A Letter To My Unpublished Self by Matt Dunn

matt dunnDear Matt,

Each time you begin a hard day at the typeface, bracing yourself for the sound of yet another rejected manuscript being thrust through your letterbox and landing with a miserable thud on your hall carpet, just try to remember the following:

1) Those rejection letters that keep coming in will prove to be useful. Until your book gets published and you finally have some money to spend on things like heating, you can make a fire out of them to keep warm.

2) You know how you read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity a year or so ago and had an epiphany, telling yourself ‘that’s what I want to write’? Seven novels later, you’ll still be trying.

3) You can read as many ‘how to write a novel’ books as you like, but you’ll be much better off simply reading actual novels and trying to work out for yourself how the authors write them. Then doing that.

4) There’s a reason why ‘editing’ and ‘head-hitting’ sound similar. But you can get through what seem like these unending rounds of edits by reminding yourself there’s also a reason why there’s the word ‘pub’ in ‘publication day’.

5) It may seem tough now, but the first time someone emails you to say they’ve read and loved your book (and they will, even if it’s just your mum using an assumed name) will make all this rejection, frustration, and soul-searching worthwhile.

6) Ignore the nasty reviews. Don’t waste time wondering what it was about your just-meant-to-be-a-funny-story book that provoked such anger. Writers far better than you get horrible reviews, and you can be disliked by millions and still be popular. Look at Marmite.

7) You’ll write a fiction novel called The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, and a few people will actually buy it thinking it’s a self-help book. You won’t care, though. You’ll just be grateful for the sales.

8) Readers will constantly ask you whether your novels are autobiographical. Try not to wonder whether they put that same question to someone who writes about serial killers. They do.

9) Use this thing called ‘the internet’ that’s just becoming popular sparingly – you’ll write faster (and probably write many more books) if you do. The same goes for constantly checking your Amazon ranking – try and get hooked on something less addictive. Like crack cocaine.

10) Always remember you have the best job in the world. Except, perhaps for Ferrari test driver. Or Halle Berry’s masseur.

Best wishes, and keep writing,


Check out Matt Dunn’s Website

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3 Responses to A Letter To My Unpublished Self by Matt Dunn

  1. Brea Brown says:

    So funny, yet so wise! Crack cocaine IS less addictive than checking your Amazon ranking. Not that I would know to compare… Just assuming.

  2. What a wonderful article, I’m going to post this to Romance Writers Australia! Thank you!

  3. Imelda Evans says:

    Love it, Matt! Also suitable to the published, methinks!

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