Monday, May 12, 2014

Go For The No!

 By Aaron Michael Ritchey

I have a friend and struggling novelist, Giles Hash, who is a rising star in the Colorado writing community. He has started up a Podcast, Beyond the Trope; he has an active blog (, and he is busy querying agents and editors with the latest book he’s been slaving over with the help of his critique group full of brilliant young guns packing wicked heat and looking for a fight.

We texted back and forth one night. He was feeling down because he was getting hammered with rejections, like an underdog boxer against the HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD! A left, a right, body blow, body blow, he’s up against the ropes, right cross, uppercut, body blow.

Rocky III drama ensues.

Slow-mo yelling. Spittle. An impossibly huge fist hits him and his facial features blur with the force of the publishing industry’s fist.

“Get out of there!” 

I’m texting Rocky III dialogue to him. I’ve been there. I know.

Courtesy of Chris,
But here’s the secret. It’s not the victories that are important in life. It’s not the yeses. It’s the nos.
Our job as authors is to collect as many nos as we can at every stage.


I wrote that in all caps. I yelled that to everyone in the ring, to everyone in the audience, to everyone.  Published, unpublished, afraid to write, everyone.

The secret to success is not in the yeses, it’s in the nos.

There is a fabulous book called GO FOR NO! by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz. It’s about sales.  Like it or not, as writers, we have to be sales people. A little hint, and many of you will wince, or laugh, or ignore me, but if you want to improve your sales skills, find someone who has a network marketing business, and ask them to attend a sales training. Most likely it will be free, or at least cheap, and you’ll make your friend very happy. And you will learn some sales techniques. If you don’t know anyone who has a direct sales business, contact me and I can hook you up.

But back to NO. GO FOR NO! Instead of telling you what the book is about, I’ll show you how I used its ideas.

Courtesy of Yasser,

I practiced going for nos at a Pikes Peak Writers conference not too long ago. Normally, I went to a conference, pitched to one or two agents, and then if I got a yes, I stopped. I queried the agent. A yes is good, right?

Yes. Yeses are good. Nos are better.

So at the 2011 Pikes Peak Writers conference, my goal was to collect nos. I wasn’t interested in yeses. I wanted to tally up the nos. I pitched to every agent and editor there, and I got some nos, but I mostly got yeses. Which increased my odds 500%. 

But I didn’t focus on getting yeses. I focused on getting nos.

Another example: I reached out to a famous author, and I asked for a blurb. I knew she didn’t give blurbs, but I wasn’t going to her for a yes, I was going to her for a no. And I explained I was looking for a no.

This famous author said no, but then she said yes. I’m going to appear on her blog, where she helps struggling authors trying to break out into the mainstream. I went for the no, I got the yes.

Courtesy of Ahaney,
With my books out in the world, a good way to get exposure is to get reviewed by book reviewers and book bloggers. But it’s a tough market out there, saturated, and it’s as hard to get a good book reviewer’s attention as it is an agent’s. So yeah, I’m querying book reviewers, and most don’t respond, but some do, and some say yes, but others say no. 

If I stop when I get a yes, I’m cheating myself, because the victory isn’t in the yeses, it’s in the nos.

Go for the no!

Count every no as a victory. Give yourself an ice cream for every no. Run ten miles for every yes.

This is a business of nos. At every stage. 

If you train yourself to go for the no, you will be able to celebrate daily.

Don’t go for the yeses, go for the nos.

Courtesy of Agnes,
And if you get a yes?

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.

Then get back to writing and collecting nos.

About the Author: Aaron Michael Ritchey grew up as a garbage can for stories including way too much Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Stephen King. His debut novel, The Never Prayer, was published by Crescent Moon Press in 2012. More recently, he has two new stories in the second and third issue of a new magazine, Fictionvale. Aaron’s next novel is a happy, little suicide book for young adults and anyone just this side of hopeless. Long Live the Suicide King is available now! Aaron lives in Colorado with his moviestar wife and two rockstar daughters.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent advice, Aaron. If we don't have a lot of nos in our files (or at the bottom of the shredder or in the email trash bucket), we're not trying hard enough.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.