The Rhino Hide of a Writer

I’m working on toughening my skin again, the better to deal with rejection. You see, I’ve begun sending one of my picture books out to try to find an agent and the process is rough. You won’t survive it without a skin as tough as a rhinoceros’s hide, or perhaps as tough as some kind of military-grade advanced polymer.

Naturally, after girding up my loins for that first rejection, it came within an hour of sending out that first emailed query letter.


I guess it’s better to know quickly than to have them drag it out for months. I know it’s better to know quickly. It just doesn’t give you much time to build yourself up for it, to tell yourself that it’s all right, that you will, indeed, survive this process and come out on the other end with a successful career.

It’s a bizarre cycle– you have to adore and love your book while you’re writing it. You have to loathe it while you’re editing it. You have to love it again as you build up your nerve to send it to agents or editors. And then you have to have a certain distanced disregard for it while the rejections pour in. “What? My novel? My picture book? You must be mistaken . . . I’m just the guy who handles the mail.”

I’m pretty disillusioned about my first novel, as well. I sent it to 5 beta readers. Of those, only my dad read it. I have to assume that he read it because he is, well, my dad. If I can’t even get my beta readers to finish the thing, then there must be some significant problem with the book. So, it probably needs editing again. But is it a productive use of my time to edit it again? Or should I just write another? What did I do wrong? And how can I avoid that in the next book?

I’m working on that rhinoceros hide, but man, the bullets coming in are coming from high-powered rifles and they zip right through, into my heart.

Why do we put ourselves through this? Is the payoff really worth the pain? How much of one’s ego should be invested in their writing?

All of those are questions for which I have no answers. All I can do is carry on, so I will research another handful of agents to send my manuscript to (and send it), and I will write another 300 words on my Noah book each day, and (sometime this week) I will open up my Dragon Venom manuscript and chop the first three chapters to bits.

And if I’m crying at any point during these proceedings, well . . . no one can tell if there’s tears on your manuscript if it’s electronically submitted.




About Marti Booker

Writer of fantasy and historical fantasy fiction, mother of 6, former nurse, Catholic convert, wife of 25 years, and general all-around geek. Warning: Do not attempt this at home. View all posts by Marti Booker

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