Milestones are tricky beasts. Sometimes they nudge your life in a different direction through stealth, and you are not even aware of them until months, or even years, later. Others announce their presence with a trumpet voluntary and fireworks.

In the last two years I have sprinted past a number of milestones – first blog, first blog post, first submission, first publication, first review, first podcast, and now first rejection. Yet of all those firsts, the one that has made the least impact on my life was the last.

Being rejected by Harper Voyager [the science fiction imprint of Harper Collins] should leave me feeling gutted. It doesn’t. And no, I’m not just saying that to cover up some deep seated, intensely private pain. There is no pain. As milestones go, this one did not even make it to a whimper much less a bang. Continue reading “Milestones”

The Most Dangerous Profession

Recently the good folks who run the Indies Unlimited website asked me to start contributing a monthly column on the writing profession. They suggested I talk about my experiences and feelings on being a writer. I mentioned that might cause severe depression leading to mass suicide among the site’s followers. But the webmasters don’t care whether you live or die, so here we are.

Like many people who make their living as writers, I have a love/hate relationship with the craft. While you sometimes love the feeling of turning out a piece of finely phrased prose, unless you are one of the tiny handful of writers who are vastly successful, you pretty much hate everything else about the business. You don’t make much money, frequently have to write on topics that don’t interest you to make any money at all, often have to deal with editors who either don’t have the time or the interest to give your story the attention you feel it deserves, suffer bouts of writer’s block, feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, jealousy, and have to deal with massive amounts of rejection. And that’s all on a good day. Continue reading “The Most Dangerous Profession”

6 Lessons Learned from 138 Rejection Letters

I wrote my first novel in 1994, when self-publishing was like substance abuse: whispered about in dark corners, the afflicted looked upon with pity-filled glances. If I wanted to see this puppy in print I had two viable options: large press or small press, but both involved a thumbs-up from a gatekeeper.

I chose the large press route. For that, you needed a literary agent. Because that was The Way It Was Done Back Then. (And maybe still is, but I haven’t been in that burg for a while.) If you weren’t Clive Cussler’s nephew’s babysitter, you needed a literary agent or you went into the slush pile with the other wannabes. Blind determination netted me 138 rejections from literary agencies from New York to Los Angeles. As I move toward my third published book, and second self-published one, I’ve been thinking about the lessons learned from that dogged (if misguided) persistence. Continue reading “6 Lessons Learned from 138 Rejection Letters”

Exception Rejections by Bill Stephens

Author Bill Stephens

Before I became an indie author, I did serious agent querying for my current project, and I learned that agents have discovered something more demeaning and insulting than the “Dear Author” form letter/post card/email rejection. I’ve dubbed it the “Exception Rejection.”

Here’s how it’s explained on the agent websites: “We receive such a high volume of queries, that we respond only to those in which we are interested. If you have not heard from us in four to six weeks then consider that we have passed on your project. Do not under any circumstances inquire about your submission or we will put your genitals in a vise and force you to watch us eviscerate your first-born. ” Actually, I added that last part. Continue reading “Exception Rejections by Bill Stephens”