heck out of the readers: Give your characters …

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