Sunday, September 18, 2011

Conferences- A Double-Edged Sword

Once, at the Rutgers conference, a panelist (whose name has totally escaped me) said this:

Don't take rejections personally.  I've been in the business for 30 years and I've sold over 45 books and I still occasionally get a form letter!  That should make you feel better.

Or..... NOT.

We all laughed, but I think as soon as it came out of his mouth, he realized that his statement, intended to encourage us, had actually had the opposite effect on his audience. 

Yikes!  This is some tough business.  And that is the double-edged sword of attending conferences.  You can leave feeling invigorated and inspired.  But you can also walk out feeling slightly discouraged and depressed.  We picked an industry where the odds are so overwhelmingly against us.

What do you do when this industry gets you down?

19 comments:

storyqueen said...

I end up keeping myself busy enough not to really think about it. Occasionally, I will allow myself a day to wallow, but I can't stay there too long.

That is one of the reasons I decided to get an agent--the day to day "business" of being a writer, which is sometimes not so cheery, is now handled by someone who is not ME!

Joanne Fritz said...

Wow! More than 45 books and he still gets a form letter?! That IS depressing. But like Shelley says, if you have an agent, that business is handled by someone else. Did that panelist not have an agent? And do agents send along form rejections to their clients or merely pass along the news that it's been rejected?

Not having an agent (yet) I never thought about that aspect of it. You're right, Corey, it's a frustrating business to be in. But we stick with it because we're compelled to write. Right?

I get depressed for a day or two and then plunge into writing something, maybe a shiny new idea that makes me happy.

Kristen Hilty said...

I felt the same way about SCBWI-NY. Excited but completely depressed at the end of it. Jane Yolen was a keynote speaker, and she told us she gets rejections all the time. JANE YOLEN?!?!?

The only thing that helps me is dogged persistence. (And chocolate.)

Kristin said...

Chocolate. And I give myself a day or so to wallow.

My last conference sort of left me feeling down, but I know for a fact the particular person I was paired with doesn't prefer what I write. So, I try to be objective. (Or at least delusional.) But it's hard, I know. ;)

Talking to writer friends, online or in IRL, helps me, too. They get it.

Kristen, I have snippets of Jane Yolen's speech saved to refer to. That blew my mind when I read she'd received 2 rejections the day before.

Laura Pauling said...

I wallow for a day or so then get inspired with a great book or movie!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I blog. And blog and blog and blog. This is my comfort zone. :-)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Would it be wrong to say chocolate? :)

Angela Ackerman said...

I just step away from emotions. There are too many things I have no control over in this industry, so I focus instead on what I can control--my own development, my own projects, my own platform and web presence. :)

Too, it helps me to help others. I get so much satisfaction from helping someone in some way, big or small. If I can do something for someone else, I do. It helps with the side of this business that we do control, and we're all in this together. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

K said...

At one conference an author told us the statistic of the likelihood of getting published, and I swear about 97% of us almost walked out. I tried to convince myself that I would be in the bracket of getting published, but after several rejection letters the author's words really made me sink down low. I forgot the most important thing: why I was a writer. I write because I love to. So when I get a rejection letter now, I take it as an opportunity to fine-tune my manuscript, almost as a way to say thank you to the person who rejected my piece, because I challenge myself to make it better. Now as I look back I realize that I am becoming a better writer due to the rejection letters I received. So that helps to keep me from getting really down :)

Julie Hedlund said...

I just keep telling myself that I WILL succeed and that I'm in it for the long haul.

But it IS so depressing sometimes, especially when you just want to get your words out to people...

Lydia Kang said...

I try to keep busy and keep my eye on the next project. Also, the publishing industry is changing so much that there are more options for writers out there now.

Cynthia said...

On some of my more challenging days, I try to keep in mind that I'm actually quite fortunate to have the resources to pursue a career in writing kidlit. So whether or not I get published, I'm grateful that I have my ideas, my laptop, and my relationships with awesome writers like yourself Corey. Throwing a handful of sunshine your way!

Lauren F. Boyd said...

It is nice to connect with other writers online for encouragement. Also, when I feel down about it, I figure out what else I can write and submit: a magazine article, another picture book manuscript, a new blog post, etc. It helps me to have lots of irons in the fire, in hopes that one (or more!) will ultimately take.

Karen Akins said...

Unplug. Go on a walk. Hang out with friends who don't know a WIP from a beta. And drink a big, fat margarita.

Kim said...

I wish I had a simple answer for you, but I think if you can focus on the fact that you ARE a great writer. You have three books sold. You have an agent who believes in you. This too shall pass.

Are you doing what you love? Is it worth the rejections to get to the prize? Or is it sucking the joy out of writing for you? If so, maybe it would be renewing to step away for a little bit? Take a little breather?

Kelly H-Y said...

That is SO true! I usually get back to work finding another avenue, but it gets frustrating (especially after you've come close to getting your foot in the door!).

Christa said...

I write because I guess I don't care so much about the industry. (Is that bad?) Everyone tells me you don't make money in it. So I am just writing because I love it. When I'm feeling down about it, I send funny or sexy scenes to my CPs because at least SOMEONE is reading them:)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I reach out to my bloggy and real life writing friends when I get down. They usually can pick me up. :)

Candice said...

The form rejections don't bother me. It's the personal ones that hurt! I just allow myself to be disappointed for a day, and then I move on.