What To Do When You Keep Hitting Your Head Against A Brick Wall

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Post written by Peter G. James Sinclair.

I made the decision this year that I would pursue a literary agent and publisher for two of my books.

One was called The Creator – a fiction novella. Now a novella is a short book that can be easily read in one sitting. The other was the story about my dad’s first twenty five years, where he grew up on the poverty stricken streets of Redfern in Sydney Australia entitled Angels In Darned Socks & Patched Trousers. This book is a narrative non fiction novel of more than 75,000 words.

In an online world now allowing for self publishing and creation of ebooks, to some it seemed a strange strategy, especially for someone who had spent the past year building his online presence with his blog.

But the facts were that I had previously self published three books: Memories, Thoughts & Photographs, A Piece Of Daddy’s Heart and Good Things Don’t Come to Those Who Wait. In addition to that I had assisted three other authors to publish their books and had helped them sell them both in Australia and the UK.

So into the world of publishing I ventured. I wanted to know what it feels like having a literary agent and a publisher. I knew that the publisher would keep most of the money, but I also believed that they may be able to assist me to have a greater reach globally.

With the passing of months I received rejection after rejection after rejection. At last count I was getting to close to 100.

Now I can handle rejection. I faced this when I first wrote my very first book. I was rejected by just about every publisher and literary agent in my own nation before deciding that I would self publish – which I ultimately did successfully with huge sales  for an Australian author and big cheques being handed to me.

Time For Review

It was becoming very clear with my Novella, with the shortness of the work, that it was going to be a tough road, as an unknown author, to launch my publishing career with such a work as my first offering.

And with regards to my novel, the very fact that it was a work like no other work that I had previously written – drawing upon my dad’s voice recordings as the basis of the work, that I may just need the assistance of a professional editor in order to bring it to the level that I needed to bring it to before resubmitting.

The facts are that if you find yourself continuing to hit your head up against a wall, you may need to evaluate, and readjust.

It was during that period that I actually decided to review what I had been doing in the writing field since 1997 which was the year that I first self published a book.

To my utmost surprise I had, amidst owning and operating other businesses, written a book a year over a period of thirteen years. Some  published in hard copy. Some ebooks. Some unpublished. I was amazed at my output.

Time To Change Tack

After deciding to change tack I pulled all the books that I had brought up to the hard copy stage, and I decided that I would begin to prepare them to be presented to publishers and literary agents.

On reviewing what I had to work with I discovered that  I could now present an additional 6 books to the ones I had already pitched.

Here’s the list…

  • Good Things Come To Those Who Don’t Wait – I actually changed the title slightly from its original title of Good Things Don’t Come To Those Who Wait.
  • Seasons Of Success
  • Memories, Thoughts & Photographs – I am in the process of giving this book a whole new title and it will be pitched at the Christian market because of its content.
  • A Piece Of Daddy’s Heart
  • A Piece Of Mummy’s Heart
  • For A Year & A Day

It was now time to prepare to pitch these to various publishers and literary agents all around the world. I was excited.

So as a direct result of this change of strategy I had increased my chances from a 1 in 2 chance to  the possibility of getting 6 additional titles picked up.

All the above books are written in the personal development genre which of course is my speciality and my strength.

And while these books are being pitched globally I will continue to work on my novellas and novel.

The beauty of this strategy is that I can maintain momentum, rather than finding myself stuck.

Lessons From Brick Walls

So what does this teach us about how to handle the brick walls in our life?

1. Brick walls are not built for continuous head banging.

There comes a point when you just have to stop hitting your head against a brick wall. All of us have different tolerance levels. Find out what is yours through practice. Mine was nearly 100 rejection slips.

2. Allow the brick wall to help you to develop fresh strategy.

This is not a lesson about defeat. This is a lesson about how to win. This is a lesson of changing strategy. I have learned throughout the years that walls are good for a number of things. They are built for us to go over, under, around or simply straight through. Walls are not to stop forward progress, but in the process the wall is there to teach us something about ourselves. Walls make us strong, if we let them.

3. Brick walls are designed to teach us about a better way.

After 100 rejections I could have come up with the reasonable assumption that writing and publishing books just wasn’t my gig. Or I could take a step back and see if there is another way. That led me to taking a closer look at my backlist of work, and now rather than two chances for success I have increased my chances by a whopping 300%.

So what next?

Well stay tuned. My publishing journey has just begun and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

But while you’re at it, go pursue your dreams, no matter what walls you find yourself banging your head up against.

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