Monday, December 30, 2013

What Wouuld I Tell an Unpublished Author?

By Rebecca Lee Smith (Guest Blogger)

To never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.

I know it’s cliché. And I know hearing that (again) makes writers who are on the long, lonely road to publication, and want to place their book with a traditional publisher, feel like throwing something against the wall. Or at me.

But it’s true.

A Shadow on the Ground is the second book I’ve published, but the sixth book I’ve written. Book Number Five (the first book I sold) was rejected over forty times before someone wanted it. Book Number Four received ninety-six rejections in the span of one year. Some of these rejections were from publishers, but the majority were from agents who clearly thought the work I produced was unsalable. I had several requests for full manuscripts, synopses, partials, bios, and more chapters. If they asked to see it, I sent it out. Over and over again.

We’ve all read articles about surviving the query process, and taken to heart the platitudes that are supposed to keep us going. Throw the query net wide and deep. Be patient. Don’t get discouraged. Believe in yourself. Cream rises to the top. But what if it doesn’t? I asked myself. What if I’m sending out manuscripts five years from now, and the rejection numbers stay the same? What if cream doesn’t rise to the top? And then a voice deep inside my soul whispered, But what if it does?

The query process can be heartbreaking. Especially those close, close calls. I’ve been writing for over twenty years with lots of stops and starts when life got in the way. Throughout the process, I’ve experienced incredible highs and lows. I’ve won and placed in numerous contests. I’ve had goodhearted agents and publishers write gems of encouragement across the bottom of their rejection letters. But I’ve also had agents ask for the full manuscript, keep it for three months, then reject me with a form letter. Or, in one case, never respond at all. One publisher asked for revisions, then held on to the revised version for thirteen months and rejected me with a form letter. (Gotta love those form letters!) I’ve had an agent call me on the phone to tell me she loved my book and would really like to represent me (my heart stopped), if only she had room for another author in her stable. Well, the list goes on.

I remember reading an interview with a well-known multi-published author who was bemoaning the fact that she had sent her first manuscript to five different agents before she secured representation. Five agents. Wow, I thought. How in the world did she ever cope with that kind of rejection? Sarcasm aside, it all boils down to this: Everyone has their own path to follow. Some are rocky, some are smooth, and some wind their way through the forest and back out again. But if you give up and sit by the side of the road because it’s just too damned hard to keep going, you will never reach your goal.

There were times when I pulled back and regrouped. Times when I faced the cold, hard truth that the manuscript I had been rewriting for over a year would never work and find the courage to move on to something new. I’ve screamed and cried and threatened to toss my computer out the window. But I never gave up. I kept going and going and going, just like that old Energizer Bunny. And a few days ago, I stood and wept as I held a copy of my second book, A Shadow on the Ground, in my hands. It still feels that good.

So, whoever you are, and whatever you write, just keep flinging those finished manuscripts out into the world, and sooner or later, one will land on the desk of someone who “gets” you and loves your work. But until that happens, you have to keep trying. Because there’s no way you can win the lottery if you don’t get in the car, drive to the store, and buy the damned ticket. Or five.


So let me tell you a bit about A Shadow on the Ground. After you read my excerpt, use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter my blog tour giveaway. You might win a $50 gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble!


Morgan Maguire is afraid to believe in second chances. The family orchard is failing, her twin brother is being framed for murder, and the sharks are circling. The tough exterior she's spent years hiding behind is beginning to crumble, just as the man who shattered her heart is back in her life. Gage Kirkland is as compelling and magnetic as ever, and he's offering the kind of help she may not be able to refuse. But can she trust him?

To finance his troubled son's therapy, Gage, a former investigator, takes one last job--recovering a stolen Civil War artifact. Unfortunately, it's in the possession of the woman he left behind, the woman who's haunted his dreams ever since. The electricity between them still crackles, but unless he helps exonerate her brother and finds a way to confess his true reason for returning, how will he ever recover Morgan's heart?


Gage grinned, making Morgan’s heart beat in slow, rolling thuds. “I'm going to make some calls about finding Sean representation. If he goes up against a murder charge, he'll need the best lawyer we can find.”



He held her gaze while a current of electricity sliced a path through the center of her abdomen.

I didn't want to leave you alone last night,” he said.

I was fine.”

Well, I wasn't.”

Oh, come on. A big, tough, adrenaline junkie PI like you?”

Not so tough when the bullets are flying.”

Memories of the night before slammed into her brain—the sound of gunshots cracking the air, Gage pushing her off the flagstone walk, lying stone still beside him in the wet grass with a broken rhododendron stob biting into her neck. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel his breath crashing across her shoulder, the pulse at the base of his throat flicking against her cheek. How long had it been since she’d touched a man? Or been wrapped like his most cherished possession in the strong, shielding warmth of his arms? Had she ever felt so safe? Would she ever feel that safe again?

Maybe she should hold on to the memory. Bury it deep. Then, when she needed comfort, she could take it out and replay it over and over in her head to drive the unbearable loneliness away. Until something that felt like contentment trickled through her bloodstream, like a double shot of apple brandy on a cold, wintry night.

A shadow fell over the table.

She lifted her eyes and gasped softly. The last thing she expected to see were the pale, twisted, angry eyes of Lawrence Finch.

About Rebecca

Rebecca lives with her husband in the beautiful, misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She's been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home mom to a house painter to a professional actress and director. When she's not churning out sensual romantic mysteries with snappy dialogue and happy endings, she likes to travel, go to the Outer Banks for her ocean fix, watch old movies, hang out at the local pub, and make her day complete by correctly answering the Final Jeopardy! question.

Twitter - @rbeccaleesmith

Amazon Author Page –

Print –

Use the widget below to enter my drawing! And I hope you'll visit the other stops on my tour, too. You can find the schedule here:

The more often you enter, the higher your chances of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Rebecca,

Thanks for being my guest, and for sharing a bit about your own journey. It's tough to have faith in your talent in the face of rejection, but you're completely correct - if you give up, you'll never realize your dream of being published.

Good luck with your book and with the tour.

Meljprincess said...

Yes! Thank you, Rebecca. I used to work as a telemarketer so rejection doesn't bother me. My history with men also makes me immune. lol! My problem is I start something and never finish. I always want to move on to something else. Also I have a fear of writing. Advice? I don't Twitter so I know that cost me points on the RC. I think after the beginning of the year I'm going to give up (there's up) on contests. Rafflecopter leaves no room for creativity. I enjoy being creative. Enjoyed the excerpt for SHADOW! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

ilookfamous said...

I had no clue getting published was so difficult. Kudos to u for ur perseverance and success!

Unknown said...

I've heard many people quit just when they're about to make it. Thanks for the excerpt and words of encouragement. I needed them today! Good luck with A Shadow on the Ground and Happy New Year!

Debby said...

Great post. It must be very hard on your ego to be rejected so many times. Then you must remember that Harry Potter was rejected as well.

Michelle said...

Best of luck in the New Year. Thanks for the great post.

Unknown said...

I loved the excerpt, especially the chemistry between Morgan and Gage. Thank you for telling your story. I have not yet published a book but I plan to. It helps to know that someone can write such a good book and have been rejected before many times. Your stories are helping the rest of us newbies.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad it worked out for you--best of luck with the release!

Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

Rebecca Smith said...

Hey, Meljprincess. It's hard to finish a manuscript. I know this because I was always the writer who went back and worked on the beginning over and over again until I got it right. I'm just now discovering that it really is okay to write a terrible first draft, then see what you've got and go from there. Sometimes the best things come to me while I'm writing the last third of the book. Maybe my muse finally decides to stop napping, or maybe at that point I know the characters well enough to relax and let them do what they want. I had to make myself give up on contests, too. It was keeping me from moving forward with the manuscript (not to mention the expense). I keep a quote by Nora Roberts taped to my desk: "You can fix anything but a blank page." It always helps me to keep going. Good luck with your writing.

Rebecca Smith said...

Thanks, Elise-Maria.

Rebecca Smith said...

I've heard those stories, too. I heard a writer say once that after years of rejection, she finally gave up then got two offers the next day. So, you never know.

Rebecca Smith said...

Thanks, Val. Thick skin or not, I still hate rejection. Don't we all? I guess the trick is to not take it personally, and just keep plugging along. These days, there are a lot of avenues to get published. Which is a good thing.

helene said...

love the excerpt ,sounds like a winner to me :)

joye said...

I always like to have information about a book. This excerpt did it for me-now I have to read the rest of the story. I also like to read information about the person who wrote the story

Stormy Vixen said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing the great excerpt and the giveaway. Sounds like a great book. Happy New Year! evamillien at gmail dot com

Barbra said...

It's good to know how hard you have to work to be published. I'm sure the average person has no idea. I had read that it was hard, but 96 rejections?!?! You have to really want it. I guess that's survival of the fittest. :)

Rebecca Smith said...

Thanks, Joye. If you read it, I really hope you like it.

Rebecca Smith said...

I know. Or survival of the stubborn. After a while, the number of rejections got kind of comical, but then I heard that someone else had gotten over 120 before selling a manuscript.

H.B. said...

I like that you never ever gave up even though you saw/got so many rejection letters for your story. I have a friend who is an aspiring writer and when he sees reviews about his original fiction online he gets a bit discouraged at some of the things he reads. Your story is a wonderful example that if you keep on trying, it'll happen.

erin said...

Loved the excerpt! Thanks for sharing ;)

Meljprincess said...

Thank you, Rebecca. I really like the NR quote. I think contests keep one from moving forward with everything. I'll keep going with my writing. Good luck to you as well. Btw, my muse likes to visit when I'm in the shower. They really need to come up with something to write on and with when your soaking wet! And me, Mel :-)

Meljprincess said...

If this were a Facebook comment I'd 'like' it. :-)

Jana Leah B said...

Enjoyed your getting published story. Thanks for the giveaway.

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