Rejection sucks. Everyone knows that. But as writers, we’re used to it, right? I know I’ve had my share—from my first ever critique partner who thought my first draft was so bad he couldn’t possibly continue, to dozens of agents, a large handful partials and fulls—I’ve had ‘em all.
At first they hurt, like real bad. Then my skin started to thicken, and I didn’t let them bother me so much. But that’s not to say rejection didn’t affect me. The reason I queried my publisher instead of tackling another round of literary agents is because I wasn’t quite up to hearing the same old thing from the same old people. Not that I expected any different from Sapphire Star, mind you, but it would have been rejection at a whole new level, and maybe it would be an experience I could actually learn from. Maybe I’d get real, constructive feedback.
Well, you know the story already; it all worked out for me. So at that point, I thought I’d be safe from rejection, at least for a little while anyway. Yeah, right! See, if you have a book coming to market, you want to give it a leg up. You want to put on a nice shine that sparkles in the sun, that’ll attract attention like metal to a magnet. I figured a good way to do that would be to have an author endorsement or blurb on my book’s cover. But how do you get one? That’s right, you got it—you query.
It’s a whole new round of letters to authors you love and admire but don’t typically know, at least not personally. I found just coming up with more than a handful of worthy names a challenge in itself. My publisher suggested I start with a list of at least twelve, which made me giggle, albeit a bit hysterically. With the occasional exception, I tend to read the same authors over and over. What can I say, I’m loyal. But having a limited list meant my chances weren’t good, and I found that a bit depressing. My publisher said not to worry. They’d provide a praise page— reviewer blurbs—if I came up empty, which I was sure I would.
I wrote seven letters to my all-time favorite published authors. I was just hoping to get an answer, a return email. And I did. I received two emails which were so incredibly kind that I didn’t care that they had rejected me. The next morning, I woke up to a third, this one polite, though curt.
Then came my first acceptance! I was so happy, I cried, especially considering who I was asking. I thought, that’s it, that’s all I need. I’m totally happy. But then I received another yes, from a NY Times bestselling author, no less. And he was so humble, only too happy to accommodate me. Wow! That’s all I could say. WOW!!
(No, this isn't the actual blurb!)
So I’m set now. How cool is that? Pretty damn cool I think. Yeah, I never did hear back from those remaining authors, one of whom is my all-time number one favorite, whose collection of fourteen bestsellers sit front and center on my library shelves. But I’m okay with that. Rejection helps keep me humble.
And it’s a lesson, a good one: when you’re a writer, rejection never ends, no matter which phase you’re currently in. I’m sure I’ll have my fair share of the ultimate rejection—the crappy review. But I’m cool with that, too. I know this business is subjective, and I can never make everyone happy. Besides, it’ll just make me work all the harder next time.
So what have you learned from rejection? Does it still hurt, or does it slide off your back like eggs on Teflon?