There are two things that are essential to achieve success as an author:
1) write a stonking good book
2) submit, submit and submit again. And again if necessary. And ...
The thing is, if number 1 is in place, you owe it to yourself not to give up too easily if the rejection letters flood in, no matter how much it hurts each time one thuds onto your doormat. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and pitch to the next person on your list. (After maybe eating several bars of chocolate and/or punching a pillow and/or downing a few gins.)
But how many rejections would it take before you gave up on a particular book?
10? 20? 50?
Until recently, I was telling authors whose books I was convinced were publishable not to give up until they had received 60 rejections.
But have you heard about Jason Wallace? He has just been named the winner of the Costa Children's Book Award for his book set in Zimbabwe, Out of Shadows.
The judges said:
'For us, this extraordinary debut novel was a unanimous winner. This compelling portrayal of a nation in crisis gripped us from start to finish and has stayed with us since ... A stunning debut novel without a false note. Accomplished and powerful, it changes the way you think.
But - and here's the rub -
- Jason was turned down by 100 (yes, you read that right, one zero zero) agents and publishers before being picked up by Andersen Press.
He is quoted in today's Independent as saying,
'I think I may have had a few low points when trying to get the book noticed, but in truth I don't think I would ever have given in.'
A few low points? A few low points??? How many people would hang on for that long, keeping the faith, rejection after rejection? Well, Jason did and just look at what happened to him ...
So what are you waiting for? Armour plate your heart and get that MS out there.
(NB: If the rejection slips do begin to pile up, you will probably need an objective assessment before you can be completely certain that the 'stonking' aspect is fully in place.)