September 15, 2010 by Renee
Ah, rejection. You know, I don’t recall experiencing rejection very often in my life. Not until I started writing for publication. Who’d have thought it would become a daily thing? I sure didn’t. In fact, it’s so common, I barely flinch anymore. What? No, you don’t want it? Okay, on to the next one.
Is it possible to get a positive rejection? Is that an oxymoron? A few months ago, I’d have said that there is nothing positive or good about a rejection. It’s heartbreaking, soul shattering and infuriating all at once. But now, with time and perspective I see that yes, you can take something positive from nearly every rejection you receive.
First, if they reply, be grateful. Not grateful as in groveling at their feet, but grateful as in, “Well, that was nice of them to take the time.” because most don’t bother sending the email to say thanks but no thanks. Their slush pile is way too high to bother. So if you get a letter (not one of those irritating form letters) then you did something at least right enough to make them feel the need to contact you.
Second, if the publisher/agent offers critique, do a dance, and then use their advice. Critiques almost NEVER happen. If they thought enough of the story or the writing to offer suggestions, then take the damn advice. That’s rare. I’m jealous.
Third, approach the whole process with optimism. Put a positive spin on things. This rejection letter means you aren’t waiting to hear from this person anymore so you can move to the next. Strike them off the list and move on. Look at it as a journey. Each rejection means you move a step ahead, on to someone/something new and better. Sounds hokey and possibly even a little stupid, but I promise it works.
Of course, you’ll have your down days. I have moments of utter despair and doubt where I am so tempted to throw in the towel, dust off my resume and go out and get a ‘real’ job, but I usually talk myself out of it. I mean, what other job lets me sit around in my jammies all day, drink copious amounts of coffee and never brush my hair? Not that I do that. Of course not. I at least brush my hair by noon.
What brought this cheerleading, you can do it post on? I recently received a rejection for “I Do and Other Lies We Tell” from a small publisher I was sure would love it. (big sigh) However, I was mistaken. They did not love it, well not the way they needed to. But here’s the positive part; I was sent a very personal, very nice and well thought out letter explaining that while the characterization was great, the writing at a level they appreciated, etc. it just wasn’t the right fit for what they were putting out there. It sounds like a form rejection, but it was not. There was more, but you don’t want to read two pages of rejection, do you? Too bad.
This was an indie publisher, rather new and as they are still pushing to grow and establish themselves, they have a certain vision for what they publish. I Do was too commercial…? This confused me, as agents who get this manuscript don’t seem to feel it’s commercial enough. (GRRRR!) But, what’s important here is that the manuscript is good. I knew it was and that’s not conceit. I worked damn hard to make it so. The letter confirms I’m not delusional either. They liked it, and thought enough of me and my writing to take the time to write a very pleasant and almost apologetic letter. So it was easy to say “Oh well, one down, a million to go. Onward!”
I didn’t really say that. It was more like, “Well shit, back at it.” I figure with the manuscripts I’ve completed since finishing I Do, I should get there in half the time I would have submitting just one around. By the time I manage to convince someone to take a chance, I’ll have a stack of the little buggers ready to go.
Positive thinking. See how that works? Yes, sometimes alcohol works too but it’s tough to type with the shakes.