Today I’m pleased to welcome author Chris Rakunas, here to chat about his new book Tears for the Mountain.
Chris Rakunas is a native of California, educated at UC Berkeley and eventually earned an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of business. After a successful career in healthcare, including time as the COO and CEO of for-profit hospitals, he left the corporate world to write. His first book, Tears for the Mountain, was a non-fiction book about a 2010 medical mission trip to Haiti following the devastating earthquake there. Proceeds from that book went to benefit New Life Children’s Home, the orphanage in Port-au-Prince where the book is based. The book was published by indie press Divertir Publishing. In 2012 he was awarded the Silver Prize at the Dearborn Street Book Festival for his work.
He is married and he and his wife, Darcey, currently reside in Clinton, Oklahoma.
Read CBS News Report on Tears for the Mountain here
The Art of The No
by Chris Rakunas
When authors sit around to kvetch about our calling, one of the most common things we discuss is rejection. I don’t mean being picked last at dodge ball or why we didn’t have dates to our Senior Prom, but rejection from the publishing industry. It is a fact that every writer, including the greats, has been rejected. A few years back I read a blog where someone had re-submitted James Fennimore Cooper’s “The Deerslayer” to major publishing houses to show how hard it is to be published, and the book was rejected.
It happens to all of us.
There are two ways to handle the rejection. One is to throw a tantrum, stamp one’s feet, hold one’s breath, or say lots of four letter words that normally would not be repeated in mixed company. This can also include sending scathing emails back to publishers and/or agents, letting them know how wonderful your book is, and that it is you who will have the last laugh during your Nobel acceptance speech. The alternative to this puerile behavior is to handle it with grace and humility, and simply move on.
While it might feel good to send a nasty-gram, the latter is the better course of action, especially if you can learn something from it. When I was sending out queries for Tears for the Mountain, my non-fiction book about a medical mission trip to Haiti, I received many rejections. A handful of them, however, had a few comments, and after the initial sting wore off, I took them to heart. Since it was my first book, there were plenty of things I didn’t know about the publishing industry, and, as it turns out, I had gone about the book in a completely backwards way. I had written the manuscript first and then sent in queries; as it turns out, publishers like to see proposals for non-fiction books before they are written. I also made the rookie mistake of thinking the words ‘book’ and ‘novel’ were interchangeable. Fortunately, one agent mentioned it to me in his rejection letter. I realized that I was the one trying to break into their world, and I needed to be humble as I learned to navigate my way through the publishing process.
One of the rejections I received included the sentence, “We’re only publishing paranormal YA romance right now, so unless you can add a vampire, we’ll have to pass.” This has always stuck with me since the idea of adding something that didn’t actually happen to non-fiction is what literary scholars call a big, fat, bold-faced lie, and I am sure the media would have had a field day with my book had that been the case. Of course, I thought my compelling story about treating the wounded in Haiti after the earthquake had much more societal value than any of the boy-meets-girl-who-falls-in-love-with-another-boy-and-two-of-these-three-have-relatives-in-Transylvania stories that seem to be on every bookshelf. But for some publishers, that’s all that they were interested in at the time. (But don’t think I didn’t contemplate writing the fictional sequel, Tears for the Mountain 2: Delivering a Beat Down to Werewolves Everywhere)
Not every publisher or agent is going to be interested in your work. And that’s ok. The best thing to do is handle the rejections with grace and humility, and whenever possible, listen to feedback that’s given. Every one of us has enough rejection letters to wallpaper Hearst Castle, and all it takes is for one acceptance to get your book published.
Chris Rakunas is the author of Tears for the Mountain: Delivering Hope to Haiti after the Earthquake, available now in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com, BN.com, and BookDepository.com worldwide. His second book, The 8th Doll, will be published by Divertir Publishing at the end of this month. You can follow him on Facebook.
Have you ever been stung by rejection? Please feel free to leave a comment for Chris below.