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publish.me: How to be a Rhinceros

Posted on Tue, Mar 28 2017 9:00 am by Dawn Frederick


Books are generally a source of comfort for readers. What the readers may not realize is it the rollercoaster of emotions that any author experiences while creating those books.

If there’s one thing I will always honor, it’s an understanding and appreciation of authors putting themselves out there, being willing to share their stories hell or high water. As an agent, I am used to seeing this side of the creation of a book, but there’s only so much I can do. It’s generally understood that in order to survive publishing, rhinoceros skin is required.  It takes time to develop this protective covering, but it’s guaranteed it’ll help any writer survive the pre- and post-publication process. 

What are some ways to tackle those insecurities?

  1. Rejections are never personal.  Whether querying an agent or publishing house, it’s important to remember that they receive many queries every day – and are only able to work on a limited number of books in any calendar year. If you’ve received a rejection, celebrate your initiation into publishing.  This will be the first of many, while providing guidance on making your book (and its pitch) better.
  2. Assume there will be people who don’t like your book, this doesn’t pertain to YOU as a person.  There’s a reason why books are broken down into categories, as every reader/agent/editor has a preference for specific topic. There may be clear reasons why the idea didn’t connect, but it’s the result of general reading preferences. Please remember that maybe your book wasn’t meant to be liked (or read) by those who didn’t like the category/topic in the first place. This isn’t a judgement of your character, or you.
  3. Publishing is S.L.O.W. For anyone who believes their worth will be judged solely by their publishing successes, take the time to step back and remember why writing was pursued in the first place. If one finds anxiety in the pace of publishing, as those successes can take years, don’t put yourself into a mindset that you’re a failure. Some of our most revered writers faced those same anxieties, and the reason we know them today is because they persevered.  They kept writing.

There is no magic formula to make publishing faster. Some ideas take feet before others, due to whatever random algorithm made it happen. Your confidence as a writer should never be measured by the snail pace of publishing.

Developing rhino skin is not only a part of finding success as a writer, but it’s something to be celebrated. Never discount the benefits of learning from rejection, while fine-tuning your writing craft. It’ll be the condition that keeps on giving, well into your writing career. 

Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner & literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. Red Sofa Literary is a celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our publishing community. Dawn’s previous experience reflects a broad knowledge of the book business, with over a decade of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores, an editor for a YA publisher, and an associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. Dawn earned a BS in Human Ecology and a MS in Library & Information Sciences from an ALA-accredited institution. She is also one of the founders of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, which brings writers and publishers together over a monthly happy hour. www.redsofaliterary.com was voted as one of the Best 101 Websites by Writer’s Digest in 2012 and 2013