The Rejection Collection

Rejection sucks. Writers everywhere moan often and loudly about the misery of receiving negative responses to their queries and submissions. I haven’t had many to deal with but that’s only because I haven’t queried much. I like the writing part best so I write, then move on to write some more. For someone who aspires to publication that’s a chicken approach, and it’s about to change.

I have a goal this year and am pursing it. I’m realistic enough to know that along the way there is going to be more rejection, so I’m saving a post of Jessica Faust’s to re-read whenever discouragement wings in and lights on my shoulder. Jessica’s Does It Get Any Better? offers encouragement, but it’s the 120+ comments that grab me. I won’t link to the commenters; you can mosey over to the BookEnds, LLC website for yourself if you want to read more, but here’s a sampling of the comments to offer a bit of wisdom if you happen to be in the process of rejection collection yourself:

  • I’ve been rejected 71 times, 16 of those with partial requests. In the beginning I … couldn’t write, couldn’t find a coherent thought if it was thrown in my face. It took me a long while to realize I was going through post-partum depression. 

I just sent my ‘baby’ out into the big wild world, unsure of what would happen. I was nervous, anxious, depressed, had incredible mood swings when the requests for partials came in and then the darkest despair when they too came back rejected. There is no magic pill. Somehow you just have to let it go. Put the queries out there and take them as they come. The best suggestion is to start another book. As hard as that sounds, it’s really been, for me, the lifesaver in all the query madness. I’m still getting rejected but at least I’m working on something else that may, in fact, be better than the last book. [Anne Gallagher]

  • It’s sometimes hard to separate your “worth” as a writer from the query process for each individual book. Don’t let the rejection/partial/full process become your validation as a writer, or you will be disappointed often. Find a support group of other writers who know what it means to sweat over a book, think it’s your absolute best work, and get nothing but no after no. It happens to us all, and I guarantee when you look at this book in six months or a year, you’ll be astonished at how much you would change in that “perfect” book. The most important thing you can do right now is start writing the next book. [Joely Sue Burkhart]

  • In the beginning, it feels like every rejection is an informed and absolute judgment on your talent, the viability of your project, and indeed, your worth as a person. But they’re not. They’re SO not. I think on some level we always think we’re going to be the exception. That as soon as we send our work out, someone will jump out and say THIS ROCKS! instead of the much more common path of rejection and disappointment and, in many cases, a long hard slog.  [Jael]

  • Rejection is never easy. It does get easier, but only as long as you accept that this is a business — the business of writing. Each query you send is simply asking: Do you want to represent this book? And each rejection is a polite (usually) ‘No, I don’t’. It is not a judgement on your ability as a writer, or on your worth as a person. It is a business decision. [Jenna Wallace]

  • rejection is gonna happen if you submit your work, but in many cases it isn’t a reflection of whether your novel is publishable, just means that you haven’t yet found the right agent to submit to. I papered my walls, literally, with rejection slips, and tried not to let them bother me because really, I was writing because I loved to write. I knew if I was never published I’d be disappointed, but I also knew writing was my passion, and immersing yourself in your passion is never a waste of time….The people who fail are the people who give up.  [Elizabeth Joy Arnold]

  • Babydoll, you absolutely have to develop thick skin and if you continue writing, believe me, you will. It’s a part of the writing life. What you’re going through right now, is what they used to say, “separates the men from the boys,” but you should now properly say, what separates the writers from the wannbees. It just happens to sound better the other way. Part of your career now is as a salesman, er, saleswoman. Rejection goes with the territory. If you can’t handle rejection, you have no business trying to be a real writer. [Brendan McNally]

  • Writing is the best distraction from query hell. [Kathleen]

  • Sure, publication is the ultimate goal, but don’t forget why you picked up the pen in the first place.  [Gemma Noon]

  • You’ll start to see rejections as a milestone, not an end marker. Remember that losing the game means you’re PLAYING the game. Many people never reach that point. Dying on safari kind of sucks, but it’s also way cooler than sitting home.  [150]
Comment excerpts from July 1, 2010 post, BookEnds, LLC blog.
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18 thoughts on “The Rejection Collection

  1. Thank you for posting these comments! They’re just what I needed lately.

  2. Cathy says:

    Inspiring as always, Carol. We all hate rejection and yet it’s part of the whole publishing game. I’d love to stay in my little bubble convinced that everything I write is great and publishable but in order to grow, I need to send some of my babies out there into the world and that means the risk of rejection. I’m better than I used to be and only wallow in self pity for a day or two. My online crit group are great for keeping me grounded in reality as well.

    I got rejected when I applied to go to a writing retreat where I would have had to pay 900 bucks and airfare. That stung a bit as and I had a pity party about that. You’d think going to a retreat wouldn’t be so competitive but apparently not. Oh well. Couldn’t really afford it anyhow. I have to keep trying to submit here and there as well as writing something new as the advice says.

    • Rejected for a retreat? Wow, that’s different, but maybe it was limited registration and they had already reached their limit??? It would be hard not to feel slighted by such a thing but it’s really nothing personal. Keep writing; keep submitting. 🙂

  3. catwoods says:

    This was way awesome. I love the quotes and the link. They are profound and thought-provoking. Inspiring to us all.

    • Glad you found it inspiring, Cat. Rejection is an emotionally devastating thing and we writers expose ourselves to it regularly, risking it because of the writing we love. It’s such a help to find others who have been there and and are willing to share what they’ve experienced and learned.

  4. I’ve heard that the following book is very helpful. I’ve only seen bits and pieces myself, but I’ve put it on my Amazon wishlist. It contains actual publisher’s rejection letters for terrible manuscripts…such as Moby Dick! Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections: A History of Insult, A Solace to Writers (Revised & Expanded)

    • Hi, Reade. Thanks for stopping by to comment. Yes, I imagine it could provide lots of consolation…. for instance, reading that John le Carré was said “to have no future” should give anyone hope! It just goes to prove that perseverance is important… don’t let rejection get in the way.

  5. joylene says:

    My second novel is being released next year, yet I’m still plagued by rejection. I should be seeking representation for my published works and for those mss not yet bought. But I’m hesitating because rejection is so painful. Better to do nothing than be overcome with pain? No. I just need to grow some courage.

  6. Rejection does suck but it is a part of life and definitely a part of writing. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It is good to know that everyone is in the same boat.

    • That’s something I love about our online writing community… there’s an immediacy to the sharing and the support. It doesn’t take long to discover that our fellow writers-on-the-journey experience the same highs and lows.

  7. Laura Best says:

    Wouldn’t it be lovely to go through life without rejection? I very much doubt that any of us expect that it won’t happen at some time or other. Even after a series of acceptances life will suddenly throw in a rejection or two to keep us humble. No matter how many times my work is accepted for publication I hope that I will never take any of these acceptances for granted.

    I have toughened myself a bit over the years but some rejections sting, others don’t. It may just be how it strikes us on a particular day.

    May you find the acceptance you’re looking for very soon!

  8. dave ebright says:

    Hi Carol – Remember me? I’m baaaack….

    “For someone who aspires to publication that’s a chicken approach, and it’s about to change.”

    Been gone for a little over a week. You’re mentioning the “chicken” approach here & Joylene’s got chicken pics all over her post. What’s going on in BC? Did I ever mention that I despise chicken. Won’t eat it. No way. Call it “yard bird” here in the south.

    There is no doubt in my mind that you can accomplish this. Anyone that can spot missing commas with such lightning speed must be agent-worthy. Even your opening to this post is great – right to the point.
    “Rejection sucks.” THAT is a great line. Can I borrow it????
    Thick skin? Eh (Canadian accent inserted) – only helpful in the tattoo shop.

    • Dave, you always make me smile! Sorry to hear you don’t like chicken… it’s one of my favourite meals (next to steak, of course). Glad my opening line caught your attention. Seems to me you liked the post that started off asking about a mosquito’s sex life, too. Good beginnings are important, but good middles and endings are, too. Hopefully I’ve been able to put all three together in my latest effort. Joylene could maybe answer to that… she’s reading it, bless her long-suffering heart.

  9. joylene says:

    You two, stop it! Do you have any idea how hard it is to cover a chicken’s ears so she doesn’t hear such blasphemy??? Eating chickens! OMG. I couldn’t possibly eat one of my dear pets.

    Yes, I’m reading Carol’s manuscript and I can attest to the fact that it is simply wonderful!

    ps. (whispering) I do actually “blank-blank” chicken, but please don’t tell anyone, especially one of the hens)

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