Everyone gets rejected, and no one makes money.

The publishing blogs have been all atwitter this week about famous writers who have faced rejection.  There’s Michele Kerns’ list of 30 famous writers who have faced rejection (via Editorial Ass, and Rejectionist, and Dystel & Goderich, and did I miss anyone?) and today Nathan Bransford points out this unattributed list of “50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected” with the footnote “Only fifty?”

All of this should be very encouraging for we the aspiring authors.  Rejection isn’t the end of a career, it’s a precursor.  If we keep plugging away, and focusing on our craft, and observing submission guidelines as if they were the mores maiorum, hope is not lost.

Then Mary Kole at Kidlit.com goes and drops this weight on us:

Only 3-5% of published writers make a living on their published writing income (advances and royalties) alone.

…which just wants to make me curl up in a corner somewhere and cry.  I will never fault anyone for stating the truth, no matter how harsh, but the thought that I could spend the rest of my life stealing precious moments from my 9-to-5 workday to write upsets me far more than any number of rejection slips.

I’m not looking for fame and fortune.  I’m not asking to be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  All I want is to make enough money that I can dedicate myself to my writing, and not have to squeeze my writing time into the few hours a week I don’t spend earning money for food and shelter.  Writing in the weekends and evenings around my day job is hard.  Really hard.  I make myself do it because I’ve read about the writing writing habits of published authors like Mr. King and Michael Chabon and dreamed of the day I could dedicate hours every day to my craft.

So I’m going to have to plow ahead with the belief that I will be in that 3-5% of writers, or that I can be in the larger percentage who supplement that income with lectures, teaching, or (I assume, and should I be so lucky) film rights.  In the meantime I’ll keep up the day job – at least I’m lucky enough to have one I really care about — and keep plugging away at those novels until I get one published.  That would seem to be an important first step.


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