Your Manuscript Has Been Rejected. Now What?

You’ve spent 100 million hours writing, rewriting and editing and proofreading your novel and then BOOM! every agent and publisher you sent it to rejects it. Now what?

That question could be a hard one. Some writers would just move on to the next project. Before doing that, I ask, what did the rejection letters say? Were they automated, prewritten generic responses like, “At this time, this novel isn’t for me” or were they personalized rejection letters that cited specific reasons for rejecting your manuscript? Maybe the agent or publisher said your sentences were too choppy or it was hard to connect with your protagonist for whatever reasons or your exposition revealed too much. If any of these specific complaints or any others were cited, there’s still hope.

Earlier last year, my novel Operation Soul Cast was turned down an agent who gave me a personalized rejection letter. The agent told me to cut some of my exposition. I followed the agent’s advice and sent the story out again, and it was immediately picked up by Solstice Publishing. Rejection letters can hurt, but if you get a personalized one, follow the advice or consider the critiques. Whatever issues the agent named, even if you don’t believe they are issues, consider revising. Agents are agents for a reason. They are gatekeepers to the publishing industry and more likely than not, if they complain about something in your manuscript, so will the next agent.

Personalized rejections are gold. Sometimes, they’re only a sentence or two, but within those sentences are keys to getting your manuscript accepted for publication. Give your work a chance. Just because it gets shot down doesn’t mean there’s no hope. It simply means you must work harder on fixing your manuscript. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was the publishing industry and neither should your manuscript be. Invest time and effort in your manuscript, and I guarantee it will be published.

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How to Get a Book Deal

Every writer wants to know how to get a book deal, so she can officially be an author. Every writer wants to be the next great American author and sell more book than James Patterson. So, we ask, how do I get a book deal?

Recently, my novella Operation Soul Cast was picked up by a small publisher called Solstice. Believe it or not, getting a book deal is not as glamorous as one may believe. It’s actually a lot of work. 

To this question of getting a book deal, it is not impossible, but it is a science. You not only have to write a grammatically correct book, you have to write one strong in plot and rich with interesting characters. There is no secret formula to getting published. You just have to put your best pen forward. 

Until next time, keep writing. 

#authoruproar #imquerying 

Our Own Sort of Fun

Drugs. Violence. Police brutality. Hate. Love. Love. Love. 

In 1995, if you would have read about the Robert Taylor projects, the news report would probably have headlined something like this: 

“17 Men Arrested in Drug Sting at Robert Taylor Homes.” 

But inside those forsaken buildings where no one but those who lived there would have gone, children lived there. And those children, like all children, found a way to make the best of their situation. We did so in part by playing “It” in abandoned apartment buildings with holes in the walls.

Looking back on those days so many years later, I know my mother would have had a fit had she known what I was doing. As a father of three, I know I would not ever knowingly allow my daughters to play in abandoned buildings. Yet I also know that those dangerous moments where we had fun chipped away some of our surrounding circumstances and gave us a hideaway. 

Maybe my children will not ever experience what it is like to grow up impoverished in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, but they will hear many a stories from me about those moments. 

Manuscript Anxiety

I once read somewhere the hardest part of writing comes after the manuscript is complete. Later, I read that all first drafts were trash. I thought the people who wrote those things were idiots. How wrong I was.

Some people have problems putting words on the page. This is why most manuscripts are never finished. I don’t have this problem. However, the closer I come to finishing a manuscript, the more anxious I become.

When you write 90,000 words, you think, “Geesh. I just wrote 90,000 words.” There is a certain level of pride that comes along with that. Then, you think in utter horror, “Damn it. I just wrote 90,000 words.” That means you will have to revise, edit, proofread and polish a 90,000-word manuscript. Needless to say, that is quite the endeavor.

I have an awesome Science Fiction novel I am this – close to completing. But I don’t have $3,000 to pay a professional line editor or any editor to work magic on it. In my manuscript’s current form, I’d be laughed out of every publishing house on this side of the universe before it ever sees print. This is why editing and revising are so vital.

I have been writing Carbon Copies since September of last year. When I put the final words on the page this week, the real work will begin. I will have to read for consistency and make notes along the way. Then, I will have to go back and make the necessary changes which include rewording, rewriting, organizing, deleting and fleshing out characters and scenes. Then, I will have to proofread for grammatical errors front to back at least twice. All that should take at least three months.

Writing is a full-time job. If you want to be a writer, you don’t necessarily have to LOVE the process. You have to at least LIKE it though or have an appreciation for it like red lights. We’re not fans of them, but we do appreciate the fact they prevent others from slamming into us. A manuscript in its first draft is like the bones of the house with a foundation to build upon. The revising, editing and proofreading are what make the house a home. They are the paint, the cabinets, the windows and everything in between.

I write this to give insight on what it’s like to write and be serious about it. Take what matters to you and leave behind what doesn’t.

Inspiration Comes from Everywhere

As you’ll find if you read my blog thoroughly enough, I grew up in the Robert Taylor Projects on the Southside of Chicago. If you do any research, you’ll find it was not the ideal place to grow up, being overwhelmed with drugs and gang activity. But it is where I am from, and I am not ashamed of it.

My uncle Milton lived there as well but for over thirty years. When I was younger, he made a painting on my mom’s wall of the cartoon Tom cutting off Jerry’s head. Blood was everywhere in the painting. My mom was pissed to say the least. I was delighted, until she made him paint over it.

Milton is a very sarcastic person who you’ll either love or hate with hate seeming to be the winner in most cases. Yet he is comfortable with whom he is. On Monday, June 4, 2018, the Chicago Sun Times did a spread on him concerning his upbringing, painting and one of his pieces currently on display at an art gallery. This inspires me.

My family is condensed with people in the arts. I’m a writer, my uncle is an artist and some of my family makes music. Most of us came from those dilapidated buildings, but we have success, college degrees and each other.

Someone once asked me why I never failed to mention that I am from the projects. This person has a painful history, having grown up extremely poor to the point of having no running water in the house. Her childhood was traumatic. She is doing well for herself now, but she shies away from her past. She will not discuss with anyone how she grew up. It is this denial that leads her to question me. How can I, having grown up in the most notorious part of the city, be able and willing to speak openly about it?

I am not ashamed of where I come from. It has made me who I am, good or bad. It showed me that the world can be harsh, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference. It is what inspires me to do better for my children so that they don’t have to experience what I did. The point is, embrace your past to know your future as the Sankofa bird of West Africa tells you.

 

A Personal Reflection on the Business of Self-Publishing

As a self-published writer, I find myself seeking tools that can not only help me sell more books but that can also help me in my writing process. To help other writers braving this unforgivable landscape we call self-publishing, I am writing this blog “The Business of Self-Publishing.”

The greatest advice I can give to you that was given to me is, keep writing. You should always be writing.

Other than that, self-publishing is a business. In business, people will always sell you things or at least try to. Your job is to decipher what you do and do not need. Believe it or not, you are in control of your greatest need: your ability to write. In addition to my writing skills, I have KDP Rocket (for identifying keywords to sell books), Autocrit (for editing) and I am thinking of adding Novelize for an easier writing process). I have not taken any workshops or bought much more than the things I mentioned.

When I initially set out on this self-publishing journey, I underestimated how hard this thing would be. I took for granted the ability to write good stories and sell them.  What I needed was a reality check, and that is what I got. There is a process to publishing, and that process is different for different people. You must perfect your process.

As I said, self-publishing is a business. It means you must have capital if you want to sell. You don’t need a lot of money, just enough to buy good covers, get some promotion and cover cost of materials, whatever they may be.

I have not been blogging much, because I am preparing to launch another two books. Stay tuned. I wanted to check in and let you all know where I’ve been and to tell you to keep going. You’ll make it.

#selfpublish #indieauthor

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is not your normal self-help book, and it is not for the faint of heart. This book doesn’t coddle you into feeling better or amp you up into believing you can do anything. Instead, it tells you how life is and suggests that you just deal with it.

As writers, authors and blogers, we create these posts or books and hope someone will read them, pray someone will give a fuck about them. What if they don’t? Do we give up writing or do we change gears?

I have always been a believer that in order to achieve goals, I must write them out and go for them. I had never been the type to weigh the consequences. As Mark Manson put it in Not Giving a Fuck, life is a series of problems and when you decide what success you want, you also have to decide what pain you want.

That means that everything comes with a certain stock of pain. As science puts it, for every action there is an equally adverse reaction. Simply put, take the good with the bad. Or as Troy Maxon in Fences would say, take the crookeds with the straights.

Success in writing, whether blogger, author or freelancer, is not easy. You will lose a lot to gain what you want. It is called sacrifice. This is why ninety percent of us fail. Because we lack the fortitude to keep on in the face of adversity.

But what is failure? It is an abstract idea really. Do we fail by society’s standards or our own?

What It Means to Be a Self-Published, Indie Author in 2018

A lot of writers who do not have book deals classify themselves as self-published or indie authors. They take on that title and expect instant success. Most of the time, if their first book does not do well, these “authors” drop out of the race to being America’s next great writer.

Over the last two years, I have complete several writing projects, including my upcoming novella “Operation Soul Cast” and my collection of short stories “The Book of All Things Beautiful.” And, let me tell you something: being an indie author is not easy. You effectively become:

  1. Writer
  2. Publicist
  3. Editor
  4. Promoter
  5. Finance Guy
  6. And so on and so forth

There is a lot that goes into releasing a book. First you have to write the book. Then you have to edit and proofread it and revise it yourself if you don’t have money to pay a professional. You have to format it for different versions, like audio, hardcopy and ebook. You have to constantly promote yourself. At times, it will seem overwhelming. It is not impossible.

Although I have been writing for years, I am still a novice in many aspects. I do not want to be an indie author forever. I want to be traditionally published, even though I would probably get to keep a lesser percentage of my royalties. So, why am I self-publishing at all?

Big publishing houses want novels, meaning greater than 60,000 words, but usually in the 90,000-word range. So, I self-publish my novellas, very short books, just to get my name out there.  But I have written novels and I am trying to get them published by a big publishing company. I’m not saying you should do the same.

What I am saying is, keep writing. No matter what. Put words on the page. Plan out your steps to write and release your books.

I hope this helps you pen the next great American novel.

A Review of A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership is a trip through the mind of one of the humblest men to pen a book and put it all on the line. At times, Comey opens to the point of vulnerability, expressing his true feelings and daring not hold back. Years from now, this book will be cataloged as history and stand partially as a reference on the most controversially detrimental presidencies this country has ever seen.

Although the end of the book speaks on Donald Trump and likens him to a mob boss with his “us versus them world view” and his “silent circle of assent” in which he says something and, because no one disagrees with him or speaks up, they all become complicit in whatever Trump is doing, Loyalty is about more than that. It is about the career of a man who never seemed to make as much money as he deserved, a man who lost a baby, a man who did his best to uphold the law.

Comey speaks of how much he hated bullies. Being a tall, lanky kid who did not have many friends, he was quite often bullied. At some point, he became a bully but realized he was wrong. He prosecuted many bullies in his days. And though he seems to have some level of respect for mob bosses to the effect of not embarrassing them in front of their families with an arrest, he sees them as a danger to society. He believes that no man, regardless of money, is above the law.

Admittedly, Comey acknowledges that he was no supporter of Barack Obama. However, after having met with him several times, he gained a great deal of respect for Obama’s honesty and focus. Once, when Comey gave a speech on law enforcement and the Black community, he called the bad guys “weeds.” Obama was able to challenge him on this term and help him realize why to some in the Black community it may have been offensive.

On several occasions during Comey’s term as FBI director, Donald Trump attempted to get the Director to pledge loyalty to him. Comey had been investigating Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton and some believed the investigation had led to her losing the election. Trump may have been one of those people and probably concluded that Comey was “a friend” of his. When he realized Comey was not, Trump fired him. FBI directors serve ten-year terms. Comey did not even serve four.

Comey speaks about being fired and how it hurt him. Even with that, his evaluation of Trump’s presidency as a “forest fire” is fair. He insinuates that Trump’s presidency is a threat to democracy. Still, he is hopeful, saying that forest fires make way for new life.

This book deserves 4.2 stars out of 5. Comey’s views on issues and crime within the Black community are shallow and static. Outside of being a law enforcement agent, he obviously has not read a great deal about the Black community or has not done any grassroots there to really feel what is happening there. Still, on other topics like Donald Trump as a compulsive liar and Barack Obama’s even-handed foresight, his evaluations are spot-on. Comey comes across as an honorable man and one would be hard-pressed to prove that everything he did in his career did not come from a good place within him.

#jamescomey #higherloyalty #barackobama #trump #donaldtrump