Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #7: The Dreaded Excusitis

Beware Excusitis, or Failure Disease.

“I would have been published, but…”

“I would have finished my novel but…”

Avoid people who are negative, because you may get caught up in it.  You know that negative guy in your writer’s group who thinks the whole industry is out to get them?  The one who self-published a book of haikus about his cat’s hair balls?  Can we get rid of that guy?

Focus on what you want… your goals, and don’t let anyone drag you away from them.  Surround yourself with positive people who will be there to pick you up when you fall.

Remember: the gut wrenching stab of a rejection letter is nature’s way of telling you that you are still in the running.  By in the running, I mean that you still care.  You still want to succeed.  The people who don’t give up are the ones who are the most successful.

Also, if you get rejections, don’t always think “it’s not me, it must be them”.  Remember to change your query or manuscript to get the best results.  If you are using the same query you wrote a year ago, maybe it is your query?  Maybe your synopsis is really poor?  Think that over.  Maybe you can make a small change that will fix everything.

For instance, Jon Gibbs was sending Fur Face to YA publishers.  After a long time, one of them was nice enough to tell him “This is really good, but it’s not YA.  It’s middle grade.”  Jon had no idea.  He submitted to a MG publisher, and Abracadabra!  Publication.  Sometimes you just need to change your thinking a bit.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and

Jon blogs at



14 responses to “Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #7: The Dreaded Excusitis

  1. Totally awesome advice! I hate writers that try to sow self-doubt in others instead of trying to build up their fellow travellers on the road to publication.

  2. I’ve amassed a few rejections, which I’m actually quite proud of 😀 After all, none of my friends are actively pursuing their dreams on top of the boring education dream. I’ve won a couple of competitions. (No money received though. I’ve been paid in books.) When I submitted one to a publisher, they asked for my age. I told them, and I got my first personalized rejection which told me I’m talented. I framed it 🙂

    • Ha! I think I’d frame it too. I think it’s great that you are out there actively trying. I started writing younger than you, but I did it for fun and for my friends. Then I stopped for a long time and had a family. It was a mistake, and now I am working my butt off to make up for it.

  3. I always appreciate feedback, no matter how disheartening it is. It’s rare for a newbie writer to get constructive criticism by people in the biz qand often we only get “sorry, not for us’, which tells us nothing. It’s no wonder we keep querying anyway. The first time I got an actual solid reason that I could sink my teeth into, it was a breath of fresh air. You have to be open minded and prepared to admit you didn’t write it well enough.

    • Ha! I was commenting on your blog and I came back to find you were commenting on mine. Too funny. I think you are right by the way. New writers need to seek out the help they need. It will rarely fall into their lap.

  4. Wise words. I was grateful for any morsel an agent gave me, even if they rejected my manuscript. At first, it’s easy to take personally: “Well, she doesn’t know what the story’s about” or “He doesn’t understand my characters.” But it’s important to consider their advice. That doesn’t mean you have to change it, but at least give it good thought and try to come at it from their viewpoint. Every agent who gave me a tip at the same time as a rejection helped strengthen my manuscript in one way or another.

  5. I heard on the radio a while back that focusing on negativity is a human survival instinct because danger is a negative thing. So back in the caveman days, it was important for energy to be more focused on danger, i.e. the negative things, than anything else in order to be prepared to act on it quickly. I have interpreted this to mean that us positive people are just more evolved than the negative ones 🙂

  6. Yes yes yes, perfectly said. The but people. I’ve read some negative commentaries about the industry as a whole of late and they made me feel quite ill at my prospects, so I choose to ignore them and plod on.