Monday, August 20, 2018

Keeping it Real

I attended a great dinner with other writers this past week. There were eight of us, and several folks asked questions to get feedback from the others, which is how this group works each month.

One of the things that came up while answering a question was that we, as authors, judge ourselves harshly, but something that makes this worse is that we're seeing a flawed image of how everyone else is doing due to the nature of social media. Most people post the good things, but not much of the bad. (Guilty!) We don't see other people's losses, only their wins. Which makes it look like they're doing way better than we are, which further compounds our insecurities and makes us feel like failures.

This isn't going to change any time soon, but it's something we can all try to be mindful of. We all know we shouldn't be comparing our successes and failures to those of other people, but it's hard to avoid since it comes naturally to many of us.

And, for the record, I post my submission stats each month on my Insecure Writers Support Group posts. I can assure you I get far more rejections than I do acceptances. To give you a more realistic view of it, here's a summary of my submission stats since January:

Total submissions sent out: 36
Total acceptances: 9
Total rejections: 24

Note that the numbers won't line up, because I had some out for submission already at the beginning of the year, and have a bunch pending now. Also bear in mind that I had a higher rate of acceptances this year over last year, and that those numbers are atypical. Last year I got 80 rejections and only 6 acceptances for the entire year. I submitted a total of 95 times for the year, so I sold 6 out of 95 stories submitted in 2017.

I've also been querying a novel. So far, I've gotten 2 requests for the first 50 pages, both rejected after I sent them. Plus 14 rejections and 5 I've assumed rejected after no response.

Persistence matters more than a lot of other factors. I send a story back out within a day or two of getting a rejection.

Anyone who thinks I don't get discouraged is dead wrong. I frequently get discouraged. Some rejections hurt more than others. The stories I think will be The Ones fall flat once submitted. The ones that seem like a hard sell often sell the quickest. I definitely don't have it all figured out yet, and I've been doing this for several years.

Don't get discouraged. Don't compare yourself to other authors. Don't beat yourself up when you don't perform quite how you think you should. Instead, set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate the wins, even the small ones.

Do you find yourself in a slump and beating yourself up too often? What do you do to get out of it? Do you track your submission statistics?

May you find your Muse.

*Sad Scarecrow,, OCAL
*Quality Control: Rejected,, OCAL


  1. That's why we keep doing it. We don't know which ones will be the hits or when. Even as a publisher, the books I expect to sell big sometimes don't, and vice-versa.

  2. I like when people post their stats - I find it inspiring. Yes, because of the acceptances and successes, but also because seeing the persistence of you all, helps me keep going, too. :)

  3. It's so true how much we can be affected by what we see on social media, assuming that everything is rosy for everyone else except you. I love that you share your stats and are so honest about the process.

  4. Hi Shannon - thanks for all the insights and updates on your stats - they interest me, and I admire you for keeping a record ... I guess I would too I suppose if I was sending stories out - it's essential to know what's going on. We don't understand the hows and whys, and the why they just happened, or didn't ... but as you say we must persist ... good luck and cheers Hilary

  5. Wow. You are tenacious! That is why you have success.

  6. This can be exhausting and overwhelming. I'm ridiculously cheery for the most part but need to go lie down somewhere quiet/bang head against wall/cry out all the doubts and fears like everyone does! Big supportive hugs all round!

  7. You're so right. Comparisons never work. Someone is always doing better, even if sometimes it is an online illusion.
    I suspect even bestselling authors have it hard. We should all compare only with ourselves. How did I do 10 years ago? Well, I'm a much better writer now, I've learned a lot in the intervening years. X finished stories. Y publications. Hooray!

  8. I try not to beat myself up when I'm in a slump. Sometimes I manage well and other times not so much.

  9. So very true! I wish I had a such a great group of writers near me. That support definitely helps:)