Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R is for... Rejection

It's apt that R comes after Q, because after querying, comes rejection. And rejection is the hardest thing about being a writer... Well, maybe not. Revising is pretty hard too a lot of the time.

Rejection hurts. You throw your heart and soul into your work, write the best book you possibly can, and finally, after years of work, are ready to send your baby out into the world. If you're like me, those first few queries were sent with such hope. You know your book is amazing. Everyone's going to love it!

Then the rejection notes start trickling in. Usually just a line or two: 'thanks, but I don't feel this is the best fit with me', 'thanks, but I don't feel I'm the right advocate for your work', 'thanks, but no thanks'.

Self-doubt starts creeping in along with the steady stream of rejection. Am I any good? Is my book crap? Should I just give up and take up bowling instead? It's at this point many writers give up.

But you shouldn't. Do you love every book you read? When you go to a library or bookstore, how many cover-blurbs do you read before you pick a book to take home? The agents reading your query letter are human and have their own personal tastes. Even if you've done your research (and you have done research before sending off your query, right?) you can't guarantee any individual is going to connect to your book. Maybe the query isn't right and you need to go back and tweak it. Maybe the agent got four other queries on similar topics that day. Maybe they already have a book about clinically depressed angels coming out that year.

The trick is not to give up. Sure, allow yourself a moment or two to feel sad, but pick yourself up, pick another agent and take another stab at it. Write a new query letter and try again. Just don't quit. If you know your book is good, then in the end, someone else will recognize that too.

At least, that's what we all hope. And in the meantime? Write another book.

How do you deal with rejection?


  1. I just shrug rejections off. If I took it personally every time I got one I would be a quivery pile of jelly. I agree that "write another book" is great advice. I've got so many ideas that I can fall back on to keep me busy.

  2. Intellectually I know I shouldn't take it personally, but that doesn't mean those rejections don't hurt. You work, you work, you work, and maybe one day you succeed. Maybe not. But, the maybe is enough to keep me going.

  3. I haven't gotten to the query stage yet but I've read this advice time and again and I hope some of it is sinking in. I hope that by the time I query I am ready for the rejections and take any advice on board and keep at it and keep believing in my work. Thank you for a great post.

  4. Every time I got a rejection, I sent out a new query. :)

    Sorry to hear about your rejection, but as a cheer up I'm just letting you know you won a copy of Invincible Summer at my blog. If you could email your snail-mail addy to jessica @ that'd be great. I'd really like to get the copies to count toward her opening week sales. :)