I’ve been doing some spring cleaning, well, more like a 15-year cleaning, and found my collection of rejection letters from 2000-2004. I forgot I saved them. Curious, I read a couple. Of course, at the time I received the rejections I thought they (magazine editors) didn’t possibly know what they were talking about—there was nothing wrong with my stories. Uh huh. Now I understand why they were rejected—they weren’t very good. Sure, the grammar was good, but there is much more to writing a story than good grammar. So much more. Plus, I was missing something even more important—a professional edit.
This made me think about all the changes that have been made in the book publishing world, how easy it is to slap together a story and self-publish. On one hand, it is a great opportunity for writers. On the other hand, it might cause newbie writers to rush to publish before they have perfected their craft.
If I could give one bit of advice to new writers it would be: don’t rush to get that first book published. Take the time to learn the craft of writing and take the editing process seriously—hire a good editor. If I had done that with my old stories, they just might have been accepted. Or maybe not.
Think twice before publishing that first book. That one is for practice. Write the next one. And work with a good editor. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my first stories were practice for better things to come.
Think of it this way—does an artist sell that first painting? It’s probably not going to be as good as the next one. Or the one after that. Honing your craft, whether it’s creating a painting or a story, takes time. Having a good grasp of grammar isn’t enough. It took years for me to understand all aspects of writing a novel. The important thing is to not give up.
Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author