Traditional books are going through an epic transformation at the moment unlike anything we have seen since the Gutenberg printing press or the Linotype. The advent of popular digital books has seen the removal of the middle-man (publishing houses) between the writer and the consumer, and it is throwing the traditional publishing business into a tailspin.
Independent authors are celebrating the demise of traditional publishing with a fervor usually reserved for a moon landing or the final episode of Breaking Bad. To many, it’s Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead, and now I can finally publish my epic masterpiece.
“Now all the world can look upon my Star Wars-Chipmunk erotica and weep with delight!”
Here’s a word to the wise, independent writers: be very careful what you wish for. Publishing houses reject books for a reason, and it’s not just because they don’t love your Beards-by-Patrick-Rothfuss makeover.
There are damn few people that can tell a good story, and fewer still who can do it over 300 pages. Every time I got turned down by a publisher, it made me look inward and discover something about my story that could be better. It made me better. The magic is always in the re-write.
A unique kind of transformation happens through rejection. It forces you to sharpen your skills, cut the fat and remember your job as a storyteller. J.K Rowling, Louis L’Amour, C.S. Lewis, Stephanie Meyers were all rejected multiple times. The initial rejection for H.G. Wells War of the Worlds read: “An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book,” and William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies received this awesome bullet to the head: “An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
15 million copies of rubbish. C’mere Piggy.
It’s easy to say “keep trying and you will succeed,” but that’s a Disney Saturday Morning feel-good maxim and I don’t think it’s true. The point is that getting kicked in the teeth is an imperative test of one’s character. You get stronger with every rejection.