Reflections on rejection

Picture of reading glasses on bookThis is going to be perhaps a more personal post than my usual offerings. But yet another rejection has that effect on most of us. Writing is such a very personal thing – or it is for me. My books have a lot of emotion in them. I expect a clever analyst could find out a lot about me from my writing. So when one gets yet another rejection… it hurts.

Oh, I know they’re not rejecting ME. My book hasn’t worked for them for whatever reason. But let me tell you, an impersonal, routine rejection of a query is much, much easier to bear than a rejection of a whole ms.

So I navel-gaze. And I reflect.

Is it my best work? Well, yes. I’m not saying it can’t be better, mind. It sure as hell isn’t a first draft. Or a second or third. My trusted beta-readers approved. Even Ms Agent said she liked the plot. And the fact that she allowed me to send the entire ms without even a query tells me she thinks I can write. Besides, I’ve had some excellent reviews on my published novel. So I don’t think I need to flay myself on my ability to tell a story. She just wasn’t sold on the story itself.

So do I change the story? I’ve already done that and I thought I did a good job. Refer back to beta-readers. If anything, they thought I’d streamlined a little too much, taken out some of the explanatory details. I can look at that.

And at the end of the day, one person has passed on the book. Others liked it. Plenty of people passed on famous books and authors. I’ve read whole lists of them. Here’s one list of rejections to warm the cockles of the heart.

So I guess I’m shrugging my shoulders and moving on. One day when I’m famous, I hope a few people out there in publishing are going to be kicking themselves.


About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 26 August 2010, in On writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. First, I’m sorry to hear about the rejection. I’ve had a full rejected before too, from an agent I really thought would love it, with the heartbreaking words “I loved this, and I really think you will sell, but this heroine/event aren’t famous enough to sell well as a first novel.” – In other words, I loved it, but it’s too obscure a subject. I was not exactly crushed, but it definitely set me back on my heels. I know where you’re at tonight, and fully expect to see that long, dark evening of the soul again before it’s through.

    That said, permit me to put another spin on your rejection and this post: Thank you for going through it publicly. I have read Die a Dry Death, and frankly it was one of the better historical fiction novels I’ve read in a long time (and I read a lot). It was one of the better novels I’ve read in a long time (see above). I’m not just saying that – I mean it (and there will be a real, fact-based review on my blog, as soon as my friend-and-webmaster finishes porting the new software next week, so you’ll see I have reasons for that opinion). And I take encouragement from the fact that there are other really good writers out there who have been published but still deal with rejections. It gives me hope that my own rejections are only temporary too.

    Publication is like a game of last man standing. You have to keep getting up when they push you down, or you won’t be standing at the end of the game, when the publication time comes. Hang in there. I believe you can do this and it’s nice to know we’re not in it alone.

  2. Thanks for this lovely comment, Susan. It brings a tear to the eye, so it does. Thanks for the support, I really, really appreciate it. One of the great things about the internet is we get to share these small personal setbacks. I’m sure I’ll be fine tomorrow… it’s part of the game, as you say.

  3. There’s an Japanese proverb springs to mind: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” Keep getting back up, Greta, and you’ll get there. I know you will.

  4. I loved this post.

    I have had my fair share of rejections, and I don’t mind them that much. I do mind it when a junior copy machine operator opens my submission (which contains three chapters as requested) at 8.10pm and at 8.12pm sends out a rejection message stating “while your book is not right for us, it very likely is great for some other agency”. That’s simply not fair, but it’s a buyer’s market. Any cheese to go with the whine? I’m over it already.

  5. Greta, it’s so tough out there right now that it’s not enough to be good, you have to be lucky. I hope you get lucky another time.

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