Give up or give in?

Over the years, I have sometimes wondered whether it would be kinder to tell aspiring authors to give up. It took me eight years to get my publishing deal with the amazing CarinaUK – six to get my first agent. During that time there were many tears and I’m not a cry baby. Somehow the rejection of writing that comes straight from our core hurts so much. I wrote novel after novel, giving in to the passion for my craft, but time and time again I felt like giving up.

Not one single published friend of mine ever advised that though. And I’m thankful now. Without their support and the encouragement of my family I might never now been enjoying the career of my dreams. It is so true what people say. You could be on the cusp of finding success, just when things get really tough.


me don't give up


I have four books under my bed that – quite rightly – will never see the light of day. However Mistletoe Mansion was written before my debut Doubting Abbey. My agent and I just couldn’t find a home for it – but it eventually found a publisher who believed in the story and was a Christmas bestseller. So each individual rejection is just that and doesn’t represent the view of everyone else.

It is hard, sending work out, receiving it back unenjoyed. My very first submission, years ago, was to the Darley Anderson Agency. It flew straight back, just before that Christmas, with a standard rejection letter. I can smile now at my dejection. Naively I thought the hard bit was writing the novel. How wrong I was. Trying to bag an agent or publisher is when the real graft starts. And last year I signed with one of their agents.

I can also smile at the times I would flounce off social media, announcing that I needed a break, telling myself that writing was not for me. But the passion gets a grip. It’s like a switch. Once it’s been turned on and you experience the joy of crafting a sentence, paragraph or chapter that you are pleased with, the light just can’t be switched off again.

So, in the end I gave in to my calling. And now I am so glad I did. The years of tears were worth it, despite the new set of challenges that publishing offers such as bad reviews and deadlines!

So I would say, listen to your heart. It will tell you if you really can abandon your dream. And if the answer is no, you are signing up to a writing life for better or for worse, just remember the wise words of the great Samuel Beckett:

“Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”



  1. Pamela Strange says:

    I have written six books which are on line. And several factual ones. 4 are in print. As an indie author I use ebooks mostly.But am not making much money so I would like an agent/publisher to take over my latest book now in final edit after RNA review.
    Writing is my life now that I am no longer able to dash around so fast -face book is a way of contacting my writing friends. Going to conferences is fun you meet really interesting people..I won over fifty plus short story competition last year so have entered again this year. Mysterious Master was short listed for an award at the festival. And I wouldn’t dream of giving up. I still hope to write a best seller before I drop off my twig. My horror story sells the best witchcraft during WW2. I find that fact fascinating.

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Gosh, Pamela – I am surprised you have time to breathe! Well done on all your success. What a diverse writer you are. Yes, writing does kind of take over, doesn’t it? It is a real calling. And Facebook is great for connecting with similar souls. Wishing you continued success šŸ™‚
      Sam x

  2. Wendy Clarke says:

    Since I started writing, I have never once given in to the desire to stop. I set a goal then go for it until it is achieved. This year’s goal was to get an agent for my novel. It would have been easy to have given up after the first few rejections but just as I was thinking, ‘will anyone ever want this?’ I received that lovely email we all long for. So you’re absolutely right, you never know what’s around the corner.

    • Sam Tonge says:

      And I’m still holding out for the Hollywood film deal Wendy šŸ™‚ Although, I think the key is to have realistic expectations as well. But yes, goals are important and determination is as important as talent..
      Sam x

  3. Alex Martin says:

    Just what I needed to hear today. Almost gave up recently, glad I didn’t, because finishing the first draft of my current book was the best fun I’d had all winter.

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Good for you, Alex. I nearly gave up so many times. I just think you have to try and keep goals realistic and realize that only a handful of artists – singers, writers, painters – find success overnight. The rest of us have to graft hard. Best of luck with your book!
      Sam šŸ™‚

  4. Sue Blackburn says:

    Inspiring as always Sam. And glad you didn’t give up cos we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading your lovely books! Just finished How to Get Hitched and I loved it. Smashing characters and a wonderful feelgood story.
    My goal was to get accepted by PF and so very many times I nearly gave up. It was my daughter who said you don’t know how near you are to an acceptance Mum. And then I got my first acceptance from them and what a dream come true. I’ve now had 23!! That was my goal, I thought I’d die happy if I got ONE acceptance but like you, I don’t think I could give up writing now despite the roller coaster ride it is. And without my writing I’d never have made so many wonderful, supportive on line friends.
    I’m so very grateful I never gave up šŸ™‚ xx

    • Sam Tonge says:

      That is just how I feel, Sue – it is a scary thought, that we could have given up just before the moment we were finally going to find success. It all seems so hopeless sometimes when the rejections pile in.
      23?! Well done, that is amazing!
      Aw, thanks, so glad you liked Mikey and the crew šŸ˜€
      Sam xx

      • Sue Blackburn says:

        Thanks Sam. Compared to some other prolific writers that total isn’t great but it pleases me no end teehee!!
        Just got to crack the other mags now – and I WILL! xx

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