Sweet rejection!!

December 2, 2009 at 23:10 (1)

Started work on my latest edit of the first Mr Crepsley book today. My outgoing editor, Stella, gave me her thoughts on the book before she went, so I’ve taken those on board. I didn’t agree with all the points she raised, but it’s always good when an editor tells you their true thoughts and feelings — even if you don’t see eye to eye on a certain point, it can often lead you to revise a piece in a different way and come up with something that makes the story even stronger than it was before. Got through about 30 pages today. I would have done more, but I had to spend quite a bit of time in the morning working on the preliminary plans for my Thin Executioner tour next May. Originally I had planned to do a specific part of the country, as I did with Dark Calling when I confined myself to the south west of England and Wales. But since Thin is a stand alone book, I changed my mind and figure I should hit as many spots as possible, to give fans all over the country a chance to come along and have their copy signed. Haven’t picked any places to travel to yet (though it looks like it might end in Brighton!!!), but the good news for you guys is that far more of you are going to get a chance to see me in May than I previously anticipated — hurrah!!!!

A fan called Alex wrote to me last week with a few queries:

When you were working before resigning to write full time, what was urging you to quit? The desire to write full time, the desire to write more publishable books or was it a feeling that there is nothing else you want to do, other than write?

I wanted to write the very best books that I could, to push myself as far as I could. To do that, I needed to write full-time. I wasn’t content to hold down a regular job and develop slowly by writing part-time, as most writers do. I was prepared to go without money for a few years, and to scrape by. Writing mattered more to me than anything else.

Also, how did you write to Christopher Little when you first sought an Agent? (I mean more in terms of writing style). Did you write in a way that would show respect towards the Agency or more to show how you and your book(s) have the potential to go far? When i wrote to two agents i wrote my letter as formally as i could to show maturity and that I’m well-spoken (which, by the way, i believe i am). Needless to say i have 2 rejection letters. Which brings me on to another point – should I be sad that I’ve lost one of them. It may be a disappointing letter, but i was proud of the fact that i had spoken out and shown my work to a Literary agent and quite saddened when i couldn’t find the letter later on. I still have the envelope, not much consolation though.

Rejection letters are cool!!! I mean, obviously an acceptance letter and an advance from a publisher are far cooler!!!! But the great thing about getting rejected is that at least you’ve made the effort to get your work out there — you have physical proof to show people that you are really trying to succeed as a writer. It takes guts to send your work off to an agent or publisher. Many would-be writers never work up the courage to take that step, and end up going nowhere and putting their dreams aside. You should be proud of your rejection letters, of the fact that you’ve had the guts to stand up and be counted. While it’s nice to hold onto them, especially an early one like this, I wouldn’t worry too much about losing one — you’ll probably pick up lots more before you make it!!!!! If you’re serious about being a writer, rejection is part and parcel of the process — Cirque Du Freak was rejected by 20 publishers in the UK, all at the same time!!!!! You have to believe in yourself and your work, and just keep plugging away. As for writing your letter to an agent — as I always advise young writers, read The Writers And Artists Yearbook (the American version is called, I think, Writers Market). That provides you with all the sort of practical advice that you will need for matters like this.

You mentioned in your blog on 26/11/09 that you are hoping that your new adult book gets the green light. Does that mean that you feel like an un-established author who has sent off his latest manuscript, or would you say that being as successful as you are, you are more likely to have your manuscript accepted by an agent and bought by a publisher?

Because I like to play around with different genres and styles and stories, I never take it for granted that my work will be automatically accepted. The Demonata was a very different sort of series to The Saga, and could have been rejected. The Thin Executioner and the Mr Crepsley books are very different to The Demonata, and again there was no guarantee that my publishers would go for them. I think it’s good for a writer to challenge himself and live out on the edge as much as he can. I don’t ever want to turn into a safe, comfortable writer, one who becomes part of the establishment. I want to send a shiver down the spines of my readers, but be seen as some dependable, kindly uncle type of figure!! I’ve been on a winning streak for the last 10 years with my children’s books, and my adult books are starting to pick up a head of steam now. But by looking at what’s happened to other writers over the years, and given that I am always testing myself and trying new things, I have to accept that there’s a good probability that one day I’ll struggle again and have to fight my corner the way I did with Cirque, when I basically took on the entire publishing board of the UK and won. I might not win next time round, but if I fail, I won’t go down without a good, strong, bloody battle!!!! You’ve got to be prepared to fight for your work when you’re a writer — after all, if YOU won’t stand up for it, who the hell will??????

5 Comments

  1. Barry Hutchison said,

    Some really useful advice there, Darren. I took that same plunge and decided that writing full time would let me write the best books I possibly could. It meant beans on toast for more nights than I care to remember (and sometimes just toast!) but I think it has been worth it.

    I also 100% agree that a rejection letter is something to be proud of. It’s like in Jaws, when Flint is showing off all the wounds he has received from sharks over the years. Rejection letters are a writer’s war wounds, and they help shape the writer you will one day become.

  2. sani said,

    hello to darren . bigest man in this world.
    i am a iranian boy . i love you and your books very much .
    i want that you will say your idea about iran and iranian piople . and ahmadinejad

  3. Miley said,

    Good advice from a great writer!!! I’ll have to tell my friend Mara that you said that… She’s a great writer, but she’s a bit on the shy side. My friends say I’m a great writer… They think I’m creative, but I guess I’m a bit like Mara myself!!!

  4. Robbie said,

    Hmm. Good blog. I hope you were writing the fictitious sense when you said killing is justified. I think it never is, no matter what. Keep up the good work, I s’pose.

  5. Zoe said,

    Great advice Darren!

    I just finished Hells Heroes! I memorized the last paragraph! An AWSOME BOOK!
    A great way to end a ten book series, i am a little upset that it was the last book, im not sure that i will even get over it 😦 Whats the Mr. Crepsley book? Im a little confused about that one.
    I cant wait to read your new book/ the rest of Cirque du Freak/ The City, basicly…. ALL OF THEM

    Keep up the good work (books)

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