I'm working on a new online course, Profit from Your Creativity, and one section is about mindset.
One myth I'm writing about is that somehow people who publish your book or give your paintings space in their gallery are doing you a favor. Let's go to the supermarket to see if this is true...
At the supermarket you are confronted by an entire aisle of cereals. There are more cereals competing for your attention than can ever win it. It's a buyer's market.
If you choose the shredded wheat, are you doing it a favor? No, you're choosing it because you think it will taste good and/or be good for you.
It's a win for the shredded wheat and for you.
DON'T MAKE THE CORN FLAKES CRY!
Should the corn flakes take your rejection personally? Does it mean they should slink back to the Kellog's factory, knowing that nobody else will ever buy them?
Silly, right? Yet that's the attitude a lot of writers and artists have when their work is rejected.
All it means is that the person who rejected your work doesn't get it. It's their opinion that your work can't make any money for them. They may be right. If they are not excited about your work they wouldn't be any good at selling it to a publisher (if the rejector is an agent, for instance). By rejecting you, they are disqualifying themselves. They have shown they were not the business partner you were looking for.
If they do accept your work, they are doing it because they think they can profit from it. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but it underlines the fact that it's a transaction from which both parties can profit. It's a relationship of equals.
WHAT KIND OF GIRL SCOUT ARE YOU?
You may think that your attitude is not that important--it's the work that will determine whether or not it is accepted. However, the way you present it, for instance in a query letter or pitch, can have a major influence as well. Certainly it can influence whether or not the other person ever reads or looks at what you are offering. Three girl scouts will show you how that works.
At some point or another you've probably been approached by Girl Scouts selling cookies. Imagine three Girl Scouts with three different opening lines and think about how you'd respond:
Girl Scout A: "Hi, we're selling cookies. You don't want to buy any, do you?"
Girl Scout B: "Hi, we're selling cookies. Do you want to buy some?"
Girl Scout C: "Hi, we're selling cookies. Which do you like better, chocolate chip or brownies?"
It's really easy to agree with Girl Scout A: "No, I don't, thank you."
Girl Scout B's approach is better, but it still makes it very easy to say no.
Girl Scout C doesn't give me the chance to answer no right away. Instead, she prompts me to think about cookies. Which do I like better? If I like brownies, her question probably makes me think about (and maybe visualise) eating a brownie. Yes, please!
Unfortunately, a lot of writers are like Girl Scout A. Their query letters include negatives, like "My work hasn't been published yet, but...." Or in a pitch they say something like, "I haven't worked out all the details yet, but..." If you do that, nobody is going to buy your cookies.
THESE COOKIES WILL [not really] CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
I'm not suggesting that you go to the other extreme: "This book will outsell Harry Potter because it's the most exciting blah blah blah!" That's a turn-off too. It smacks of delusion or desperation, neither of which looks good on a writer or artist.
Instead, you want to use a form of presentation that reflects your enthusiasm for your project...and a potential win-win for equals.
(Would you like more useful information about writing, all the way from the idea through to publication? You'll find lots of useful help in my book, Your Writing Coach. It's published by Nicholas Brealey and available from your favorite bookseller.)