Are you lacking confidence in your art?
If so, chances are you are lacking the support of an audience.
I know that hard work and patience have been driven into the ground as far as advice goes, but what is your plan if you aren't going to be patient? What happens if you refuse to work hard? Does this mean your dreams have an expiration date?
If you're trying to get your art out into the world, then you must know it is a frustrating process. All the while, you must love your art. You must believe in your art. You must keep pushing forward.
You must also believe in the competition. And everyone is competing for attention. I'd like to boil my point down to focus on the world of writing, as this is where I am the most familiar; however, this same lesson can be applied to any dream. Whether you are hoping to be a schoolteacher, a lawyer, a physician, a painter, or a writer, if you have something in mind that is a dream for you, something that would make work not work at all, then you are trying to be noticed in a sea of other dreamers. It takes hard work. And patience.
As a writer, there are millions of people out there writing. Almost too many to count. Every time someone decides writing is not for them, another person picks up a pen. The first step is not to back away, ever. Write every day, even if it's only a few words. If that sounds like hard work for you, then you might want to reevaluate whether writing is your passion. Alex Haley, the author of "Roots," wrote every single day and received rejection after rejection for over eight years before finding success. That might sound like a long time, but it's not nearly as long as if he had decided to quit.
Are you certain that your writing is worth the world's attention, but your book was rejected by a publisher? That doesn't mean you are wrong, it just means your book was rejected. There are almost countless reasons to be rejected. Publishing is a business, and if the subject matter of your work doesn't match what the publisher thinks will sell, then it doesn't matter if you're J.K. Rowling; your work will be rejected. Seriously, you can ask her yourself. "Harry Potter" was rejected twelve times before finally landing a publisher.
But what if you've worked hard enough to get published that you have been rejected by almost everyone? In this day and age, self-publishing is an option, but uncountable authors walk away because they are afraid that no one will notice their book if it is not attached to a publisher. On top of that, self-publishing means self-advertising and being responsible for sales. Well, if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. Get on with it. Work hard. I've heard people concerned that nothing self-published ever becomes popular. Ever heard of The Tale of Peter Rabbit? Of course you have. And the reason you've heard of it is because Beatrix Potter put in the time and hard work to publish it herself. Why? Because no one else would publish it. Seriously. No one wanted that book.
Not convinced? What do Dr. Seuss, William Golding, Isaac Asimov, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, and James Patterson all have in common? That's right: multiple rejections. In some cases, the rejections were even quite brutal. Even the Diary Of Anne Frank was rejected...fifteen times.
The authors you know are popular because they persisted. Because they believed in their work. And they worked hard. And, of course, they were patient.
If you are unwilling to take rejection, then you are going to have a bad time in any field you take on. Writing is a journey of rejection. But climbing that mountain getting to the top is all the more sweet with a difficult climb ahead. Embrace the resistance to your work. It means you are original, and you simply have to find your audience. Along the way, expect rejection.
I can't find the source of this quote, but it's not mine, and I'm paraphrasing:
"An author unwilling to accept rejection is like a boxer unable to take a punch."
You will have to duck, jab, block, and punch your way through the world of publishing. You will fight because you believe in your work. Listen to constructive criticism. Throw out useless insults. Fight off the negative thought. Always improve.
And you must find your audience. Your audience is out there, you just have to hand your work over to a ton of people who don't appreciate it until you find those who do.
And that will take...you guessed it, hard work and patience.
Good luck. Now get to work.
- A list of best-sellers and their journeys through rejection: http://www.litrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/
- A fantastic video from a poetry publisher on the mathematics of rejection: