What a Reject!


If there is one thing I’ve earned through the process of writing thus far it is thick skin. I have only been submitting my manuscript for around three months. I’ve received eight rejections and about half as many no-replies which in mathematical terms is equal to a rejection. I remember waiting so long for my first reply that I was thrilled to get my first rejection. It was a form of communication, from a real agent! I’ve become interested in the different methods of rejection. Most are polite form letters that gently regard the sensitive soul of the author. One even mentioned the name of my book on lovely parchment. It was a beautiful sight. I found that the initial luster of receiving a piece of paper touched by the determiner of my fate had faded. I grew tired of the delicate dismissals and found myself wanting a good reaming. Tell me WHY! And here it came, in the most mild of forms. My most recent rejection was more direct – “I didn’t connect with your writing.” At first I responded by shrugging and quickly closing the message but I was surprised by the emotions that followed. I burning sensation – was it embarrassment? The urge to cry? Anger? Perhaps all three combined. I had to open the email and read it again….and again, trying to read into the words. I don’t know which is more torturous, not knowing at all why you’ve been rejected or being given only a glimpse of why you been rejected. It’s that feeling you get when you ask your best friend, “Does this make me look fat?” and there’s that cock-eyed pause before the answer.

Rejections are the growing pains of an author. When you start to look at them less as rejections and more as a shoe fitting, the process becomes more tolerable. You might try on twenty pairs before you find those Jimmy Choos that are both fabulous and comfortable! When the process is over I may resemble a thick skinned Armadillo but I will be the Armadillo with super stellar kicks!

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17 thoughts on “What a Reject!

  1. This is so good: “It’s that feeling you get when you ask your best friend, “Does this make me look fat?” and there’s that cock-eyed pause before the answer.”

    I, for one, can connect to your blog writing. 🙂 Another blogger I follow wrote along the same lines this week ( http://latte-confidential.com/2012/11/28/fuel-my-fire/ ) and I’ve been thinking a lot about taking risks lately. Nothing worth having is easy to get, right?

  2. I can certainly see how rejection letters can be painful at first. However, developing a thick skin? Sounds necessary! Kudos to the shoe-fitting metaphor. It gives not-yet rejected writers like moi a look-see into the future.

    Keep writing, keep blogging.

  3. My most recent rejection was, “This piece isn’t for us. Good luck with this.” And after two weeks, I can’t stop wondering what they hell the woman meant by, “Good luck with this.” Does that mean the piece sucked? “Good luck with this.” Does that mean she doesn’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell it will ever see print? It’s so funny… I want feedback, but when it comes, I can’t help but analyze it to death. But the more often I submit work, the less painful the rejections are, for me anyway. Now I just get impatient that my work is tied up for so long while I’m waiting for a decision. But the first rejection was like a knife through my heart.

    • Know the feeling! My favorite part is trying to decide if it’s a form letter or actual thoughts from an agent. My last rejection (one of three in the same day…OUCH) said “While I think your work is marketable I do not feel I can represent it at this time.” Form letter?

  4. My first rejection letter was personalized, and was so rude. She may as well have said, “See ya’. Wouldn’t wanna be ya’.” In fact, it might have been kinder if she’d said that! But, her rejection caused me to approach another publisher, and my book was accepted right off the bat, as well as the second one. So, by rejecting my work, she actually made me end up in a better place in the long run. I’ve also found that waiting for acceptance or rejection of a piece makes me step back from it and see ways I could have made it better. So, even if it’s rejected, I can tweak it before I submit elsewhere. It’s all good. And of course we know that most writers don’t succeed, simply because they give up! Isn’t there a saying in sales: something like, “You have to be cutting bait, fishing, and reeling them in all at the same time.” Create, write, edit, submit, resubmit… And never give up.

    • So you have solicited straight to the publisher? I’ve only been able to find one publisher so far who accepted unsolicited manuscripts-McAdam/Cage. Can I ask who you sent your manuscripts to?

  5. Dear Margie: So sorry it took me so long to answer. Christmas is time-consuming!
    Do you subscribe to http://www.writersmarket.com ? It’s a wealth of information. Just today they listed three publishers who welcome direct queries.
    I have other info re: publishers, but could help you more if I knew in which genre you write.
    Also, signing up with Writers Market will advise you of numerous competitions, plus give you some pretty cool downloads. (Free) I entered the 81st Annual Writers Digest Competition, and won an award in Memoir/Essay. There are so many opportunities out there.

  6. I hope you succeed Margie and thanks for the visit. Yep – it’s a long hard road to travel unless you’re J.K.R or the likes thereof.
    I went down the rejection line – “Yes send the REST of your manuscript” – weeks later “Though you write with humour, warm and honesty we are Not taking on any further commitments at this time”. That’s why I went down the EPub route, not for fame or fortune (though I wouldn’t knock that back) but I KNOW somewhere, someone in this world we live in, liked how the synopsis read and bought it. The 1st I sold I was floored, someone bought it? “Fess up family”, but no it was someone unknown to me. THAT is what we write for.
    The critique even the rejections are to make you stronger albeit like having a blade slicing your gut 😦 Good Luck and keep going!

  7. Oh, rejections are such fun! I enjoyed the first one thinking it was an anomaly but by the third I really didn’t like them much anymore. One from a Knopf editor just had the words “Has potential” written on my manuscript. That didn’t help me much. The danger sometimes when you get agents and editors telling you what’s wrong you end up screwing up what’s right! What rejection letters taught me was that I was far too amenable to other people’s wishes. At one point I think I took out almost everything I loved about my book!!! Then I had a mini nervous breakdown and put it all back!

      • I’m going the indie writer route and so happy about it. I hated how I chopped my book apart to please these invisible others–I actually received a few phone calls from legit agencies–with advice, some of it good, some not. In the end I went with my gut. My book is a bit of a monster–being over 600 pages and the agents and publishers were concerned about the size, but the real people who’ve read it want more and cried when they were supposed to cry, etc, so….wish me luck. I’m editing the final proof today and the hard copy will be for sale soon : The House on Tenafly Road. Good luck for you too!

      • I admire the stamina to pursue the indie route. I have a friend self publishing. I know it’s probably no worse than the constant barrage of negative feed back the query route provides but I know for a fact it requires extensive research. I wish you all the luck in the world! Sounds like an interesting read!!!

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