Nobel Prize Winner Turned Down By 19 Publishers

There are 15 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Splinter.

  • Some interesting extracts from the Guardian article:

    Paraphrasing Marcel Proust, he said that you have to be already “famous to be published. We are living in the era of the throwaway book,” he declared.

    I've submitted my humble effort (123,000 words) to 15 literary agents and have now received 8 rejections.…ned-down-by-19-publishers

  • Publishing is a really tough business, and agents are notoriously reluctant to take on new authors. But Remember that it takes just ONE to recognize a manuscript with potential !

  • It's easy to say "be patient," but the book is your baby and I'm sure every rejection is a knife in the heart.

    Here's something from my friends at Google:

    "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was rejected 12 times and J. K. Rowling was told "not to quit her day job.""

    (So be patient, is my advice.)

    (And probably you should keep your day job, for the moment.)

  • It takes time and a lot of patience to get anything published. It was always the same, albeit publishers used to be more open about what they would allow. Market trends are also important and if the end goal is just to be published then following those trends is a way to go.

    I had an agent several years ago but ultimately my book wasn't sold. I have written two more novels since then but haven't tired to 'sell' them. I would never self publish a full novel until years of failure trying to get an agent. Even then it would only be through ego and telling myself that the world simply needs what I created.

    Short story and poetry collections are another matter. Agents and publishers won't touch them unless it is someone known doing them. I have never self published my collections, but I recently completed a series of 50 flash fiction stories of under 200 words each and am considering publishing those.

    I make my living from writing but only the lucky few make theirs from fiction. My income is solid from years of freelancing, not from fiction, which is more of a hobby.

  • Your perspective and experience are very interesting. Could I ask what kind of freelance writing you do? And apparently you can do it from anywhere in the world?

  • Your perspective and experience are very interesting. Could I ask what kind of freelance writing you do? And apparently you can do it from anywhere in the world?

    Before starting, this will be quite long, so if you just want the answer to your question it is below and in bold. However, I want to give an overview of what I do to give people a better understanding and maybe answer other questions you may have.

    I do anything is the real answer, but have specialist niches. My degree is in creative and professional writing, so unless it is especially technical or scientific I can do it. That said, my specialist areas are technology, insurance and to a lesser degree sport. So right now, and indeed for most the time I have been doing this, those three subjects cover around 75% to 100% of my work.

    This started 8 years ago when I moved to Argentina. I have full qualifications to be an English teacher and planned to do that (how original, I know). When I arrived here with only $1,000 to my name I realized teaching would not sustain me long.

    (Off subject, but I find these various companies that teach people how to teach English as a foreign language rarely assess whether the person is actually a good teacher. I sucked but passed the courses like everyone else.)

    I previously worked for a local newspaper for a couple of years in the UK, so decided perhaps I could do something online. I looked into it and started, found some early jobs and built from there. What I will say about freelance writing is you need to be prepared to roll around in the mud because this takes time to build a viable career. I am a fully qualified writer who was earning $1 per article at the beginning and writing about all kinds of inane subjects, but I got my foot in the door, so to speak.

    Now (finally answering your questions) I work for Microsoft, a major insurance company in Canada, and a niche basketball website in Europe. And yes, you can do this anywhere in the world provided there is an available and decent internet connection. That's one of the good things about it, I can go and live most places tomorrow and not have to worry about how I will survive.

    Over the years I have built my reputation and client base. Freelancer websites like Upwork are good, especially to start, but big paying jobs are not on there. Microsoft is not advertising on those sites for example. I have a guy who sort of acts like my freelancing agent I guess. He finds me work and takes a cut percentage of all I earn. This is not a writing team like you may have heard of, where the company takes 80% and the writer 20%. I hire him, not the other way round.

    Since starting I have done diverse things. Short story fiction for kids for an Android app, plenty of pieces that have been physically published, jobs that have allowed me to travel to press events for free or to vacations to meet clients (again for free). That latter one only happened once when a plastic surgeon I wrote for took me to Miami to discuss the work... two weeks after the client dropped me (yes, that happens too) because they didn't like my work.

    Of course, not everyone will love your work every time, so be prepared for rejection and critique. I would say I have around a 90% hit rate. Also be prepared to have clients skip on paying you, or be late to pay you. I have never had someone not pay, but I know it happens. Late payment is a regular problem even when working with established companies.

    There are some major upsides to this job. Firstly, I am doing what I love (writing), even if I would prefer fiction writing. I am earning more money than I have ever earned in my life. I am not a spammer who says earn $10,000 in one week, but I can earn more doing this than I could working for a newspaper. My hours are almost entirely flexible, barring some exceptions. If I want to wake up at 11am, I can. If I want today off I can do it, but would have to be clever in how I cover my work. I work from home, so no traveling, and all the comforts that brings.

    Are there downsides? Yes, of course. I am a real freelancer, which means if I don't work today or tomorrow, I don't get paid. I have a friend who is an editor for Fox and some days he sits in his office twiddling his thumbs and pretending to work and he gets his money at the end of the month. I don't have the luxury, I work if I want to get paid. So if I have that random day off I talked about, I have to work double one other day if I want to get the same amount of money. This also means money I am paid fluctuates each month, but I always try to have a bare minimum level that I pass each month.

    Job security is a similar matter. If a client contacts me tomorrow and says they no longer want to work with me, that's it, it's done. I suddenly have to replace thousands of dollars (in some cases). Finding new jobs is pretty easy this far into it, but finding high paying ones is more of a challenge. Lastly, I don't get holidays. Sure, I can take off for a week if I tell my clients (most are very flexible), but I won't get paid. I have been on vacations where I work everyday, I have worked on Christmas day, the day of my wedding etc.

    However, it is ultimately a wonderful job. So much so, I sometimes worry what I would do now if this fell apart. Rejoining the physical workforce would be hard for me now. Although, it is not an easy job and each day I am writing between 8,000 and 12,000 words. To do that you need to really know the subject and simply be fast. Basically a novel's worth of words a week. If you are passionate about fiction writing, this job will mostly take away your ability to continue writing fiction regulalry. After writing 10,000 words a day, I do not have the frame of mind or energy to tackle writing "my own" stuff.

    Well, that was an essay. I hope it helps some, but if there any questions let me know.

  • Semigoodlooking , I am in your same shoes. Once your freelance business takes off, you try and focus on getting better paying clients but with less effort. Intellectual work can wear you down. I haven't read a book in years and after I spend my day typing in front of a computer I just want to see a silly movie to relax.

    Writing my own stuff (corresponding with family members, writing on blogs or forums) is really minimal and not why I am not getting paid for it. I just want to leave the written words aside to rest!

  • Very informative, Semi. Thanks for taking the time to explain the multiple facets of what you do. You, Serafina and Splinter share different but intersecting careers. I admire you all for having the talent and discipline to do this demanding work while also serving as your own account directors and billing departments.

    Something in the back of my mind is asking if there is any significance to the fact that the three of you chose forum names beginning with the same letter, but I won't ask. Yet.

  • Very interesting Semi and thanks for the detailed summary.

    I also write and self published a non fiction travel book in 2007 and have recently finished a fiction novel which I've submitted to around 15 UK literary agents. One can but hope and so far my tally is 8 rejections. I intend to carry on submitting and will probably try some US agents next, with self publishing being the last resort.

    I also have numerous unfinished projects that I may get around to finishing, but for the time being I write for Dave's Computer Tips for which I actually get paid. Not much, but every little bit helps.

  • I don't write in a particular genre at the moment, but probably will find a niche eventually. The book I've just finished is a political thriller which started life as satire (my preferred genre actually) but ended up as a serious what-if scenario of the first British president of a South American republic - his rise and fall so to speak.

    The self published book was a naive indulgence of five tumultuous years in my life which I loosely term a travel book, but now cringe when I read it.X/

  • 123,000 words seems too high for publisher guidelines for what is usually accepted. I am not sure because it has been a long time since I checked and it depends genre. Perhaps part of the problem why it is getting rejected is length?