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Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

The Worst Thing They Can Do Is Say No

The Worst They Can Do Is Say No

At some point or other, we all suffer from the bane of a writer’s existence: nerves.

We question whether or not we’re good enough, whether or not our writing is good enough, and whether or not we’ll ever make it to publication. While I haven’t yet started querrying agents or publishers, I’ve submitted my work to various different places, from contests to critique groups, and found that nerves tend to act up whenever we need them to be silent. “They shan’t like it…” Our nerves whisper to us; sometimes they even go as far as to say, “They’ll hate it… Don’t even submit it… It’s terrible…” 

Perhaps it is terrible; I don’t know. Some of my pieces have certainly been cringe-worthy over the past several years, but that’s not the point of this article.

At one time in the life of a dedicated writer,  he or she reaches the point where they’re ready for publication. Whether this writer decides to find an agent and then a publisher, or decides to find a publisher that doesn’t require an agent, the writer at one point must decide that he or she is either going to let their skill, the skill they’ve worked so hard on, go to waste; or he or she must decide to start pursuing publication.

If they decide they want to go with the second option, that’s when they start to get nervous.

Yet, hopefully, this writer will continue on, for they know the reason behind the work that they’re doing. They want to be published. They want to have their work released to the public, and they’re willing to work toward that goal. Right now, their work is unpublished, but they hope and dream that someday, it will be published.

But… They’re nervous. To the point where their hands shake and they re-read the email they’re going to send to the potential agent or publisher eighty times, at least. At last, though, they send the email.

And when the writer receives the reply, it is with regrets that the recipient of their email cannot, at this moment, publish their work.

Undaunted—well, maybe a little bit daunted, but not too much—they do it again.

And the reply is the same.

By this point, the writer is starting to be discouraged. And as he or she receives more rejections, the nerves turn into doubts: “Why bother sending it? They won’t want to publish me.” 

Dear discouraged author, do not allow yourself to be weighted down with past rejections. The very reason you’re querying these people is because you want to be published. You are unpublished now; these people, these agents and publishers, can do two things. They can publish you, or you can remain unpublished.

They can’t take anything away from you. If they send you a rejection, you are no less published than you were before;  in fact, you now have one less agent or publisher to worry about querying, so you have gained something.

The worst thing that they can do is say no. 

They cannot take away anything. You have lost nothing, and they cannot do anything worse than not give you something. You are no worse off than you were before, so when rejections come, you can dust off your hands and start again. You have nothing to lose. You do have something to gain.

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5 thoughts on “The Worst Thing They Can Do Is Say No

  1. huh. That is true. 😄 I’ve never suffered from nerves for my writing before, but I guess that’s ’cause I’ve never sent any of my writing to a publisher. =P Does this mean that you’re getting ready for publication? ;D Either way, it’s a great analytical post and really just reasons away the nerves. I mean, like you said, you don’t lose anything when they reject it. Just like Edison and the repeated experiments that he did to get the lightbulb working correctly. One mistake simply means another possibility eliminated. 😀

    ~Michael Hollingworth
    Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

    • Don’t worry. It’ll happen sometime. :p Ah, not quite. I have a whole novel to edit at least twice over before I start actually querying.

      This is slightly random, but I must ask… How did your signature come about?

      • Alright then, I’ll watch out for it. Good luck on editing. I hate that stuff. 😄

        The signature? Well, I noticed other people had one, so I decided to dig up an old signature I used to put at the end of my emails and use it. =P

        ~Michael Hollingworth
        Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

  2. Not to be argumentive, but no: The worst they can do is say yes, and then completely forget that they said that.
    Example #1: Jane Austen. A publisher bought the manuscript for “Northanger Abbey” (then under the title “Catherine”), and Jane was overjoyed. Two years later–they still hadn’t published it, and she resorted to buying the rights to her novel back from them.

    Example #2: Me. In May I sold this little satire-y thing to a literary journal, and when they accepted it I was told that it would be published in August. Well, what do you know, it’s October and my story was never published. They haven’t responed to my e-mail. Of course, they are under no obligations to actually publish something once they buy it. But still, it hurts.

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