EP. 32 | Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai on Facing Rejection When You Write about a Hard Topic

My novel was rejected by so many publishers because it deals with very horrible topics. It deals with death, with  rape, with war, with agent orange, with mass murder, executions… Of course there’s a sense of hope and lots of love, and family bonds… but people have to confront the horror of all the evil and horror to be able to find kindness and compassion. They have to go through a lot of darkness to see the light and they have to become vulnerable together with my characters. So this book is not a fun read, it’s a serious read. So I think a lot of editors thought they wouldn’t be able to sell it.


What to do when you write about hard, complex topics that not everyone will want to read about? Like Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai says in this extract, it’s all about the author’s perseverance.

It’s up to the writer herself or himself to believe in her or his own work… If you believe in your own work you never feel the desperation, because there is a fire that burns inside of you  and keeps you going. You don’t have to depend on other people to tell you that your story is important, because you know it is important.


Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Finding your inner-strength as a writer to cope with rejection.
  • Understanding that you may be writing about a complicated, hard topic and that may mean it may take you longer to find a publisher.

Connect with Quế Mai:

Website / Twitter Instagram / FaceBook

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

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