Over about a month I read the book 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected: and How to be sure it won’t happen again by Mike Nappa. I read a few chapters here and there taking my time with it. I don’t think it’s necessary to memorize the various reasons but to take away from this book a lot of little tidbits about the book industry. After reading this book my knowledge of the publishing process is much better.
Mike Nappa has kind of a pessimistic tone, but sometimes a bitter food is easier to swallow if you’re told it’s bitter before hand. If you want the information sugar coated look to another writing book, but the fact is by percentages successfully getting published is a difficult thing to accomplish.
Early on the author states one reason for rejection is the writing is lousy. He makes a good point that everyone who attempts writing thinks they can get published. Nappa states that if someone in adult life picks up a sport in a short period they have no delusions of going pro. Writing is a craft that takes time to cultivate. However since anyone literate can write to some degree a lot of submissions agents and publishers get probably are below the standards. I still have some of my writing from college and my early twenties. If I finished that novel attempt in college, there is no way I could have gotten that published. But over a decade now of pursuing writing I have improved. I take this rejection reason as maybe I’ve put more time in than a lot of new writers, and that’s good.
Nappa’s book also opened up my eyes to how a writer needs to be ready when they submit to an agent or publisher. I imagined that if an agent or publisher accepted a manuscript they did the back work, and the writer simply gets a check. In reality it’s a process, and the more research the author does the better that author stands. A target audience is not a vague thing. The author needs to articulate who could potential buy the book to an exact number if possible. So for my novel draft I’d have to say there are two million adult skaters in the United States. Also fifty percent of adults in the United States watch or read porn (I made this up.) Therefore my target audience of skateboarders obsessed with porn may have a million potential readers in this country alone. My guess is I need to work on better logic for my potential target audience.
On a similar note, the author has to have a clue how to promote his or her own book. Things like what authors, magazines, or celebrities should advance copies be sent. What organizations or companies would market the book? What famous books are comparable? What sets this book apart from others in the genre? Basically I learned from this book 77 Reasons… that getting a book published is not solely from the merit of the work, but a business approach is necessary by the author.
Also, I’ve been on the fence about self-publishing as I read a few books recently I liked that went that route. This book strongly suggests not to self publish, and too much self-publishing can hurt future chances at publication. I’m going to do that with my current draft. I’ll get it ready to send out to agents after I make it my best. But after maybe twenty rejections I’ll put this novel in a drawer and move on. The best thing I learned from finishing my first draft is that I can write more, and this is not my only novel idea by any means.
Late in the book, the author breaks down some the cash advances for publishing. Apparently ten grand is a really good advance for a debut author. The advance is based on the projection that it sells at least a certain number of copies. If I was able to sell my book, and I got ten grand my life would not change much. The author, Nappa, goes even further that in most cases the advance is the only money the author receives unless it becomes successful, and the odds are it won’t be successful. Even though I want fame and fortune, I have to realize that’s not a true incentive to writing. More than likely I’ll need my day job as a librarian even if I’m lucky enough to get published.
In the afterward to 77 Reasons the author does say he was pessimistic with this book to be truthful, but for those writers with a drive will persevere regardless of all the doubters.