On Rejection - or The art of allowing a person to crush all your hopes and dreams.
I think this is something we all have in common. As writers, rejection and its ugly step-sister, criticism, play a part in our lives, but no one really prepares you for the crushing weight of the devastation that these evil twins dish out. If you are going for the traditional publishing or the self-publishing route, either way, you will have to duel with these bitches at some point in your career, quite possibly all the way through.
I have broached this subject on my own blog once before, but because I had just raised my head from a bought of depression brought on by this exact thing, the subject was not really delved into. As I say on my blog, I couldn't tell you how many times I have received rejection letters for my books or short stories. I have since also received bad reviews. And it doesn't seem to matter how many good reviews you get for a story, it is always that one bad one that you remember.
Hi, by the way, I'm Adelise M Cullens. I'm a writer and mother and all round crazy goth artsy chick from Australia. I have been writing for roughly 13 years, so, yeah, I have been rejected a few times.
I recently read an article about JKR trying to get her new books published the traditional way. She used a pseudonym and didn't mention who she was in her cover letters. I love this about JKR. All she would have to do is say who she is and anyone would pick up her work. But she didn't, she is starting from the bottom, in the slush with the rest of us, trying to get there on merit alone. But she has still been rejected. I feel two ways about this story. A) I feel happy that even someone as brilliant as JKR can be rejected. And B) I feel terrible that someone as brilliant as JKR can be rejected. What does this say about the publishing world? And how many brilliant books have been passed up for something else, possibly something horrible. Also, how many squeaky new writers, that may have had brilliant work, like JKR, have given up on their dreams because some lit agent's secretary was hung over and didn't read something properly and passed on it?
These are the things I think of… I am a cynical bitch at heart…
This also makes me think about something I heard Maggie Stiefvater say once, she said 'If you want to stop being rejected then stop writing shit…' well, maybe that wasn't the exact quote, but she said something very close. Now, I fucking love Maggie S. Sometimes I like to think that we were sisters separated when we were still young, like gothic Elsa and Anna, our black souls still connected somehow, but this comment pissed me off. I think this is shitty advice to give us fragile beings. I mean, if your writing is shit then you should probably improve it, but mostly I don't think rejection is all about the quality of your writing. If it was then surely JKR would have been snapped up by the first agent/publisher she sent her stuff to, cause her writing is fucking perfect.
Enjoying a piece of writing is so subjective. Our styles are different; topics, genre, life experience, health, language, age, everything has some sort of effect on our book choices, our writing and whether a book gets picked up or not. What if the person reading your work is sick with the flu but went to work anyway? They are reading through your MS in one hand and holding a trash can in the other to puke in. Or maybe their marriage just collapsed, he walked in on his wife fellating his father in their marital bed the day before, so your terrific novel about a funny but slutty housewife fighting zombies while wearing sexy lingerie will be thrown straight in the slush pile.
Maybe I am going to extremes, but I think you see my point.
Your MS being rejected does not mean your writing is shit. Let me say that again, perhaps we can all say it together. OUR MANUSCRIPTS GETTING REJECTED DOES NOT MEAN OUR WRITING IS SHIT. Hello, Authors Anonymous, my name is Adelise and I'm a writer…
So, how can we do our best to avoid getting rejected and not falling into a suicidal/alcoholic slump when we do?
I'll tell you.
Rejection avoidance plan.
Anti-depression plan for post-rejection.
Now that I have ranted for half of your day, I will leave you with a story. About seven years ago, I wrote a quadrilogy set in a BDSM parlour. It was pretty good. It was NOT erotica. But it was racier than most things out there. I sent it to every agent in Australia. The last rejection letter I got said, "Really enjoyed it, well written, but I'm sorry, in this market kinky doesn't sell." Three months later Fifty shades came out… Kinky doesn't sell my fucking arse… I have wanted to email back that agent so many times!
Feel free to pop over to my blog or on all the social media and say hello. Please share your own crushing rejection stories down below in the comments or on social media (make sure you tag me and the beautiful A. Renee Hunt in the story) and I'll pick the most devastating to send a prize.
Hugs, AMC xxx
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