Never Say Die

by Ali Ashley

 

The last word was typed. The manuscript slipped neatly into an envelope. Just a matter of time until the letter of acceptance arrived. I pictured my children's novel on the best seller list. A few weeks later, postie arrived. An envelope bulged from the mailbox. Heart pounding, I raced outside and shakily ripped it open.

"Dear author, thanks for giving us the opportunity to read your manuscript but it does not suit our list. We return it herewith."

What? Were they nuts! My kids loved my writing!

After countless rejections I began to wonder what I was doing wrong. I stumbled across an ad for a writing course. I enrolled.

It certainly was the eye opener I needed! I had such an encouraging tutor and the course was fun. I actually missed the assignments once I'd finished! Spurred on by my tutor's positive comments I continued to write and submit -only now I'd be a little more selective in my choice of publishers!

The rejections got better. Editors would comment on my work and make suggestions for improvements. Then bingo! A telephone call out of the blue. My first acceptance! I was blown away, particularly when the publisher asked me to supply my ABN. I'd never considered writing as a business until that moment. I certainly didn't have an ABN. I could have signed as a hobbyist but by now I was wondering if, maybe, I could turn my writing into a career. I applied to the tax office for an ABN and my 'business' was underway.

Determined to prove I was worthy of a business number, I contacted the publisher, but sadly, there were no further opportunities. She did, however, recommend an e-newsletter: Buzz Words.

Buzz Words turned out to be filled with industry news, lists publishers seeking submissions, competitions and much, much more. Then I discovered another newsletter, Pass It On, and subscribed to that too. Armed with a list of publishers seeking submissions, I could now tailor my writing. Knowing what they wanted - word counts, genre, age groups etc - cut out the guess work.

Markets I never knew existed began to accept my work! I wrote more and more. Research for magazine articles formed the basis of short stories and gave my writing credibility. But rejections still poured in. I was riding a rollercoaster of highs and lows. No one around me could understand how devastating it was to receive a 'no' on something I'd invested so much time and energy on.

I needed to be with like-minded people. I joined a writer's group. People there understood my experiences. We'd also critique each other's work, workshop ideas, etc. But one of the most important things was the new network of writers.We shared market opportunities and publishing contacts.

Having discovered the benefits of networking, I made the decision to invest some of my writing income in attending a conference. After all, every business requires investment. Plus it would be a great opportunity to meet fellow writers and put faces to publisher's names. The SCWBI Conference was advertised. Many in my network would be attending. I was so jealous! I concentrated on my articles and was lucky enough to receive several acceptances - enough, in fact, to fund my entire trip and attendance.

Persistence pays off! I've been writing for children for years but it's really only been in the past eighteen months that I've had any consistent success. I've now had numerous articles and two books published. I attribute much of that to the e-newsletters, networking and determination.

There were times I could have given up. I'm so glad I didn't. I still have a long way to go before I achieve my dream of penning that best seller, but I have learned so much since I first began. Will always be learning I think. I look back on my early writing and cringe. How could I have been so naïve! No wonder publishers rejected me!

copyright (c) Ali Ashley

 

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