Rejection is simply part of the field of writing. It is such a large part, in fact, that this entire article is devoted to the topic. Like actors and actresses, writers must learn how to "go with the flow," and not allow rejection to thwart their efforts. If you have a passion for travel writing and you really want to succeed at it, you must persevere. The competition, as said before, is fierce. You are not the only person out there who loves to write and loves to travel, so if you want to see your rejections turn into acceptance, keep working at perfecting your writing. With each rejection, work harder, learn more, and submit again. If you feel you need to, take a class, hire a good editor, attend a seminar, and read books on writing. Although rejection is the hardest part of becoming a writer, try to keep in mind that it is a right of passage and that only those who are making an effort to get published get rejected. This article will explain some methods of dealing with rejection gracefully.
Seven Methods for Rejecting Rejection:
1. Read Carolyn See's book Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers. This book provides solid, practical methods of handling rejection, not only gracefully, but in a manner that might just get you an assignment from your rejecter later on down the road. See suggests that you send a thank you note to your rejecter, rather than brood over his or her scorn. It is an instant "feel better" solution that you will make good use of until you start hitting your publishing groove.
2. Take Stephen King's method to heart and skewer your rejections on a nail in your office. In his book, On Writing, he tells his Constant Readers that in his early writing days, he was fond of adding his rejection letters to a nail that was hammered into a wall near his work space. While some may find this behavior discouraging, Mr. King felt that seeing those rejection slips propelled him to success. You to may find that this method will also help you by becoming a challenge rather than a deterrent. (As a side note, record-breaking, eight-time 2008 Olympic gold metal winner Michael Phelps hung a negative article written about him in his locker. He used it to psyche himself up during training for the 2008 Games. It obviously worked for him; it can work for you too.)
3. See your rejections as flammable badges of honor (see number 4). Every seasoned, published writer has received at least one rejection letter in their career. That's a fact of writing life. Knowing that your favorite writers of all time have all have been rejected by an agent, publisher, or an editor not just once but, quite possibly, many times, is somehow comforting and encouraging. In fact, some of the bestselling and most loved books and articles were rejected three to seven times, on average, before being accepted for publication. According to HowStuffWorks.com, here are some inspiring rejection facts for you to ponder the next time you get one of those dreaded slips in the mail: James Joyce's Dubliners was rejected 22 times before being published. The big money-making, still-cranking-them-out, inspirational series, "Chicken Soup for the Soul," by Jack Canfield was rejected 144 times before being accepted, (144 times); The book that was the catalyst for one of the world's most-loved TV series, M*A*S*H, by Richard Hooker was rejected by 21 publishers; Carrie, by Stephen King was refused by 30 publishers; and Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gone With the Wind -- rejected 38 times! Even Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, by J.K. Rowling was rejected nine times before being purchased, with low expectations, by Bloomsbury. So, when things seem grim, the slips are piling up, and you're dodging rejections, remember: You're in very good company.
4. Be proud that you were brave enough to submit at all and therefore, be rejected. Invite of few friends over and have a rejection burning ceremony. Serve snacks and libations if you like. Place your rejection slip in your sink and light it aflame while you sing, "You've got the music in you," by the New Radicals. The lesson: Sometimes a sense of humor is your best coping mechanism.
5. Comfort yourself by saying indignantly, "The only reason those other writers are getting published is because they know someone. Damn nepotism!" Then read Carolyn See's book to find out how to get some nepotistic treatment thrown your way.
6. Every time you get a rejection letter or post card, make it into a paper airplane and fly it out of the highest window of your home or office.
7. Keep your head down and Just Keep Writing.
Resources for Rebounding from Rejection
On Writing, by Stephen King
Making a Literary Life, by Carolyn See
This Book is Unpublishable! Rejected Writers -- Alcott to Zane Grey, by Elaine Borish
How Stuff Works, 14 Best-Selling Books Repeatedly Rejected by Publishers.
Creating Article and Book Proposals
Most travel articles sold by experienced writers are not written prior to their sale; rather, they are proposed to publications and then written. Once you have a good portfolio together and have some pieces published, you can fish for assignments by sending out proposals. In this way you can often get part, or all, of your trip paid for up-front or reimbursed.
Creating a good article proposal is as important as creating a good query letter. While initially you will be submitting completed articles, later, when you have a few clips under your belt, you will want to start submitting ideas for articles. For instance, imagine this scenario: You have plans to travel to Dharamsala, India and you have an idea for a travel article that includes experiencing, hands-on Buddhist traditions. You want to participate in, report on, and offer pictures of, such things as creating a sand Mandala, joining a prayer or meditation session and attending a Dharma talk. So, where do you begin when trying to sell this article idea? You can't simply say, I want to write an article about traveling to Dharamsala, unless you are a famous, highly-published travel writer, so, you have to convince the magazine to pay you for your article, and, possibly, part of your trip.
Your first step is to write an outline of the article. You will also want to include the four points of any good travel article, "Why, What, Where and When," in your outline:
- Why. This explains the purpose the article serves and why it is being written.
- What. What is the article about. What are its main topics of interest.
- Where. The location or locations, specifically, you will be covering in the article.
- When. When the article will be completed and delivered to the publication.
Freelance writer Fiona Veitch Smith offers an excellent example of creating an article proposal.
A good travel writing proposal will include the following:
Q An enticing working title
Q An introductory paragraph
Q The key points of your article in a bulleted list
Q A clear conclusion
Q Ideas for sidebars
Q Photographs that would be included with the piece
Q The projected word count
Q Your contact information (phone, cell, email, address)
Remember, a query letter will either be sent out first or will serve as a "cover" to your proposal. The query should include a summary of the article and why it would be a good fit for the particular magazine you are submitting to. It is important to remember what you learned previously about query letters and incorporate that information when including a query with your proposals. For instance, you want to research the magazine you are submitting to so that you can be sure that your idea is a good fit for them. You want to make sure to address the correct editor by last name, to read their submission guidelines, and follow them precisely. Jeff Herman's Guide to Literary Agents, has listings for magazine publishers and provides you with information on how to access their submission guidelines. If a magazine allows email submission, be sure to follow their criteria. Some insist that all text be copied and pasted into the body of the email, rather than sent as an attachment. Sending email submissions is a great option. This method can save you considerable time and money and is also a "greener" earth-friendly way to submit your work and ideas.
Although it may be a while before you're ready to write a book on travel, it is a good idea to have the information to consider such an endeavor. Article and book proposals are different in many aspects. Book proposals are much longer and require one or more fully written sample chapters. After you have written and published a handful of articles, you may want to consider specializing in a particular area of the travel industry. This will better position you to write a book on the subject of your expertise. A good idea is to start a blog on your narrowed-down specialty as this helps hone your skills in the area and also puts you in touch with others who have information or an interest in your area of focus.
If you want to write a non-fiction book, you need to write a great proposal. As with the query and article proposal, a book proposal is the calling card you send forth to convince a publisher to pay you to write a book. First and foremost, you must establish a platform for writing any book. A platform is the elevation of expertise that you can demonstrate on the topic you desire to write about. According to literary agent Jeff Herman, interest in the topic is not enough, you must show published articles, activities, travel or anything else that makes you especially qualified to write the particular book you desire to write. This is where that focus on a specific area we talked about in the previous paragraph comes in. If you have been working smartly, you will have created a platform as you expanded your career by focusing on one area of expertise. You will have clips, a blog, perhaps interviews, comments, and media connections showing your "platform" for being the person to write the book you propose.
Although book proposals are out of the scope of this section,the information you will need when you are ready for this step is given below. Once you have established platform and have published a good number of articles (between 30 and 50, at least) you should then study the books mentioned in the resources section to learn the ins and outs of creating a great book proposal. But remember, if book writing is your goal, start specializing from the start of your travel writing career. Most importantly, choose a travel subject that you are very passionate about and that you would love to share with others. If there is no passion for your subject, your readers will feel this lack and move on to another writer.
Book Proposal Resources
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, by Deborah Levine Herman and Jeff Herman.
Non-fiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book, by Elizabeth Lyon, foreword by Natasha Kern.
Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Non-fiction and Get it Published, by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato.
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