Dealing with rejection when pursuing traditional publishing is one of the biggest challenges a new writer can face. I know this to be true because I’ve experienced my fair share of rejection as I’ve traversed this daunting path. So how do you stay strong in the face of rejection?
As I was writing my first manuscript, I never could have imaged that getting it published would be such a challenge. The truth of the matter is, I’m glad I didn’t know because had I known, I might not have had the courage to even try.
But of course I would have given up on a dream even before it had a chance to take flight. My dream of becoming a published author hasn’t been realized yet, but I’ve learned some very valuable lessons along the way that I think may be helpful to writers and serve as encouragement to those who are also pursuing the path of traditional publishing.
There’s an old adage that says misery loves company. And you know, as terrible as it sounds, there’s probably a lot of truth to it. I say this to share with you that if you have received rejections for your query letters or manuscript, you are not alone.
A number of great, well-published authors received rejections for their work before they were eventually published. Here are a few examples:
• After 5 years of continual rejection, Agatha Christie finally landed a publishing deal. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.
• John Grisham’s A Time to Kill was rejected by 16 agencies and then 12 publishers.
• Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times before it was published.
• Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times and J. K. Rowling was told “not to quit her day job.”
So there is hope for us battered and bruised souls! Below are 6 valuable lessons that I’ve learned regarding how to deal with rejection while pursuing traditional publishing. I hope they are helpful to you.
1) Keep a positive attitude.
Nothing can sap your energy and drive like having a negative attitude. When you receive a rejection, feel the disappointment. Throw a pity party if you want to. But don’t wallow in self-pity. Remember that rejection is a part of the process. Pick yourself up, and get back into the fight. You can’t win it if you’re not in it!
2) Remain focused on the end game.
The end game is being a published author; having your work published so that others can read it and enjoy it. That is the goal. Keep that goal in mind and continue to take the steps necessary to get you there. Don’t become too discouraged by the rejections to continue moving forward.
3) Take feedback as an opportunity to improve.
Getting specific feedback from a literary agent or editor regarding the reason your work was rejected is invaluable. Try not to take the feedback as a negative, but a positive to improve your manuscript.
4) Celebrate small successes.
When positive things happen in your writing journey, celebrate those successes. When a literary agent requests sample chapters. That’s great. Celebrate! When your full manuscript is requested by a literary agent — score! Celebrate! You’re one step closer to becoming published.
5) Be persistent! Keep moving forward.
Don’t let rejections derail your forward movement. Look at them as a set-up for a comeback. In a great book I read, entitled, How to Write a Damn Good Mystery, the author, James N. Frey said, “You might be astonished to hear this, but most writers who finish a damn good mystery send out a few queries to agents and, when their work is turned down, put the manuscript in a drawer and never look at it again. I have seen this happen hundreds of times. A talented writer has a damn good story written with damn good prose, but after one or two rejections, there it goes into the damn drawer. Makes me crazy.”
This revelation gave me the determination not to be one of those writers.
6) Keep the faith!
Have faith in yourself as a writer. And have faith that the Creator is BIG enough to make BIG things happen in your life!
So, what about you? What has been your experience regarding rejection while pursing traditional publishing? How do you stay positive? Drop me a line or two. I’d love to hear from you.