5 Reasons to Persevere in Writing and Publishing your Memoir or Novel

by Pamela Jane on April 9, 2013

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #99 – Memoir Writing – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover's Romp Through Jane Austen's Classic

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover's Romp Through Jane Austen's Classic

Recently, I mentioned to Matilda Butler that it had taken six years and seventy-five agents for my co-author and me to get our new book, Pride and Prejudice and Kitties, in print.  Matilda asked if I’d written about our journey, and I realized I hadn’t.  So here goes – from an author of twenty-eight books and someone who probably holds a record in the number – and the swiftness – of rejections.  (You can read about my funniest rejections and those of other writers here.)

#1 Rejections hold value

Pamela-Jane-Pride-and-Prejudice-and-KittiesNo, this isn’t a lecture on a virtues of adversity!  But rejections can be helpful.  One agent who initially showed interest in our P&P kitty mash-up, remarked, “How do we know Austen’s Pride and Prejudice isn’t a paradigm for a bunch of kitties running around the neighborhood?”  The agent ultimately decided not to represent us, but her comment was instrumental in shaping our vision for the book.  Often, editors will give you an authentic reason for turning down a manuscript, or suggestions for revision (as opposed to stock responses like “the story is too quiet to compete in today’s frenetic world”).  If you don’t keep your book out, you may miss the benefit of a constructive response, or a chance to engage in a dialog with an agent or editor.  You may even miss an offer for your book!

#2 Believing in your book is a genuine asset – not a pipe dream

Having been in several writer’s groups over the years, I’ve often been heartened to see an apparently flawed manuscript or confused concept transformed into a published gem through the author’s perseverance (and a little help from her friends).  The author believed in her book – and maybe the book believed in her back.  They held each other up – the vision, character or the narrative voice took firm hold of the author, and she, in turn, stayed with her story all the way to publication and beyond.

Colin Firth as the delectable Mr. Darcy

Colin Firth as the delectable Mr. Darcy

#3 Time is on your side

Time and timing –often perverse and uncooperative – can be allies.  In spite of the 1990s explosion of all things Austen ignited by the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice (with the delectable Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy), I believe that Pride and Prejudice and Kitties was ahead of its time.  In any case, when we started sending the proposal out six years ago it wasn’t quite the right time, in spite of interest from several agents.  In retrospect, my co-author Debbie and I also needed time – that magic elixir – to let our vision of the book evolve.   And, although we didn’t plan it, Pride and Prejudice and Kitties is coming out this year, the bicentennial of the original publication of Jane Austen’s classic.

#4 Mood is separate from action

This perspective is one I’ve often heard actors express about auditions.  You may feel discouraged or disheartened about getting rejected, or be experiencing an impasse with your writing.  That’s perfectly acceptable, and definitely understandable!  Put these feelings on a shelf and polish them to a high shine every day, if you want to.  Accept the feelings but do not let them influence your action plan, which should be devised and written down ahead of time.  Follow your plan for writing or submitting regardless of your mood.

#5 Fate, luck, and other mysterious phenomena can go your way.

7 randomnessThe apparent randomness of the universe is even more evident in the world of publishing.  We all know terrible books (at least in our opinion) that soar to the top of the best-seller list, and jewels that languish.  It’s unpredictable and arbitrary ­ – it’s not fair!  But sometimes the very unpredictability that foiled you in the past, lands squarely on your side.  Someone will see promise in your manuscript when you least expect it, or something in the news may heighten interest in your story.

I submitted "A Boo C:  A Spooky Alphabet Story" 123 times before it was accepted by Grosset & Dunlap

I submitted "A Boo C: A Spooky Alphabet Story" 125 times before it was accepted by Grosset & Dunlap

I’ve had books accepted two or three days after I sent them out, while others took over 125 submissions.  It largely was a matter of finding the right editor or agent, at the right house, at the right time.  Trends reverse, new publishing companies start up, old themes become new again. 
Sooner or later, things let up. 

Don’t give up until they do!

Poor Elizabeth is stuck dancing with Mr. Collins

Poor Elizabeth is stuck dancing with Mr. Collins

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties Links:

Visit our website: http://PrideandPrejudiceandKitties.com

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties in the Wall Street Journal

ALA Booklist: “We give you Jane Austen and cats, and that means we’re in it for the long haul.”

Coming Soon:  Pride and Prejudice and Kitties in the Huffington Post

Women’s Memoirs wants to congratulate Pamela Jane on her new book. It was published yesterday, April 8, and so is now available. We can hardly wait to get our hands on a copy. And talk about great timing. The book appears during the 200th anniversary celebration of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.

Want to know more about Pamela Jane’s new book? Below is her book trailer.

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