Going Rogue: Self-Publishing
In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King describes the frustration felt by many writers. Before he was picked up by a major publisher, King spent many hours writing and sending out stories and manuscripts, only to wind up with another stack of rejection letters. Every time he got a fresh rejection, he would shove it onto a nail in the wall by his desk.
As the stack of rejections grew, he continued to persist.
He also tells the story of his book, Carrie. He had started the book while he was still teaching high school English, and he’d grown disgusted with it so he had thrown it in the trash. It was his wife that rescued it from the rubbish and read it. Her faith in his work compelled him to continue, and the rest is history.
I know that like so many other eager students of writing, I felt a little flicker of hope — maybe one day, it would be my turn.
Or maybe not.
I had a professor who told me how heart-wrenching the writing business can be. It doesn’t love you back, he told me. He told me I should get out of it unless I wanted to be miserable.
But I’m still here.
I take breaks from time to time, but I keep getting drawn back to it: hours spent tapping away furiously at the keyboard, the words coming from some unseen well deep inside me.
Even though I love the craft, I still get frustrated sometimes.
I’ve put a lot of energy and time not only into my work, but into innumerable query letters, author bios, summaries, and more. I’ve provided excerpts, suggested audiences, and word counts. If you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about. You spend perhaps an hour or two sending out a handful of carefully-phrased queries to agents who you hope to connect with — and then you wait.
And then, a few weeks later, you might hear back: Thank you for sending your manuscript. I’m afraid it’s not a good fit for me. Rejected again.
As a writer, you either develop a thicker skin, take up a drinking habit, or quit. I’d like to think my skin is starting to rival that of an elephant’s by now.