LUCY BURDETTE: One of our good friends at Jungle Red, Peg Cochran, has had an amazing run of good luck. Her first book, ALLERGIC TO DEATH, was published last week. And her second book, MURDER UNMENTIONABLE, written as Meg London will be out in September.
Except it isn't really good luck, it's INCREDIBLE persistence. And we invited Peg/Meg to share her story...we know you'll find it inspirational!
PEG COCHRAN: Does everyone remember Hester Prynne? She was the character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter who had to wear an “A” for adultery pinned to her dress. There have been times during this writing journey that I have felt like Hester. Only instead of an “A,” I’ve felt like I’ve had a big “R” burned into my forehead. “R” for rejection.
During one two-year period I kept track of all my rejections. I was circulating three manuscripts—two cozies and one young adult. During that time I received FOUR HUNDRED rejections. Not because I was hopelessly untalented, but because I hadn’t yet been in the right place at the right time with the right manuscript.
I was lucky enough to join an internet chapter of Sisters in Crime—the Guppies. Through the Guppies I learned a lot and made a lot of cyber friends. One of them emailed me to tell me that her agent at BookEnds had been contacted by Berkley Prime Crime. They were looking for an author to write a mystery series from a story line created by one of their editors. My friend forwarded my contact info and I was invited to “audition” for the opportunity to write the Sweet Nothings Lingerie Series. I wrote, rewrote and rewrote the first three chapters, and the agent submitted them to the editor. And, believe it or not, I was chosen to be the author of the series. One downside? I had to use a pen name because Berkley would own the series, the concept and the author’s name. So I became “Meg London” and got to work on finishing the first book.
Meanwhile, I had the cozy mystery I’d been circulating to agents sitting on my computer along with a hankering to see a book come out with my own name on it. My manuscript was food oriented, and since I had been stalking, er, following, my editor’s tweets, I knew she was definitely interested in cooking and recipes. One day I tweeted that I’d made a lovely low calorie fish dish. She tweeted back asking for the recipe. I sent the recipe, and, gathering up all my courage, mentioned I just happened to have this foodie cozy and would she be interested in reading it. She said to send it along. I was floored when a couple of weeks later my agent called to tell me that I was going to be multi-published! Allergic to Death came out on August 7 and Murder Unmentionable, written under my pen name, debuts on September 4.
How did I cope with all that rejection up till I became an overnight success (yeah, right)? Here are a couple of things that might work for you.
Wine. You can drown your sorrows, but also celebrate the smallest success. The agent put your name on the rejection letter. Score! She spelled it right. Score again!
Whine. To your friends, family, the person next to you on the bus. You’ll quickly discover they don’t understand at all. That’s when it’s helpful to have some writer buddies who do understand. I’ve found some wonderful on-line groups and a few local groups who have helped share my pain and celebrate my success.
Write. Write some more. The more queries you have out there, the more manuscripts you’re working on, the less painful the rejections will be because you’ll always have another iron in the fire.
Wait. This business requires incredible patience. Even the “overnight” successes weren’t. They worked hard and long to get where they are. As a friend said, “don’t quit five minutes before a miracle.” That “yes” might be just around the corner. Meanwhile, hone your craft and learn all you can. And above all—enjoy yourself!
THANKS PEG! JRW--Peg will be stopping in today to answer your comments and questions.