It's A Kean World


"Dear Contributor, We are returning your worthless story. It is the dumbest story we have ever read.  Please don’t send us any more. Please, Please, Please!"  No this isn’t an example of a letter sent to me, it is actually one sent to that famous would-be author, Snoopy.  Of course the ones I get are much too similar for comfort.


After a successful year selling Being From The South Doesn’t Make Me Stupid! primarily in small gift shops I decided to shoot for the big boys like Wal-Mart, Silver Dollar City, Stone Mountain Park, Dollywood, Callaway Gardens, and so forth.  It has been a life confirming experience to date.  Yes, it confirmed that old expression, “If at first you don’t succeed quit, go home and sulk.”


“At this time we cannot use your book in any of Wal-Mart’s programs.”  It is a simple and straight forward sentence, but let’s look at what it really means.  “At this time …” it means never, not now, not next year, not in your lifetime, not in this millennium will we ever put your book on our shelves.  “… in any of Wal-Mart’s programs” means that while they have hundreds of ways to sell books your little effort fails to meet even the most basic qualifications for any of them.  Have you seen some of the stuff they do sell?  Talk about hurting your feelings.


Does that happen often you say?  Well the truth is that this is better than what usually happens.  A phone call to find out where to send my book begins the process.  Then I send books out and wait two weeks before calling again.  It is understood that they will never, ever call me.

The fun really begins with the follow-up phone calls.  The person I need to talk to is not in for the first three to six calls.  Then one day they actually answer the phone.  “Who? Oh yeah.  I got the book.  It’s around here somewhere.  We’ve been really busy.  Could you call back in a week?”  I tell myself that at least they didn’t tell me to send the book way, way south. 


Of course all the calls don’t go that way, some are more like this.  “Yeah, I read the book and really liked it.  I gave it to Fred who does the book buying.  Call me back in a week or so.”  Remember that the first thing I did was make an effort to determine who would make buying decisions.  The only reason I didn’t send the darn thing to Fred in the first place is they told me someone else.  Odds are Fred won’t like it, but I’ll never actually talk to Fred anyway.


The difference between writers and the sane world is that we have to deal with rejection almost every day.  You, on the other hand, probably get rejected no more than once or twice a month.  Of course every now and again we get to whine about it in public.  Did I say whine?  This is not whining.  Whining is what I do after the sixteenth call to the guy in Dollywood who won’t answer his phone and has more of my pathetic voice mail messages than Sherman had matches. 


Three tips to being published:  Research your target.  Match your writing to your target’s needs.  Keep writing.            


One final point,try really, really hard not to take rejection personally.  And if you figure out how to do this let me know.

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