Discover more from Ventorship with Jason June
We All Failed
In Which We Realize That's a Good Thing, and See Lots of Red, Too 🛑
Ventorship Passengers! Sailors? Shipmates? Seamen (hehe)? What do we call ourselves aboard the Ventorship? Regardless, I am so unbelievably happy you are here. I can’t tell you how blown away I was by the support from other authors on my last post. It just really hit home that we’ve all been craving a place where we can feel less alone and look at each other like, “You’re seeing the same thing I’m seeing, right?” even though we’re all holed away in our own separate writing caves in our favorite brand of dirty clothing. That’s the kind of connection I’m here for!
And it seems the universe was ready and waiting to whisk us off our lonely author islands because right when I was thinking of starting this new direction for my newsletter, the hysterical, brilliant, and prolific Jesse Q. Sutanto posted this epic instagram post:
This is a list of all the manuscripts Jesse has written since 2010, with the highlighted items being those that sold. First of all, holy moly Jesse is a writing machine! Second, you’ve got to go and read Jesse’s caption because she shows us that getting to twenty completed manuscripts wasn’t all easy breezy. The big take away is: she didn’t stop writing. Even if there were massive gaps between stories, or life stressors, or manuscripts that took longer to write than expected. She kept going.
Jesse’s post took off as I’m sure you’ve seen, another testament to how we’ve all been craving this author connection through shared experience. So many of us posted our own manuscript lists, baring our souls and including those stories that were shelved or set adrift at sea. Here’s mine:
I started writing novels utterly CONVINCED I was going to write middle grade fantasy. But five years of writing and three complete (and completely rejected) manuscripts later, that wasn’t in the cards. Then I pivoted, sticking with the fantasy route and writing OUT OF THE BLUE, but totally different from what we know today. It followed two merpeople who were so UNBELIEVABLY ANGSTY and full of FEELINGS and in the end…MERPEOPLE DIED 😵
Needless to say, that went nowhere. I just needed to embrace the level of camp and light-heartedness that *is* Jason June and that’s when JAY’S GAY AGENDA sold. I know I wrote that in one throwaway sentence like it was no big deal, but really, there were many moments in the process of writing JGA that sucked. I was so disheartened after four failed manuscripts, so frustrated, so jealous of other authors who I knew I could fit right alongside if I was just given the chance (oooh author jealousy; definitely something we should talk about sometime).
But the beautiful thing this trend showed was that we’ve all been there. Literally, every single post I saw proudly displayed shelved manuscripts. These could be considered failures, or maybe they were the stories we had to write for our subconscious to get ready to deliver the manuscripts that would change our lives.
What I love most about the trend Jesse started was it wasn’t meant to be a trend at all. I asked her what the spark was to post that list of manuscripts, and she said the spark was “so boring.” After finishing her most recent manuscript, she wrote the list to refresh her memory as to how many stories she’d completed. Then she posted and voila! Instant connection opportunity for thousands of authors! Not to sound too cheesy (but come on, I’m me), I love that so much. I love how we were all grateful to Jesse for opening the door to talk about what we’ve been through, and relive those days of thinking we might never be published so we could really see how far we’ve come, or for pre-published authors to see their books are truly just around the corner.
To be even a little more vulnerable, I wanted to share sublists with you here, to demonstrate just how many times we can get told no. I’ve deleted editor names because I don’t want anyone to think I’m calling them out when not everybody has to like my books (spoiler: lots of people didn’t! And don’t!), but all these red lines are the times I’ve been rejected since 2014 (when I got my first agent), and the light orangish-brown are rejections because we just never heard back on the submission. Ready to scroll? I apologize in advance if you hate the color red 😬
245 rejections (if my count is right) across novels (YA, MG, and Adult) and picture books, through multiple rounds of submission, most with completed manuscripts, a couple with pitches consisting of a synopsis and sample pages. That’s a hell of a lot of no.
But, despite all the red—as Jesse’s list and my list and all those other lists show—you’ll get those yeses (for my records, an accepted offer gets coated in PINK). Yet, it’s so easy for us to get weighed down by the shelved manuscripts, by all the nos. It’s such a punch to the gut, even though every single author throughout all of time has heard no most likely hundreds, if not thousands, of times. So I’ve decided whenever I go on submission, I’m going to keep an up-to-date tally here of all the times I’m turned down, to give that gentle reminder that we’re all hearing it, and you’re not a failure when someone doesn’t want to publish your books.
Just add that no to the list. It’s getting you one step closer to the yes. Or, at the very least, it’s reminding you that we’re all in the same boat ❤️
Since launching the Ventorship, I’ve received a few emails from authors venting, and those posts will be up in the coming weeks! If you’d like to vent about anything author/writing related, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: VENTORSHIP. I’ll give you my take in a post, and we’ll crowdsource author opinions in the comments. You’ll remain anonymous, and any haters will be thrown overboard. Ultimately, I think you’re going to be buoyed up by the boatload of author love and support 🛳️