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Writing and Publishing

Practical Tips for Dealing with Rejection

Rejection comes at two times: prior to publication and after publication. 

Pre-publication rejection comes from agents and publishers saying “no” to our work. It isn’t good enough or “doesn’t meet our needs at this time.” A form of what can feel like rejection also comes from feedback on our work from critique groups, beta readers, and editors.

Post-publication rejection comes from reviews and online (or in-person) criticism of our work. This type of rejection is often the hardest to deal with because it may be mean-spirited or a personal attack.

Here are some ways to deal with rejection and negative feedback:

Accept that Rejection Will Occur: Know that rejection and negative feedback is part of what it is to be a writer. There’s no way to avoid it. The common advice is to develop a thick skin. Yes, that’s true. But how do we go about becoming thick-skinned? 

Developing a thick skin isn’t easy, but try focusing on the reasons why you write. What drew you to writing in the first place? What parts of it give you joy or fill you with satisfaction? Hold on to these positive elements of writing when dealing with the hurt of rejection.

Some writers keep a file of positive notes, emails, and other encouraging feedback. When rejection or hurtful comments occur, they spend time reviewing what they’ve saved in their file to offset the negative.

Consider the Source: Look at who is rejecting or criticizing your work. Do they know what they’re talking about? Do they have the expertise to state an informed opinion? Have they even read your piece, or are they rejecting what you wrote based on some external or inconsequential bit of information? 

Everyone has a right to state their opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is worth our time to consider it.

Seek to Learn from It: Each rejection or criticism holds the potential for a learning opportunity. Yes, rejection stings. But often there’s something in it we can take hold of and use to improve our writing, whether it’s in this piece or the next. Don’t dismiss these potential tidbits just because they exist within a hurtful rebuke.

Know When to Dismiss It: We should ignore some rejections and criticisms outright. The negativity that fails to address our writing but instead focuses on us as an individual is a personal attack that doesn’t merit our attention. Recognize that the person making this attack has a personal issue they’re dealing with inappropriately. Unfortunately, they chose to direct their problem at you. Dismiss their words and move on.

Limit Your Exposure: Many authors never read the book reviews that readers post online. They face two risks in doing so. One is to believe all the five-star reviews, and the other is to believe all the one-star reviews. Both give us an unbalanced perception of our writing ability or lack thereof. Therefore, don’t read your reviews. 

Other authors have an assistant read their reviews. The relay only those comments that may contain relevance to the author.

Of course, pledging to not read reviews and then following through is hard. But the risk of not doing so is too high, with one scathing review—even if unwarranted—possessing the potential to send us into a downward spiral of despair. 

Instead of reading reviews, write your next book.

Take Time to Grieve: This bit of advice reminds us to not push aside the pain of rejection but to acknowledge it. Just don’t wallow in it. Some people take a day or two to cool off. Others indulge in a guilty pleasure, such as a bowl of ice cream or chocolate candy bar. Or they may hang out with friends who understand them, love them, and encourage them. Then they resume writing.

Any writer who shares their work with anyone should expect various forms of rejection to occur. Accept this reality as part of writing, but strive to not let it damage you as a writer or as a person. Use it to make you a better writer and a stronger person. Then keep on writing.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Self-Editing Tips for Writers

It’s hard to catch mistakes in our own writing. No matter how hard I try, I still miss a lot. With every piece I get back from an editor, I’m dismayed over the many errors I didn’t catch, even though I know better.

Of course, they also spot many mistakes I would have never caught, which is why I always use at least two editors for every book. Despite these shortcomings, editors often remark that my writing is clean. But given all their corrections, I’d hate to see a piece that wasn’t.

So how do we catch errors in our writing before sending it to an editor?

Edit from a printed copy: Many authors print their work and edit from a hard copy. One author says she touches the tip of her pen to each word as she reads it. Though this is a good idea, I don’t have that much patience. 

I don’t print my work. I’m too frugal (codename for cheap) and environmentally conscience to waste paper and ink printing each book multiple times. Therefore, I do all my editing onscreen, knowing I’d catch more errors if I scrutinized it in printed form as opposed to an electronic version.

Read Backwards: Though it seems nonsensical, I’ve heard writers who insist they read backward when proofing their work. I tried it—for about ten seconds—and gave up. I don’t get this technique, not at all.

Read Aloud: To combat my aversion to printing my work, I began reading it out loud. Though my wife gave me strange looks and mocked me, I caught many more errors with this approach. Unfortunately, since I knew what I intended to write, that’s often what I read, even though that’s not what I typed.

Use Text-to-Speech Software: An even more effective way to proof work is through text-to-speech software. That way my computer reads my words to me. I catch so many errors this way. It may be why editors often say my writing is clean. This method works for me and works well.

I use this approach when editing my work. I do so three times for each book. The first is before it goes to my developmental editor. The second is before it goes to my copy editor/proofreader. And the third is just before I publish it.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

8 Tips to Improve as a Writer

Here are the actions I pursue to improve as a writer: 

  1. Write regularly.
  2. Read a lot (I struggle the most with this tip).
  3. Study writing.
  4. Listen to writers and publishing podcasts. 
  5. Follow writing blogs.
  6. Participate in writers’ groups.
  7. Attend writing conferences.
  8. But the most important tip is to write.

These tips helped my writing improve. May they do the same for you.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Quantity versus Quality

For years my goal was to write faster, but I made no effort to write better. Though I did improve, my progress was gradual.

When I got serious about improving as a writer, I had to force myself to slow down and be more deliberate. Now after many years of focusing on the craft, my speed has returned and then advanced even more.

But I lost a couple of decades focusing on quantity instead of quality. If I could have a do-over, I’d focus on content first and not worry about speed.

I call this my quantity versus quality error.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Tips on Getting Feedback

After writing regularly, the second most valuable thing I did was to get feedback on my writing. It was scary at first (and sometimes still is).

But to get feedback from our family or friends doesn’t count. They love us and will only tell us good stuff. Or even worse, they’ll say our writing is good when it isn’t.

Instead, get feedback from serious writers and readers. But don’t request feedback from someone who doesn’t write or read in your genre; they’re not qualified to give valuable input.

Here are some ideas for getting feedback:

  • Join a critique group, either online or in person.
  • Work with another writer to provide feedback to each other.
  • Hire an editor or mentor to help you hone your words.

Something that’s important to me when I give and get feedback is to “speak the truth in love.” I’ve worked with some editors who gave me good feedback, but their delivery was so caustic that it made me ill.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.