I am a member of several writing circles. One thing that we all have in common is persisting in the face of rejection. I’m starting a new series of posts this week featuring some of my writer friends. I’m calling it “We’re All in This Together” because many times I feel like it’s my writer friends who keep me going in this writing life. Each week I’ll feature a new topic, and my writer friends will chime in.
Writes about science and reviews kid’s books at Archimedes Notebook and Sally’s Bookshelf
A couple weeks ago I received an email rejection to a story that I thought was perfect for the editor. After opening a bag of M&Ms and fixing a cup of tea I decided to put this story aside for a week and work on other things. Rejection, I learned a long time ago, is subjective. Many years ago I mailed a query to a magazine editor – one who had already published a couple of my articles. After waiting a month or so I mailed a follow-up letter, enclosing a copy of the query (in case it had gone lost). A week later I received a rejection. That was fast, I thought. Guess she really didn’t like it. Two weeks later I received my second SASE. This time she wrote: Yes; would love to see the article.
In The Forest for the Trees, once-editor-now-agent Betsy Lerner writes: “Do not spend more time with rejection letters than the time it takes to read them and file them away.” In the end, she says, no matter how many rejection letters you receive, the only rejection that really counts is our own.
Children’s Author and Editor http://www.MirandaPaul.com
A couple of years ago, I met Pat Schmatz. Before becoming an award-winning author, she faced a lot of rejection—so much, in fact, that she was able to wallpaper her bathroom with rejection letters. She’d turned rejection into a creative project, faced it every day, and shared it with others! So, every time I get a rejection letter I save copies and I show them off when I teach or visit a school. During my last school visit, I think the kids enjoyed hearing about my rejections more than my successes! As I write, I remember that rejection is part of every writer’s process, and that being rejected is still of value to myself and others.
Author of 1 Zany Zoo, Simon & Schuster, 2010
Cock-a-Doodle Oops!, Creston Books, 2014
This is my favorite story to encourage writers to hang on in the face of rejection! Four years ago, I submitted a manuscript for critique at our annual Illinois SCBWI conference. The story had been rejected by several major publishers, so I wanted some feedback to find out what I was doing wrong. The editor, who critiqued it, pretty much trashed it and I was devastated! I had thought it was a solid manuscript so, when she couldn’t find more than one positive thing to say about it, I doubted my abilities to write and to even judge my own writing. Then, three weeks later, the same exact manuscript (word for word) won the Cheerios New Author Contest!! That’s when it really hit home that this is a very subjective business and you just need to find the right editor for your story! But, I suggest you have other writers (whose opinions you value) critique it for you so your manuscript is as polished as possible before submitting it!
We’ve all heard it- every rejection gets you closer to an acceptance letter. But how many rejections can you take? I try to remind myself WHY I write and keep on doing what I love because one of these days I know that one of my stories will fall into the hands of right editor at the right time. It also helps to remind myself that even the best writers and the well-known authors get rejected.
Here are some helpful posts about rejections that will make you feel better about your writing:
Elizabeth Parker Garcia
I love reading established authors’ stories about their paths to publication. So many now-famous writers climbed their way up on a pile of rejections. Persistence is key!
I set a goal to receive a certain number of rejections this year. Now when I get a “no thanks,” it’s still progress I can measure.
All of these are great tips. Thanks to all who participated. Stay tuned to tomorrow’s post where I feature more children’s writers’ takes on rejections.