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Thread: I'm a midlist author feeling a bit rejected and dejected

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm a midlist author feeling a bit rejected and dejected

    I don't really know where to start.

    I feel like I should be grateful because at least I was published via a big trade publisher like I always wanted. But I'm just feeling so dejected right now.

    I spent years wanting to be a writer and trying to get an agent, trying to get an editor and finally I'm published. I've got a whole series out that's pretty much done now. The books find their way into bookshelves at bookstores and I know not everyone has that.

    But at the same time I also know the books aren't really selling. Barely anyone knows they exist. All the money that was spent into marketing dried up as soon as the first book released. And I've been trying hard to promote myself but nobody seems to care. Barely anyone is reviewing the books on goodreads or amazon. It's just like the books are a complete non-factor.

    It's not that they're not good, I've gotten great reviews. I'm just being passed over. It just makes me wonder when I see the books of authors that got a massive push and a huge fandom and are going on tours and signing movie deals - is my work really that much worse than theirs? I really don't think it is, so why the difference?

    What hurts the most is that some big name author with a huge fan base and lots of connections in the industry recently got a deal for a book series that's basically the same as mine in pitch and I know it's going to do far better simply because he's built up his name over the years.

    I guess I just feel like it never ends. You get dejected because of so many things along the way as a writer. I guess I shouldn't look at other people's success and feel down on myself but I can't help but wonder why I'm stuck in this rut.

  2. #2
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm always looking for new books. What's the title? What genre?

    Most authors don't go big. I see a lot of books in my library that I've never heard of before. That doesn't mean you're a bad writer. But seriously, I'm out of new material. What's it called?

  3. #3
    figuring it all out BLMN's Avatar
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    Me too. Fire away. I've read everything I own and can't get to the library.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    Definitely, tell us about your books.

    You've accomplished a lot. I get down over a junky query letter and not being able to sell anything. I might feel differently in your shoes, but when I get down, I think that in the end I am writing the stories I want to write. I have to write. Ten years ago I sold my first book, had a contract and I'm on my way. So I thought. The publisher sat on the book, avoided communication and drew out the inevitable for four years. The process was debilitating for me from an artistic standpoint. I was writing, but I couldn't finish anything. I couldn't make anything work. I thought I'd never finish a book again. Cut to three years ago, and finally I did. I've written three books in the last three years. Working on a fourth. Just now wading out into the waters of trying to find an agent. I'm finishing these books the best I can, and that's a success. It may be the only success I ever have.

    But please, tell us more!
    Last edited by sideshowdarb; 11-25-2017 at 09:53 AM.
    Twitter @DarbyHarn

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  5. #5
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Tell us about your books. I'm always looking for new authors to read.

    FWIW, some of my favorite authors are mid listers. Popularity doesn't always correlate with quality.

    I remember reading about a Princeton study that suggested that, once a basic level of quality is achieved, the relative popularity of a work can be down to random factors.

    I have also heard an editor for a large publisher (she was speaking at a writers' conference) say that they really can't predict which of the books they acquire each year will become bestsellers and which will become more middling in popularity and which will fall through the cracks. In her opinion, it isn't about the quality of the work.

    One thing that is true is that buzz generates more buzz, and once something achieves a certain level of success, it will likely "seed" more success for itself.

    I can only imagine how frustrating this is, since I haven't been able to sell anything yet. It almost certainly isn't the case that your novels are lacking in some way.
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  6. #6
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    I feel like I should be grateful
    Nope. Life is ongoing, so are problems. Everything good comes with more difficulty. You want a car; now you have road tax. You want a promotion; now you have more stress. You want kids; they drive you nuts. And so on. It's normal, and you don't need to feel like you can't complain; of course you can.
    Happiness, is just a word to me
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    If I'd known the difference.

  7. #7
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    My situation is not dissimilar (although my genre is different). DM me if you like.
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

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  8. #8
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    I know where you're coming from, believe me. (Feel free to DM me, too.) And I would love to have an entire series out!

    But that's the thing: As soon as we hit one milestone, we start to devalue it because we haven't reached the next one. I've seen so many authors speak on social media about the depression/anxiety they feel after a book release, or re: their careers in general. And many of these authors seem way more objectively successful than I am.

    I often wonder what it would take to make me feel consistently happy about my writing career. If I got a positive response from a reader every week? Every day? If I hit a best-seller list? If I had a movie deal? If I had X number of Amazon reviews? Part of me wants to think some combination of these things would make me happy, but part of me thinks the goal-posts would just keep moving.

    I am starting to think the whole query/publication process is a bit like slow gambling — that is to say, once you obtain any level of success in this difficult, lengthy (for most) endeavor, your brain can get addicted to it. The more success you get, the more hooked you are, and the more each failure hurts.

    Which doesn't mean it's bad to fulfill your lifelong dream, at all, just that you need to be able to take a healthy distance from both success and failure and put them in context. When you see a positive review or a good-news email and get an endorphin rush, realize there will also be lows in your future, and you can save up this praise for those hard times.

    I am still at work on taking my own advice and not very good at it, but for a writer, I think, it comes down to what sideshowdarb said. Write the stories you want to write. If you are doing that, you always have something to come back to once the highs fade away and the lows set in.
    YA thriller The K1ller in M3, out now from D1sn3y-Hyper1on

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  9. #9
    Get it off! It burns! Dennis E. Taylor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchsia Groan View Post
    I often wonder what it would take to make me feel consistently happy about my writing career. If I got a positive response from a reader every week? Every day? If I hit a best-seller list? If I had a movie deal? If I had X number of Amazon reviews? Part of me wants to think some combination of these things would make me happy, but part of me thinks the goal-posts would just keep moving.
    Depends on your goals. You could start by more specifically defining what you would consider 'success'. Otherwise by default you have an 'I want it all' goal, with a moving goalpost that you never reach. If you define a goal, you can say "I did that" and then define a new goal. From a practical point of view, it doesn't make any difference, but emotionally it's much more satisfying.

    Also, to the OP: I keep saying this (as do other people), and pretty sure I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but writing is a long game. And if/when you do publish something that catches on, readers will start looking for your earlier work.
    Formerly Angry Guy.

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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Whenever I feel inadequate (regardless of what I'm inadequate at/for) I look the other way down the continuum: Someone writes more poorly, someone makes less money, someone is not as intelligent, someone hasn't had as exciting a life as I have...

    And for things like being old and forever single, I look at the tradeoffs and I'm fine with that.

    If you are always looking at the guy with the better house and the writer with the best selling novels you almost certainly will be depressing yourself to some degree.

    As for my writing, I've said it before on this forum, my goal is to be a better writer than yesterday. But as a not-yet-published author (except a couple short stories that are published) I judge my work on what I, my critique group and my beta reader think of it. I hope I never judge my work by sales. I've seen too many awful books that are not only published but even sell well. That helps me put sales into perspective.

    Not saying being published and with good sales wouldn't make me ecstatic. Of course it would! I'm just saying one can insulate oneself from disappointment by choosing what to measure one's success by.
    Last edited by MaeZe; 11-25-2017 at 11:01 PM.

  11. #11
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Your feelings are perfectly understandable, AndreaX. Thing is, even when trade published, you can't be entirely passive about promoting your work. Now, while you can't promote on AbsoluteWrite until you meet the 50 substantive post threshold, there are things you can do:

    • You may place links to your book(s) on Amazon or other purchase outlets in your signature.
    • You can look for helpful hints in AW's Book Promotion Ideas and Advice room—there's good info all throughout the Publishing category.
    • You can seek advice from your agent.


    Those suggestions aren't all you can do, but they're good places to start.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 11-25-2017 at 11:40 PM. Reason: Added link
    Resources for Promoting on AbsoluteWrite:

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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ari Meermans View Post
    Your feelings are perfectly understandable, AndreaX. ...
    That too. ^ Didn't mean to leave that out of my post.

  13. #13
    figuring it all out
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    It seems like with the exception of a few world-famous authors that can write whatever they want, sit back and have people gobble it up, that for everyone else writing is a constant, ongoing slog of hard work? (Albeit a rewarding one for many!)

  14. #14
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbhike View Post
    It seems like with the exception of a few world-famous authors that can write whatever they want, sit back and have people gobble it up, that for everyone else writing is a constant, ongoing slog of hard work? (Albeit a rewarding one for many!)
    I suspect it's also incredibly hard work for the famous ones, because they have to do tons of touring and handle all the requests and responsibilities that comes with being famous (with the help of PAs, of course).

    But, when it comes to the hard work thing, I'm definitely not asking for sympathy. There's a world of difference between hard work you love and hard work that means nothing to you. The work of writing is always rewarding, because you have a finished product. The work of promo is less so, because you so seldom see concrete results. But you just keep on doing it in case someday it pays off.
    YA thriller The K1ller in M3, out now from D1sn3y-Hyper1on

    "Taut storytelling and believable characters make this a standout mystery" ó Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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  15. #15
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchsia Groan View Post
    But you just keep on doing it in case someday it pays off.
    There needs to be another reason, because it doesn't always pay off.
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

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  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Serostasis's Avatar
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    Well, I think this is a great conversation and I'm glad you've started it.

    While it may sound trite, I think that in the end all you can do is follow your passions. Do you have any separate hobbies that you enjoy, and could possibly profit from someday? Are there any part-time jobs that you might enjoy while you're writing?

    For all of us, we need to find some greater meaning in our lives and our work that is beyond just, "the payoff." Because the hard reality is that there are many, many amazing writers out there that never received in their lifetimes the recognition they deserved. Respecting that reality, I think that all we can do is continue to follow our passions, wherever they might lead us.

    It's wonderful you've been published and you should be very proud. I'm sure you are. Keep going!
    Last edited by Serostasis; 11-27-2017 at 07:31 AM. Reason: quoted wrong poster
    My novella "Beneath the Shadow of the Mountain": https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Shado...f+the+mountain

  17. #17
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bubblefish View Post
    I'm always looking for new books. What's the title? What genre?
    Me three, or four or whatever it is as this point
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  18. #18
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serostasis View Post
    Well, I think this is a great conversation and I'm glad you've started it.

    While it may sound trite, I think that in the end all you can do is follow your passions. Do you have any separate hobbies that you enjoy, and could possibly profit from someday? Are there any part-time jobs that you might enjoy while you're writing?

    For all of us, we need to find some greater meaning in our lives and our work that is beyond just, "the payoff." Because the hard reality is that there are many, many amazing writers out there that never received in their lifetimes the recognition they deserved. Respecting that reality, I think that all we can do is continue to follow our passions, wherever they might lead us.

    It's wonderful you've been published and you should be very proud. I'm sure you are. Keep going!
    This is a nice post, but I'm not the OP. And I've no interest in hijacking this thread with my own story, which probably has very little bearing on what the OP is going through.
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

    Goodreads giveaway for THE COLD BETWEEN - US, UK, Canada, Australia - December 11, 2017 - December 19, 2017

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  19. #19
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    Oh, I definitely donít do writing for financial payoffs ó thatís why I have a day job. I just meant that about the promotional parts, which I do because I hope they will get the ball rolling and some word of mouth started. Which they usually donít, but hey, we do what we can. (And AW is the friendliest place I know to promote, though I feel awkward about it.)

    I would write no matter what, but promo, which I am terrible at, is not a labor of love for me.
    Last edited by Fuchsia Groan; 11-27-2017 at 07:29 AM.

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Serostasis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    This is a nice post, but I'm not the OP. And I've no interest in hijacking this thread with my own story, which probably has very little bearing on what the OP is going through.
    Oh I was actually referring AndreaX's original post, I should not have quoted you. Sorry 'bout that!
    My novella "Beneath the Shadow of the Mountain": https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Shado...f+the+mountain

  21. #21
    Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae The Otter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreaX View Post
    It just makes me wonder when I see the books of authors that got a massive push and a huge fandom and are going on tours and signing movie deals - is my work really that much worse than theirs? I really don't think it is, so why the difference?
    Sometimes a book just comes out at the exact right moment when it strikes something within the cultural zeitgeist and the public is ready to embrace it. If THE HUNGER GAMES had come out five years earlier or five years later, would it have been nearly as popular? Who knows. But I do know that I've read plenty of books I'd consider to be just as good as THE HUNGER GAMES, even if they're not nearly as successful or famous. Quality is far from the only contributing factor to a book's success, and "quality" is a subjective measure anyway.

    But if I understand the concept of the long tail, success doesn't always come right away. Sometimes a book or a series can slowly develop a cult following over a course of years, so there's always a possibility that you'll gain more fans as time goes on. Or if you write another book that ends up more successful, it may boost the sales of your earlier books.

    Also, even if your existing books aren't huge hits, it means that it'll be much easier to get future books published, because you're no longer just another name in the slush pile, you have solid professional credits. You've got your foot in the door now. That first big hurdle has been cleared, and that's huge.

    It may be discouraging to finally make it only to realize that "making it" isn't everything you'd dreamed, and I've definitely had that feeling myself. But it is still an accomplishment worth being proud of.
    Last edited by The Otter; 11-27-2017 at 08:03 AM.
    Available in February 2018, my YA novel: WHEN MY HEART JOINS THE THOUSAND

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Laurel's Avatar
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    You can be grateful and disappointed at the same time. You can be both proud and angry, happy for other authors while simultaneously envious of their success.

    You're responsible for the quality of your work, and it sounds like you did a great job there. How people respond to the work is out of your control. Keep doing what you can. Promote this series. Get started on your next project. You might be a midlist author now, but you never know whether your next book will be a huge success. Even if you never become a best-selling author, you've accomplished a lot.
    Last edited by Laurel; 11-28-2017 at 02:47 AM.
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW polishmuse's Avatar
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    I'm not published yet, but I love this post by VE Schwab about the myth of the "overnight success" https://veschwab.wordpress.com/2016/...night-success/
    literally a person. also, a literal person. and a literary person. and a contrary person.

  24. #24
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polishmuse View Post
    I'm not published yet, but I love this post by VE Schwab about the myth of the "overnight success" https://veschwab.wordpress.com/2016/...night-success/
    I love that post, too. It's helpful to be reminded that what may look like overnight success is often the result of years of work in the trenches. And when you look at the blogs of writers who got six-figure deals for their debuts, it's not uncommon to see that they, too, took long, arduous paths involving multiple manuscripts and unsold submissions. Sure, there are Wunderkinds who obtain instant success, but that path seems less common (and often overblown by media coverage).

    Some of my favorite authors were never best-sellers. Personally, I'd be happy with a small, devoted following instead of mass appeal, which is still an immodestly ambitious goal for anyone, as I'm well aware.
    YA thriller The K1ller in M3, out now from D1sn3y-Hyper1on

    "Taut storytelling and believable characters make this a standout mystery" ó Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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  25. #25
    The snozberrys taste lke snozberrys spikeman4444's Avatar
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    I think in many ways it is probably more frustrating to have reached the goals you set, publication and to see your book available and to not see the sales you were hoping for, than when you are still in the hunt for an agent or a book deal. When you are still trying to reach that milestone, it feels like anything is possible and if you just keep trying, eventually you will make it. But once you've made it to the point everyone is trying to reach, I can see it being very difficult to stay confident and committed to the dream once you see that it's not paying dividends the way you imagined.

    I think I may even be more discouraged if I was published and not selling as opposed to not published at all. But I think the way you tackle the disappointment is by understanding that life is life. Obviously people get rich and famous and achieve success through various channels and these are often a combination of factors that no one can predict. One book is not better than another just because it is a best seller. So, knowing you live on planet earth, you can understand that life is not fair, and your neighbor may have a better looking wife than you, and a nicer car, and the guy down the street may have had his house struck by lightning when yours wasn't during a severe storm. It really is out of your hands sometimes, and embracing that will help you live a happier life.
    Ah, you think darkness is your ally...but you merely adopted the dark.

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