Publishing is a hard business and sometimes it’s nice to know others have gone this road before you and survived! And today I’d like to talk about the
$@#!& cursed awful rotten inevitable rejection letter.
You’ve done it. Finished your first (second or third) novel and sent it off to the editor or agent of your dreams. And now you wait. Since this one will be such a best seller you don’t want to waste precious time and you get started on your next novel. The words are just flying onto the page when the letter or email arrives. “Sorry, but this isn’t for us …”
It hurts. It feels like someone told you your baby was ugly. Well, what do they know? So you package it up again and send it out. Good for you! But then the next round of rejections comes back and now you’ve slowed down in the progress of your next book. Why bother? The whole world is publishing except you. But dang, everyone who read your manuscript thought it was wonderful. Maybe they only liked it because they love you, except old Mrs. Harrington, your mother’s hairdresser, but she didn’t like the last Nora Roberts block buster either … so she doesn’t count.
So now what?
Whatever you do next … don’t give up.
First, step back and make sure you did indeed send your manuscript to the right people. Does that agent represent mystery writers? Does that publisher sell paranormals? Did your word count fit their criteria? There are many reasons manuscripts are rejected. If you didn’t receive a form letter, did the agent/editor make any helpful recommendations? If they did, look at them closely and make note of them. Unless several people say the same thing, you may not want to completely rewrite the ending (or beginning or murder scene), but just keep their suggestions in mind. When several agent/editor type people point out the same mistakes, it’s time to seriously consider making the change to your manuscript.
Sometimes you receive a rejection with suggestions for rewrites and an invitation to resubmit. If this publisher/agent looks promising get down to work and take their suggestion and rewrite. This doesn’t always guarantee an acceptance letter, but it does get you one step closer.
People will tell you that letters with your name and the title of your book and perhaps some words of encouragement are “good” rejections … and they are … don’t get me wrong. It means the agent/editor found your writing compelling enough to read past the first page or two. But trust me, they sting just as badly as a form letter. Sometimes more because you know you were so darn close. It’s okay to kick gravel and shed a few tears. Because let’s face it, it’s still not a sale.
I allow myself to have a small pity-party. Sometimes for the rest of the day. Let the disappointment sink in and celebrate the positive feedback received.
But then that’s it.
The next day get back to writing. Revise, rewrite, or find a new story to work on. Whatever you do — write. Because in this business of publishing, it’s all about the PLOT … perseverance, luck, obstinance and talent. And no one got anywhere by quitting after a rejection.