Today I continue answering some questions you’ve asked. Roxanne Henke, a wonderful author I’ve had the pleasure of editing, asked three good questions.
1. How can a writer stay motivated when discouraged?
Rejection is always hard. You pour your best efforts into your manuscript and hope for a positive response and instead you get a dull rejection letter or e-mail, often MONTHS after you submitted it.
Here’s what I suggest. First, just know that virtually all writers have faced rejection. You can’t take it personally. Second, if you know that God has called you to write, you must take your confidence from that calling and not allow rejection to rob you of your destiny as a writer. Third, always have more than one project out to an editor. If one comes back rejected, you can still have hope for the others that are still under consideration. Finally, remember that you’re in this for the long haul. Instant success isn’t going to happen. Pay your dues, be patient, keep writing, and look for God’s opportunities.
2. How do you decide which (of many) ideas to work on first?
This is a hard one for me. I have so many ideas and proposals in the preparation stage I sometimes don’t really know which ones to work on. Usually, it’s a combination of several factors. One factor is which project generates the most creative excitement in me? Is that also the one that’s most marketable? If so, I’ll work on that one. If you have several good ideas and are still unsure, I’d write a one-sheet (or longer if necessary) for each one and see if simply writing about the projects brings clarity. You might even discover that one or more of your ideas can be rejected. Finally, if you have a good agent, ask him or her for advice. Agents often list career planning as one of their advantages. Tell your agent you want to have a brainstorming session and discuss several ideas with him or her. An agent that used to represent me once gave me some good advice that I discounted…and I later realized I was wrong. I should have followed her advice.
3. How important is a title to catch an editor’s eye?
For me as an editor, a title isn’t as important as the concept and the writing. If I like the proposal, I know we can always come up with a better title. That said, I do know that when I see a dazzler of a title, it makes me sit up and take notice. For instance, who could resist a title like Kevin Lehman’s Have a New Kid By Friday. Or perhaps his follow-up book, How to Have a New Husband By Friday?
4. When can you ‘legitimately’ call yourself a writer? (I once had someone tell me–rather snootily–that I had to have something published that was more than 100 words long.)
I think the answer is purely subjective and depends on how YOU define being a writer. I know I would have legitimately called myself a writer before I was published. It’s like asking when can you call yourself a Christian? Is it after you’ve become mature or entered into a ministry or joined a church? No, of course not. The minute a person believes in Christ to be saved, they are from then on a Christian. The decision to follow Christ is the moment the Christian identity begins. Likewise the minute a person knows deep within that they’re a writer, they ARE a writer, in my opinion. The rest of it is just an unfolding of that decision.
Now, everyone please go read After Anne, Roxanne Henke’s first delightful book. You will thank me.