We regret to inform you. Does not fit our needs. I just didn’t fall in love with it. We are not sure how to break it out. Although you are a talented writer…
No matter how they phrase that letter, it all comes down to one word.
And for an author who has lived for the past days/weeks/months with crossed fingers and high hopes, those words from your dream editor will make you swoon with disappointment.
They do not want your book. Your book has been rejected. And in fact, your writer brain will instantly decide, that means YOU have been rejected.
You stink. You are a terrible writer. You should never have done this. You are a miserable failure. You should ditch the whole writing thing and become a, a, whatever. Anything but a writer—which you clearly aren’t—and you have been living in a state of sheer and utter self-delusion.
And how will you face everyone?
You read the rejection again, searching for some small bit of hope. Nope. It’s still no.
But listen. Trust me. It does not mean a thing.
Come on, Hank. Get real.
Well, it does mean something, of course. It means that one particular editor did not read that one particular manuscript and love it enough to buy it. And Career Author Dana will certainly be discussing that at some point.
But a career author has to be realistic. A career author understands there are tens of thousands of submissions. And tens of thousands of rejections. You’ll get to yes. You simply must have the perseverance to get there. How do I know?
Hanks’s rejection letters
Here’s an excerpt from my first rejection letter,
“Thank you for sending us Prime Time,” the editor wrote to my agent. “I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Hank has really nailed the newsroom setting, and the voice is wonderful.”
Guess what word comes next?
Here’s another one for PRIME TIME.
“This is a bit light for my taste, but I like the writer’s style. Does she do any non-fiction?”
And how about:
“Although PRIME TIME is excellent and we love the voice, we cannot think of a way to break it out in the market.”
I was devastated. Crying. I wailed to my husband, infinitely disappointed, “My book will never be published!”
Wrong. PRIME TIME, was eventually published by MIRA, and won the Agatha for Best First Novel. (I’m now writing book 11.)
A savvy author—a career author!—has to understand it’s not always about your book. And it’s certainly not about you! What you sent may simply not be what the editor is looking for. Or can afford.
It’s all about blue pants
For instance (and you’ll hear me tell this story when we meet on the road) let’s say you’re going for a job interview, and you need gray pants. You only have the budget for one pair of pants. You find a great pair of pants in the store, but they’re blue. They’re beautiful. They fit perfectly. But they will not work with your outfit because they are blue. You love them, but you cannot afford them, and they do not meet your needs. Ah.
The blue pants are—rejected.
And it’s the same with your manuscript. Maybe you have sent the editor blue pants, and the editor is only looking for gray.
However! Someone else will need blue pants, right? You just have to keep trying, and keep searching for that perfect person.
You have to hear no before you hear yes
And listen, there’s not a writer on the planet, this one or any other, who has not been rejected, again and again and again. Might you need to re-edit, try harder, re-work, think again about your first chapters? Tweak your query letter? Maybe. And those are posts for other days.
Should I tell you how many times JK Rowling was rejected? John LeCarre? Stephen King? But you know this. You’re just wallowing in your rejection dejection, and you’ve forgotten that particular bit of information.
But hey. When you get the big “No”? Celebrate. Pat yourself on the back for putting yourself out there. You have to hear no before you hear yes—and now you are one step closer.
Do you have rejection stories? Come chat with me on our Facebook page!
Now. Get writing.