Monday, May 21, 2012

Rejection at Every Stage



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?

       

48 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is really cool! I only asked one author and he never sent me a blurb although he was sent a book. Never really thought of asking others since my publisher always gets reviews for the back cover, but it's a good idea. See, you're already smarter than me.

Lynda R Young said...

Yep, the first few rejections are tough. Along with the ones that come in clusters--I'd rather get them spaced out ;) But you're right. The skin does get thicker.
Congrats on getting the endorsement!! How awesome!!

jp said...

In all aspects of life fear of rejection is far worse than the actual rejection.

Fear of rejection casts doubts and kills motivation. To me rejection just makes me more determined to prove something/someone wrong 'you have rejected me, your loss!'.

Sarah said...

That is an absolutely fabulous blurb quote!! Congratulations on that, and on reaching out in the first place.

I just think of rejection as part of this business. Nothing I write will be adored by everyone, and many things I write will be adored by only a few. As long as I feel like I'm moving forward and improving my writing, I'm ok with that.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome that you got a blurb. I didn't know how those were set up. Thanks for sharing. And yes, rejection is a drag.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Rejection still hurts at any stage, although eventually you recover faster from it, and you learn not to go looking at it. In the two years since my first book was released, I learned to stop reading the reviews on Goodreads. Not that they were all bad, but they were so random. Someone would give it 2 stars and a lovely review, and somebody else would give it 4 stars and yet write something lukewarm and critical.

Wow, I didn't know you had to go looking for your own cover blurbs. I thought the publisher set those up. I wonder if I've got that to face in the months ahead. Yikes!

S.P. Bowers said...

Congrats on getting the blurbs! I think we do get used to rejection but I don't think we should (or could) get so used to it that it doesn't affect us at all. I think that's a good thing, as you said it keeps us humble and always striving to be better.

Nancy Thompson said...

A publisher may set up or ask for blurbs for their authors. My pub asked if I would prefer they do it, and while that would have been nice & much easier, I think another author would prefer to hear from me personally rather than my publisher, so I sucked it up & did it myself.

JeffO said...

It never gets easier, does it? I think writing the book might be the easiest part of this whole publishing thing! Congrats on getting someone to do it for you!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Congratulations for the ones that you received, Nancy! I have never submitted anything yet, so I haven't been rejected on my work. A couple of years ago I was rejected by a group of bloggers though and that made me feel really bad. It did pave the way to many other neat folks and helped me figure out which direction I wanted to head with my blog, so all is well that ends well.

Kathy M.

Heather M. Gardner said...

You are a mover and a shaker! Well done. I know it wasn't easy but at least you tried and succeeded. I hope you're writing all this down for yourself for book two.
You may hear back from that other author too. If they are really popular they may have not gotten to read all their mail yet!
When can you put your title up on Goodreads so we can put it on our TBR pile?

Annalisa Crawford said...

I think my skin is so thick now, I've forgotten it's supposed to sting a bit. I just move on to the next submission.

As for the endorsements, that's so cool, especially when they come from people you admire - well done!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Even with some acceptances under my belt for short stories and poetry, rejection still stings. I try not to let it, and keep going, but I can't seem to ignore it entirely.

Jacqueline Howett said...

Congrats on the endorsements. Nice to know you were able to do this yourself.

Eva Gallant said...

Wow! That's exciting! Good for you!

Nancy Thompson said...

I'm not sure, Heather, but I'll ask my pub. Thanks!

Cassie Mae said...

I never even thought about that! But that positive outdoes the negative for sure. I'd cry too!

Carrie Butler said...

Woohoo, Nancy!

I've started associating rejections with break time. I stop writing and watch one of my favorite movies or TV shows. It provides a nice distraction, and I get a chance to recharge. :)

Brian Labrom said...

Good work! Just dropping by as I am still catching up with the aftermath of my first A-Z challenge.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's a catch-22 situation. Writers are sensitive, and sensitive people get hurt. Rejection is like death. You think you can avoid it, yet it still manages to sneak up on you.

When my editor asked Gail Bowen to do the blurb for my book, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. If you're not sure who Gail Bowen is, Wendy Crewson stars in the series based on Gail's books.

I think rejection should be embraced. I also enjoy cleaning the bathroom.

Chris Fries said...

What an inspiring post, Nancy!

And congratulations on the successful blurb acquisitions! ;^)

I'm really looking forward to seeing your book!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Even one author quote is great. I was thrilled when author Darien B. Cooper gave me a quote for my self-help book.

Liza said...

It pays to remember that one victors wipes out a boat-load of rejection. Congrats on your author endorsements.

L.G.Smith said...

Oh, that's cool they wrote back and said yes. I've never even written an author a letter before to tell them how much I love their novel. Don't know how I'd cold query them for a favor. Good for you.

Nick Wilford said...

That was really interesting. I'm glad you stuck your neck out. They probably get approached for these by publishers all the time, so it was a nice change for them. But you're right - rejection never ends. I suppose if you managed to please everyone, you would never feel any need to improve. Great post!

Jasmine Walt said...

That's really awesome! Must be great to get blurbs from authors you really love for your book! Yes, rejection does suck but it's something everyone has to deal with whether they write or not.

LOVE the new blog layout, by the way! <3

Jemi Fraser said...

Pretty damn cool for sure! How awesome that you had such nice responses!!! :)

I'm still working on toughening my skin - it's far too thin!!

Chuck said...

I am sure if I were to ever write something worthy of maybe being published or even read...I would not be near a tough as you. Rejection is too personal and I doubt I would take it well...I am a defiant one afterall. Congrats on the success! Fair warning, I am going to read your book!

Melissa Sugar said...

Congratulations on your endorsement. You have an awesome attitude.

Mark Koopmans said...

Look at you go... I would of *SO* let the publisher arrange that, but after reading your post and response to comments, I'm like, dang if Nance can do it (and she's a gurl) then I can do it, too:)~

Hmmm, only one problem... don't have a publisher yet :)

But am now starting to make a list for when... :)

mmshaunakelley said...

"When you're a writer, rejection never ends!" SO true! A really good, encouraging post. Thanks for sharing, and for stopping by my blog.

Carrie-Anne said...

I hated the rejections I got when I was querying way too briefly originally in 2000-01, esp. the ones that were just returned to sender unopened. I got a thicker skin when I started again last spring. Even if you get over a hundred rejections, the only thing that matters is one yes.

Chuck said...

Nancy, please drop by and pick up a little something I have for you. Thanks!

Elana Johnson said...

Congrats on your achievements! I do think rejection is part of the business, but I'd be lying if I said it slid off my back, no wounds inflicted. It still hurts.

Melodie Wright said...

Yay!! Happy for you. So you already have your blurbs? Or you're waiting on them to read and then review? I've often wondered how a blurb would work if a contacted author hated the book. I'm pretty immune to rejection - just makes me grumble over wasted time - but that possibility totally makes me nervous.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm so glad your perseverance paid off! These are all great lessons for you to teach your son! Julie

Jessica L. Foster said...

Wow I never realized that rejections come after the book is accepted for publication. Your book sounds awesome. Congratulations.

M Pax said...

Congrats, Nancy. True. The rejection never stops. Our skins thicken. Sometimes things still sting. I let them go quicker than I used to. The Husband Unit may have a different opinion on that though. lol

Lisa Regan said...

My mind is so fried I thought I already commented on this. Yeah, how about that? Who knew we'd still have to deal with rejection after the contract? But it's not that bad this time, at least for me. I'm not looking forward to bad reviews but on the other hand, if you read it and disliked it, at least you read it!!! Mwah hah hah!

tfwalsh said...

That is awesome you got a response... and very exciting. Well done.

Julie Musil said...

It is SO cool that you got acceptances from two of your writing heroes. That's another good lesson for writers...to remember where they came from. You know?

Ciara said...

I've had friends that have asked NY authors to endorse their books, but I chicken out. :) That's awesome!!!
Rejection is something we have to learn to live with or get out of the business. It sticks, but you move on.
Great post!

TL Conway said...

Truth be told, I'm not sure my fragile psyche is ready for the query stage, but that's okay because neither is my book. :) But when I get there (notice I said when, not if!), I'll be coming back to posts like these because amongst all the rejection is also someone saying yes. I'm happy to hear some of your authors wrote back to provide blurbs! What a COOL experience!

Jeff King said...

I have not tried submitting any of my writing yet, so I don’t know how rejection feels… although I am sure I will, rejection is part of life, especially in writing.

R. Jacob said...

I stumbled upon this blog and thought of you!
http://karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/

She is a publisher. Good luck!!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Yep, rejections still hurt! But I am getting used to them, at least. :) Hey, that's great about the blurbs. Way to go!! I know that takes a lot of guts to ask. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Haha I actually have thought of this and it scares me to death. lol

I'm glad they were decent about it and that two were even kind in their refusal.

Michael Pierce said...

I try not to take my rejections to heart, but it's still hard. That's so exciting about your two accepted blurbs from authors you so admire! Wonderful post on the trials of being a writer.