Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hello All!

Thanks so much for inviting me here to chat with you today. If you’d like to read a bit more about me or my books, you can check out my website at or my blog at leftwriter. Carolyn suggested I write a post about my experiences first getting published as a novelist, so I thought I would tell you about just one part of the journey towards getting a book published.
The toughest thing about writing a book is the writing, of course. That is – until you finish the book. Then, after many drafts and redrafts, polishes and parings, when you finally have a product in your hands that you can be proud of, you find out the truth. The writing, and yes even the editing and re-writing, is the wonderful, creative part – but not the hard part. That part is waiting for you…right now, right around the corner of satisfaction that you turn when the last edit is complete.

Oh, I can hear what you’re saying. How hard can submitting be? Slap together a query letter, drop it into the mailbox and wait for the acceptance. Right?
Uh, sorry. Writing a query letter is hard work, and has to be done right. Wait a minute…I can hear you again! But for someone experienced in writing a whole novel, for Pete’s sake, it should be a piece of cake, right? And once its done, you just sit back and wait for the offers to publish to roll in.
Maybe. Maybe not. There’s a little word that stands in the way. A word that separates the curds from the whey, the wheat from the chaff and the weak of stomach from their breakfasts. And that word is:

Some people pin their rejection letters to the wall. Others turn them into toilet paper. Let me tell you a bit about my own experience with the dreaded word…
It took me a year to write my first book, SEEDS OF TIME. I wrote it mostly after midnight, because my kids were pretty small and it was a peaceful time after they went to bed.

Once I had finished the book, cleaned it up to the best of my ability and started sending it out. After wasting a whole year on sending the actual ms out on exclusives, I got smart and began to send query letters. At that time (and still to this day) I was a member of the CompuServe Writers’ Forum (now called Books & Writers, I believe). This is an on-line forum where writers gather to share info and research work and to commiserate over all the things that we need to whine about.
About that time, a friend of mine on the forum had also finished her story – a romance – and she was looking to find an agent. And so, to make the process less painful, we decided to have a Rejection Queen contest. We agreed to race to 100 rejections – a nice round number that another writer friend of ours claimed she had achieved before publishing.
And so we did. Every time I’d collect my mail and find an envelope addressed in my own handwriting (the dreaded return of the SASE) I would cry a little, and then go on line.

“You are not fit to clean my boots,” I would proclaim to my friend, “because you have a mere 15 rejections, and I have a full 17!”
I have to add that this contest took place in full view of the many hundreds of other forumites, and they all chimed in with words of encouragement and (again) commiseration.
This went on for several months, until one day my friend logged onto the forum, and made a huge show of passing me the scepter and crown, and the assorted accoutrements of office. After some 27 rejections, her story had been picked up by an agent.

There was much jubilation on the forum, and we were all thrilled for her. Over the next couple of days, we had a lot of speculation who would step into her regal shoes, and continue the race with me, because I was only up to 26 rejections or so. We were still hashing this out when…
…my novel was accepted for publication. I’ve never looked back.
Five novels later I have to say that I am so happy I took this route with my on-line (and occasionally in-person buddy). It helped take the horrid sting out of rejection, and let me focus on listening to what the editors and agents said about my work. It allowed me to tighten my manuscript and make a better book, and that’s what eventually sold it.
It’s all a question of getting your story in front of the right eyes at the right time.

I wish you well in your own pursuit of rejection…for it is only those who tread that path all the way through the muck and mire, passed the cliffs of insanity and over the foothills of despair who will find their way to publication.
It’s a trip worth taking.

~kc dyer
blogging as leftwriter


Jillian Cantor said...

Thanks for guest posting! What a great story of rejection and triumph! I love that you had an online group of writer friends to share the rejection with.

kc dyer said...

My pleasure, Jillian! My on-line writing buds are with me to this day -- we all support each other. It's great that they all have my back!


Tracy Madison said...

Hi, KC! What a great post, and thank you so much for guest posting here at The Novel Girls!

Rejections are tough, but man, when that call comes in--it's even sweeter.

Lesley Livingston said...

Thanks for joining us, KC! Fantastic story - and your group sounds wonderful.

Carolyn McTighe said...

Thanks KC. I loved reading this post. I know you were very busy and I appreciate that you took the time to write for us. All the best.

Maureen Lipinski said...

Thanks so much for joining in on the fun! And, boy, I admire you for writing well into the wee hours of the morning. Working full-time and having a toddler usually leaves me brain-dead by 10pm!