March 14, 2006 | It's All About Writing

You’ve been hounding your postal carrier for weeks, begging for The Letter, the one that’s going to put you on the road to success. Nothing. Again. Today. But wait! What’s that stuck inside the newspaper advertisement you usually toss in the recycle bin without reading? Holy Royalties, Batman! It’s from the publisher. Correction. It’s from your publisher.

With shaking hands you tear open the envelope and draw out the letter. Hey wait! Where’s the contract? You spread the envelope apart, praying it’s stuck inside. Nada. Okay, okay, they’re probably going to send it after you accept their offer.

Grinning ear-to-ear you flip the letter over and read,

“Dear Author,
We are sorry to inform you…”

Yep, that’s pretty much how a rejection letter starts off. So what are you going to do about it? Sit there and cry? Gorge yourself on junk food until you’re ready to puke? Those reactions are typical. Very few writers entertain thoughts of suicide. And if you do, baby, you need some serious help.

This is the best advice I can give you on rejection; Get Over It. No one likes a whiner.

Sure no one likes to be rejected, be it from a lover, friend, or an editor. But there’s ways to retain your rationale without going over the edge.

Read your rejection again, after you come back surface from your blue period. If it’s a form rejection, without a real clue as to why your book was deep-sixed, then you’ll need to talk with someone in your writer’s or critique group for insight.

If you are fortunate enough to have an explanation of the rejection, study it. Learn from it. Editors are not evil. They don’t wake up every morning and plan which writers to destroy as they prepare for work. Editors want talented writers with a fresh voice. They are all looking for that one author who can help make the editor’s career. They want you to be the one.

Treat your rejection as a challenge. Frame it and hang it right over your desk. Look at it everyday and promise yourself you will do better. Then make it happen. Read your story again, edit it again, fix the problem areas and make it shine. When you are positive it’s the best you ever wrote, ship that baby right back out the front door. It’s just like falling off a bike; you have to get back on to overcome the fear.

Happy Writing!

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6 Responses to “OH CRAP!”

  1. Beth Anderson Says:

    One of my favorite rejections was from an agent who had specifically said he ONLY would accept a one page query letter. He was VERY definite about that. So I send him his One Page Query.

    He sends me this rejection that says, in part, “I’m sorry to have to reject this, it sounds really intrigueing, but as you know, I can hardly learn anything about your writing when I don’t have the manuscript.”

    I figured he was drunk.

    Another favorite was one I received a year and a half after I sent the full mss to a publisher At Her Request, then sold it to another publisher. It was published and had won five awards by the time her untimely rejection letter arrived with a three page diatribe on everything she objected to about the book, never dreaming it was already an award winning novel. 😉

    I figured she was drunk too.

    Gotta love ’em. But this IS a subjective business, so as Sloane says, keep sending those queries and partials and manuscripts out.


  2. Sloane Says:

    You do have some strange luck! From frustration to elation, makes you wonder why we chose this profession.

  3. Yasmine Says:

    Did we choose this profession, or did the damn thing chose us? I could make more money at Fields just hanging out and spraying unsuspecting customers with the newest cologne. They’d let me work in the Louis Vuitton department. God knows, I’ve got enough of the stuff. One rejection I received was someone else’s, in my SASE envelope.

  4. For The Trees Says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t choose this field of endeavor. It was visited upon me by a Comic God. A God with a Sense Of Humor. Why ELSE would I be Bipolar AND verbally talented?

    Yeah, it chose me. And so far, I’ve done reasonably well with it, in spite of all the fish.

  5. Jenna Says:

    My ritual for the PFO letter? Get riproaring drunk then bad mouth whoever sent me the PFO letter. Because, we all know, I write gold. Gold baby! *snort* Oh except for one manuscript that one an publisher contest then I read their books and I was all “Please reject my book, please reject my book.” As my books’ cousins were…wonky. I was rejected “too dark” Pffft and eventually the publisher disappeared. Oh and for the romantic comedy I wrote that sucked and when they said “This did not tickle our funny bone” (pffft) I flung the letter over my shoulder and said “That’s okay, neither do your books” then I called Kate who received the same letter.

    I much prefer “Jenna, your story thoroughly rocked our world.” in a letter, I must say.

  6. Sloane Says:

    Ah, my talented collegues, I find it hard any of you would ever let a rejection letter do more than spur you on. Each of you has a unique style and a glorious sense of humor that keeps me smiling.

    Yasmine, I think your DH would croak if you worked in Field’s. Tooooo many gadgets and LV to spend those hard earned spray dollars on.

    Forrest, have you considered USING your Bipolar to enhance your writing? You have the condition therefore you are an expert on it. You could give talks, write a self-help book, articles for medical journals and columnists. Your limits are endless on this subject and there’s a bunch of dollars with your name on them waiting for you to produce.

    Jenna, any publisher who would reject your writing is an asshole, plain and simple.

    I must agree, writing chose us and I’ve always believed God has a fantastic sense of humor!