I’ve heard many stories from published authors about rejection. Usually they are what I would entitle “horror” stories. “Don’t worry about it… I’ve got 50 rejection letters in my drawer from before I got published. Brush it off and keep going!”
Be still my heart, I might faint!
Seriously, am I the only one who has this sinking feeling every time you hear those stories? Sure, they say it to encourage you. To let you know that no matter how many rejections you get, there is still hope. Don’t quit, keep going.
Some days I question though. Would I be able to make it to FIFTY rejections? I mean, there aren’t even that many publishers or agents of Christian fiction, is there?!? That would mean EVERYONE would have to reject me, and many of them more than once. *groan*
But then God reminds me of a few things. 1.) He’s in control. 2.) That is THEIR story, not mine. 3.) If it is in His plan for me to get rejected 50 times before publication, then He’ll give me the strength and forbearance to endure it. *groan*.
I reached a milestone on Friday. I received my first rejection on a full manuscript submission (second rejection overall…not counting the no replies very early on when I had no clue what I was doing.) I debated all weekend whether to post on this, but I think it’s applicable to my writing journey and therefore document-able:-)
Here was the short e-mail rejection:
I very much enjoyed meeting with you during ACFW. Thank you for sending me your manuscript, LOL: Mission Jack. I read your story and think your writing is good, but I don’t think your project is quite ready for representation. At this point, I think it lacks the depth needed to make it stand out as a unique offering to the market. I encourage you to meet with critique partners and to revise. The idea is a good one and you should continue working on it!
I wish you the best as you continue down the road to publication!
When I received, I promptly did what every other ultra-analyzer would do. I analyzed it. Below are the results:
- “very much enjoyed meeting you.” At least it wasn’t, “oh, did you realize you forgot to wear deodorant at ACFW??”
- “think your writing is good” is MUCH better than “Your writing sucks, don’t quit your day job.”
- “idea is a good one and you should continue working on it” could have been, “trash… meet Krista’s manuscript!”
- I still have a full out there! And it is with an agent I would LOVE to have. That’s called HOPE people!
- Even if the other one rejects me… I’ve only queried 3 agents so far ever. There are plenty more fish in the sea!
- “don’t think your project is quite ready for representation.” BLAH BLAH–
- “Lacks the depth needed to make it stand out as a unique offering to the market” I officially HATE the word depth.
- “encourage you to meet with crit partners and to revise.” I HAVE! A BILLION TIMES!
- No offer of representation. Dad-gum-it!
Now… Please note on my cons. These are my GUT reactions. I think we all have them regardless of what is said. But the key is to get over our defense mechanisms and dig into your project to see what truth is there. Is this just one agents opinion, or do I really have work to do to add depth? Promptly after my analyzing, I shot off an e-mail to my crit partners, most of whom have read my full manuscript, asking their thoughts on the depth of my novel. I got back varying responses, including “No, your book has tons of depth! Don’t listen to her!” and some good advice I’m mulling over.
Am I rushing out to change my manuscript? Nope. First of all, I have a different project I’m working on, and I’m in the middle of edits on another one. Just because I got one person’s opinion, doesn’t mean I should push everything else aside and work on it only. Second, I still have the full out there with dream agent, so I’m going to sit tight to get her opinion. If she says the same thing, then I’ll know where to focus my efforts.
I also am cognizant to the fact that my rejection e-mail could be a form rejection. It’s hard to tell sometimes. “Depth” could mean a ton of things. Does she think my characters need more depth, or my plot? Or maybe it just wasn’t her cup of tea? So I’m gnawing on the information, keeping it in the back of my mind, but plodding forward with my current projects. I’m also in a ton of prayer about the outstanding full request. God knows the path for my writing career, and now I’m one step further along in my journey.
Discussion: How are you at handling rejection? What do you do to cope with it? Am I the only one that needs a brown paper sack at all the “50 rejection” stories??
Rejection stinks, Krista….plain and simple. Every step of the way.
BUT, you should be very encouraged that you're getting requests for fulls–and multiple requests! That is good news. Keep on going…in time, your work will pay off.
Have a great week!
Krista, that is a GREAT rejection. 🙂 Don't change things yet, but I wouldn't take it as a form one either. The rejection sounds very personal and sincere. Kudos to you for wearing deoderant! Heeheee!
Seriously, wait and see what the other one is, then consider the advice.
btw, I have around forty rejections on my first manuscript. Trust me, it's possible and you get numbed to it. 🙂
Eeek! Sorry, didn't mean to assume the other one will be a rejection. *slapping forehead*
I hope you get some rep from the other agent. "Lack of depth" can be a very subjective thing, so I wouldn't worry too much about that right now. 🙂
Rejections stink! Still, I think this sounds really positive.
I don't know how I've managed to continue through the years other than keeping the optimistic (naive?) idea that the next editor/agent will be the perfect fit.
It will happen. Keep sending it out!
It takes me a few days to get over a rejection depending on how bad it is. Remember, that's just one person's opinion. Writing is definitely subjective in a lot of ways. 🙂
Wow, Krista! That's a great rejection letter! She gave you some feedback (and no I don't think that it's a form letter). I agree with Jessica–I think you should mull over her idea about adding depth, but not rush to change it. See what the other agent says first and go from there.
You're getting full requests and personal rejections letters…I know this sounds wonky and backwards after receiving any sort of rejection, but that's GOOD! It really is.
Wishing you the BEST with dream agent. 🙂
Oh, and just to encourage you. I got a rejection from an agent. Very personalized. She said she didn't think this book was "the one" and that while my writing was good, she could not connect to my character. This is the very same book that garnered the interest of my current agent, so lots of things ARE subjective!
P.S. However, I did take the agent's advice. I did change my character's story arc a little before I sent it to the other agent. So there's something to be said about learning from those rejections!
Krista, your mindset makes me smile. You go, girl.
Every author has a folder of those "special" letters. Here's one of my favorites, received after sending the full:
"This is not what I expected. I am having difficulty seeing this as a publishable manuscript. So I am declining the opportunity to serve as agent for it."
Three months later, An Irishwoman's Tale received a contract offer.
Krista, as you so wisely noted, all it takes is for one pair of eyes to widen, to go, "Wow." The right pair. And God's loving guidance to that pair will happen. When He is ready.
LOVE your blog.
I know it sounds like an oxymoron to say that's a fabulous rejection, but that's what that letter is. Be encouraged, keep working on your current projects, and let the advice of this industry professional percolate in the back of your mind.
Personalized and detailed rejection letters are a sign that you're getting closer. 🙂
I have not gotten far enough in my journey to garner rejections, though I plan on it at some point. I need a few more ms's under my belt, before I hit that milestone. 🙂
Sounds like you're handling it well. Your first point of God is in control is the key! :O)
Rejection is "the suck!" Your letter sounded like one of the least scary of all the ones I've heard of so far. The "50 rejections" factor is a bit overwhelming to think about. Eventually you'll find the perfect fit for you and your MS.
My first rejection letter (from an agent) told me I needed to "learn the craft" of writing. This was four months after I finished my master's degree in WRITING FICTION and on my master's thesis. I have discovered in the ensuing years that several other authors (who've also since gone on to be signed by other agents and published) received a very similarly worded rejection letter from this agent.
One of the most fun things I've ever gotten to do was to sign a book for him at ICRS last year, thanking him for rejecting my first book so I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt which of the two agents I queried I was supposed to sign with. (Duh, the one who actually offered me representation!)
Of course perseverance (and forgetfulness) pays off, too. Nine months after signing with Chip, Stand-In Groom had been rejected by ALL of the publishing houses. Yes, including Barbour. My only appointment at the ACFW conference that year turned out to be with Becky Germany of Barbour. Neither Chip nor I could remember hearing back from her on the proposal, so I asked her about it. Turns out their publishing needs had changed (expanding the trade fiction line) and she asked for a full. The rest . . . well you know the rest of the story.
So, don't give up and don't lose heart. And one day when you're a multi-published author, you'll have this experience to use as an anecdote to help other up-and-coming writers overcome the sting of rejection.
I have a couple hundred rejections under my belt, most of which were form rejections, but still. I had 8 partial rejections and 1 full rejection for A Bitch Named Karma before I found it a home.
The key to success is to keep writing and moving forward…..I worked on my next project while I waited for the rejections to come in.
Aww, sorry about your rejection, Krista. I don't think that was a form letter at all. Great feedback.
Throw a short pity party, weigh the comments, and then eat chocolate. BTW, this is National Chocolate Week. 🙂
Krista, sounds like a positive rejection to me.
I'm not there yet, but I'd need the paper bag, too. I dread that part of the journey. I know that God will always provide the strength I need daily, but I still have feelings! Fifty is a lot!
Hopefully the other full will strike pay dirt!
Rejection requires a cup of coffee and a big hug. Sorry I can't give you either, but you know … I will say this … that was a nice rejection. Seriously. I've gotten one liners in the past. "Thank you for your manuscript. It does not suit our needs at this time". Period. So smile! You have a great list of PROS!! 🙂
Krista, you gave yourself the best advice when you wrote:
"But then God reminds me of a few things. 1.) He's in control. 2.) That is THEIR story, not mine. 3.) If it is in His plan for me to get rejected 50 times before publication, then He'll give me the strength and forbearance to endure it. *groan*"
Well, I might put the groan in capital letters. In bold. Italicized. In 50 point font. In red. With a dancing parrot avatar beside it.
I think you have a great attitude about it and it shows in your postings here on the blog. You've gone in with your eyes open and you're reading these with the knowledge of those who came before you. You'll get there. I know it.
Oh yeah. I had just almost exactly 50 rejections when I got my first offer. I know it sounds horrible, but it really isn't uncommon. I don't know much about Christian Fiction, and I imagine there are fewer agents that take it on, but don't get discouraged if you get some rejections, especially nice personalized ones like that. It will happen for you eventually. 🙂
Here's my take on rejection: http://valeriecomer.com/?p=709
Yeah, I had a nice personal one, too!
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