Monday, March 21, 2011

"Which seat can I take?"

If you’re at all in tune with the Internet, you’ve probably at least been asked to watch Rebecca Black's “Friday” video. For those of you who haven’t heard, “Friday” has been deemed by online critics as the worst song in the history of music—and the music video makes the popular Robin Sparkles video of “How I Met Your Mother” fame seem nearly Shakespearean. And yet, for all its bad press, thirteen year old Rebecca Black has received praise from such popular naysayers as Simon Cowell and there are talks of a record deal.

Imagine now that you are a struggling musician living from gig to gig while having to support yourself with a day job that takes hours away from the creative process. You could be the next John Lennon, but no one would know it, because so much of what is sensationalized these days has little to do with talent, rather exposure. Because Rebecca Black’s mother shelved out two grand so her daughter could make a music video, the feed went live and—love it or loathe it—it generated a response. I wouldn’t be surprised if the girl signs a record deal that goes platinum. As Taylor Swift has effortlessly proven, talent has little to do with success.

It’s easy to become disheartened with your own writing when you see the literary equivalent of Rebecca Black selling like proverbial hotcakes at various presses. Rejection is one thing, but knowing you’re better than what is being accepted can be damn near crushing. The sad reality is publishing is a business like any other. In the case of erotic romance, some pubs might focus more on the erotic aspects of a manuscript rather than the romance, and being they see the sales numbers on the other side, sign on authors because they know what sells. It’s frustrating as an author, especially if you’re serious about what you do. Yet publishers have to keep their best interest in mind as well; if you don’t sell your manuscript to one, ask yourself why. If your rejection letter comes with more than just a form thank-you-for-your-interest-but-sorry note, take what the editor says to heart. You may not have enough heat to make it into some places, whereas your book could find the perfect home elsewhere.

Dealing with rejection in the light of the plethora of bad out there is difficult, and one of those times you have to ask yourself what you’re doing this for, how badly you want it, and how many times you’re willing to hear “no” before someone says “yes.”


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