How to Avoid the Rejection Blues
Writers might be the most rejected people on the planet. Yep. It’s a sad fact of this passion of ours that with the urge to create stories and share them with the world comes the inevitable pile of rejections. They stalk us at every step of the process. From those oh-so kindly worded form rejection letters from agents that dent our hopeful spirits to the vicious 1-star review from the reader who just didn’t get what we were saying, rejections are a part of writing.
But don’t despair! There is hope! All of these rejections don’t have to hang like weights on your soul. I know they hurt, I know that no one wants to see them, but they don’t have to be the end of the world. We all have different strategies for coping with these disappointments, so here are a few that might just speak to you.
The most important thing to understand as you’re holding Form Rejection Letter #15 in your hand is that we’ve ALL been there. You are in the best company in the world! I know you’ve heard all the stories of how many times J.K. Rowling was rejected or how Stephen King had a spike on his wall where he skewered all his rejections. I guarantee you that every writer you love has been rejected enough times to shock you. I wish that writers would bring out their rejection letters more often, keep them in collections and swap them like trading cards even. “Oh? You were rejected by Donald Maass? Me too!” Then we could see them as the badge of honor they are.
Rejection is part of the process. That letter is a good thing because it means you’re actually trying. You are already ahead of the vast multitude of wannabes who never work up the gumption to try. You are awesome! Way to be proactive! If you knew how many people out there never even reach the point of querying or who give up after one or two rejections, you’d be astounded. But not you! You are already on the path to succeeding by virtue of being willing to put yourself out there where rejection lives.
What about those of us who managed to find an agent (oh the thrill of hope!) only to have that agent be unable to sell the book to a publisher. Ouch! The disappointment of that rejection has to be twice as hard as a simple agent rejection because the hope that preceded it was so much greater. It sucks, but the thing to remember is that publishing is such a subjective business and those fancy traditional publishing companies don’t always know what books will be a hit. The good news is that nowadays you have other options. Self-publishing is not a consolation prize anymore. It’s not the last resort of the rejected. It is a viable, legitimate, extremely profitable alternative. There are writers out there making a living and more off of books that were rejected by New York. Why? Because they didn’t give up.
Ah, but what about those icky rejections that come when you HAVE succeeded, when you’re right there in print for all the world to buy, but someone gives you a scathingly bad review? These are the most bittersweet rejections of all. They’re like enormous zits on your face – everyone is going to see them as much as you don’t want them to.
Again, every writer worth their salt has negative reviews. They are a badge of honor! They mean that you have reached that coveted audience beyond your friends and family. Strangers are reading stuff you wrote! Whether they liked it or not, you’re out there. You’re in people’s hands. That’s an amazing thing. And often, if you read those bad reviews closely, you’ll see that it’s not your talent they call into question, it’s the emotional reaction they had to the story. Not only did you reach them, you touched them as well. Maybe it was a bad reaction on their part, but their feelings were strong enough for them to tell the whole world.
I know rejection isn’t fun. It’s the pits. But keep your head held high. You are in a special group of dreamers and doers. All you need to do is keep going, keep writing, keep submitting, and keep reaching. You can do this!
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Genre - Western Historical Romance
Rating – R
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