When do you call it quits on being a paid writer?
What is your favorite exercise for overcoming rejection?
What do you do with “nibbles” but nonetheless rejected?
I sent my query letter to 60+ literary agents (following all their requirements as specified on their websites). No one asked me to send them the manuscript for consideration. Apparently no one liked my concept/plot. What do you suggest next?
Besides drinking hemlock? Just kidding, of course.
The above are questions written by participants in my September workshop and boy, do they touch the core of my heart. Rejection—every writer’s favorite topic. And one we can never escape. It’s part of the job! our friends remind us bracingly. Never stop sending your novel out! Never give up! Stephen King got 80 rejections! J.K. Rowling got 24,837! Tolkien got 3,626,304,726!
It’s a little hard to take, sometimes. I myself have a novel out on submissions at this very moment and I’ve received not one, not two, not three but four rejections so far, all from major editors, all carefully crafted and all identifying different areas of my work that really are just not quite right. One thinks the tone is spot-on, but she’s not had success with horse books recently. One just bought a horse book and can’t buy another. One thinks the tone is off. One thinks the protagonist is treacly. One thinks the protagonist is too angry.
“What it’s like,” I explained to my future sister-in-law recently, “is receiving a bad performance review at your job—but every two weeks. All year. Every single year. Each of these bad performance reviews will be different, mind. Each will identify a different area in which you need to improve. And you will read one, and digest it, and pep talk your way through it and resolve to stay strong. And then, just when you’re climbing out of your hellhole—bam! Another one will pop up in your in-box. And you’ll start all over. Did I mention that’s forever?”
Writerly rejection is, of course, part of the game. It goes with the territory. There’s no magic bullet. Just fill in your own cliché here. The best I can offer is that it’s here, it sucks, and it’s universal. Take some cold comfort in that. And know that your writer friends will commiserate endlessly—because they’re going through it too.