Tip #3 in the 52 Ways Not to Get Published series
More than any venture outside of running for public office, writing attracts naysayers. Unfortunately, naysayers come in a myriad of disguises. You must learn to recognize these allies in your efforts not to get published.
The first brand of naysayer is the Statistician. This is the person who will spout statistics all day long, mostly to show the slim likelihood that you will ever get published. For instance, I’ve heard rates revealing that anywhere from 5% to 1 in 5,000 (that’s .02%) of submitted manuscripts ever get published. There are statistics on the high commissions taken by agents, the low royalties seen by writers, the rate of fiction publication to nonfiction. The reason for having all these statistics is presumably to give a dose of reality regarding the industry. Regardless of the intent, the result will discourage you from ever attempting to reach such improbable success. Who can argue with such odds?
Another naysayer is the Teacher. The Teacher is a sly creature. You will believe the Teacher is there to help you hone your writing skills and get published. It may be a while before you notice that the Teacher is merely patting you on the head with condescension, meting out just enough encouragement to keep you coming back for more tutelage. Beware the Teacher, however. The Teacher may not actually have your best interest at heart and may actually get you on the path to publication. You want to find the Teacher that keeps you spending all your time, energy and money on workshops and classes. After all, that’s the way the Teacher makes a living and you remain unpublished.
Then there’s the Bureaucrat. The Bureaucrat loves rules. Most of the Bureaucrat’s rules involve absolutes—what you either must do or can’t do to be published. It is fortunate to have these rules about openings and endings and point of view and prologues (don’t!) and clichés and formatting. Otherwise, writers might actually be creative and explore new territory and try new things. But thank heavens for the Bureaucrat, as he gives you all the rules you need to break in order to assure you won’t get published.
The final character in your circle of allies is the Writer. Often the Writer has neither published anything nor even finished a writing project to submit. As such, the Writer can be a reincarnation of Eeyore, the depressed donkey from the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Even after you’ve taken a mere sip from your glass, Eeyore will see your cup as half empty. The Writer has a similar view on writing. Whatever you write it will never be good enough, and the Writer wants to make sure you know it.
If you want to make sure you never get published, learn to recognize these naysayers. Surround yourself with them. They will suck the will from your soul and leave you without the courage or ambition to ever even submit for publication (see Tip #1 Never submit.)
I also enjoyed this article on why publishers reject manuscripts. Be aware that author Richard White’s approach is to actually get you published.