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Personal Rejections? Don’t Stop Now! They’re Golden!

Don't let rejections stop youIn comments to the  post, How To Find A Literary Agent, Jesse made the following comment. I wanted to (again) address rejection and the freelance writer.

Greetings Anne,
Actually, I’m writing in behalf of my son. Last year he finished a novel, I guess it would be generally classified as sci-fi, although it has a lot of different elements from comedy to tragedy to mystery. I helped him with the proofreading and it was re-written a few times. The end product is good.

He asked me to help submit to agencies, which I did. The very first asked for the manuscript, but was rejected very tactfully with encouragement to “find a home” for his work.

Since then I submitted to a few more, with a few encouraging rejections, :^).

The problem I have is that he is getting discouraged, and this is the 1st in a series of four that he plans for this particular project.

I really have enjoyed the tips you give, and realized that I also was discouraged. Thanks for the boost. I’m going to try to figure out a marketing plan again.

Maybe this time.. hopefully.

Regards, Jesse

Hi Jesse,

First, would you please congratulate your son for me? I can’t tell you how many people say they want to write and never even start, let alone finish a book! Good job!

If he’s getting personalized rejections he’s actually close to getting published. Personalized rejections are actually golden. It means the editor or reader not only read a great deal of the book, but liked it well enough to take the time to send something other than a standard or automatic rejection. It’s real encouragement that he’s close.

Make sure both of you understand that. For writers rejection is just the beginning. Also know that when a publisher buys the first in a series, the subsequent sales are almost guaranteed.

It’s amazing how many times first time book authors are rejected. Consider Katheryn Sockett – she wrote The Help and was turned down 60 times!

It may be time for both of you to re-read the book and see if you can figure out why it’s not selling. Another rewrite sounds awful, I know, but it might be what it takes. Make sure you double check each rejection for any hints.

Maybe you want to find a coach or book doctor – be careful you don’t spend a ton and get some references before you hire anyone, even me.

Finally,  I’d re-read the rejections and if I found one from an actual editor, not a first reader or other minion, I might be tempted to try a letter to him or her asking what direction you might help your son take. I don’t know that you’d get an answer, but you just might surface some interesting information. Keep it simple, heart felt and short… and if you send by snail mail, enclose an SASE.

Finally, I’d start activating your own network – who do you know that knows an agent or publisher in the Science Fiction field, or who do you know who knows someone. Or a book writing coach. My hunch is you’re very likely to find a valuable connection or two.

Good luck, and keep us posted, please.

How have you handled rejection?


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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • There are a couple of workshops for SF writers that might be good for Jesse’s son to at least check out.

    Clarion West http://www.clarionwest.org/
    Visible Paradise http://www.sff.net/paradise/

    Both have instructors that are published authors or editors in the field and would not only provide a great chance at critiques to push his work over the edge, they would also be a good chance for networking.
    S M Taylor recently posted..Seattle Startup Weekend Gov brings local community together to build appsMy Profile

  • ‘How I have handled rejection?’

    I don’t know if it was just a standard (kind) rejection
    Anyway, It actually did Inspire me to write a Post about it titled:
    ‘The Secret to Writing Success’ that I have put
    on a special page that you can find on my Writing Blog.
    HP van Duuren recently posted..What Do You Think About My Book Review?My Profile

    • Posting about rejection is a good way to handle it.

      • Yes, I do think that a Dis-advantage usually also has a somewhat equal Advantage because it was a great opportunity to write a post about it and in that post – that draws the attention from people that want to get published and that probably also like to read – at the same time (pre) selling:

        1) a Book about Getting Published,
        2) the Magazine that rejected my writing,
        (because it was a friendly rejection)
        3) the Magazines that did publish writing from me.
        HP van Duuren recently posted..What Do You Think About My Book Review?My Profile

  • Anne, you should remind this writer, too, how many rejections Stephen King got before he first published. Every day I’m more convinced that successful writing comes down to volume and tenacity.
    Allena recently posted..It’s Writer’s Worth Week- What Are YOU Worth?My Profile

    • Allena, I don’t know how many rejections King revived… a bunch I take it. And he’s not alone. I used to know of a website that listed a bunch, but I can’t find it.

  • Rejections are completely acceptable and understandable. Many can be the reasons of a rejection, either the article doesn’t fit the publication, or there simply is no space, but it would be very helpful if rejections were actually explicit and even better if matched with their reason, while too often writers understand they got rejected just because they don’t hear from editors at all…
    Angela recently posted..Bulls, horses and roses to celebrate Saint Catherine of Alexandria in SardiniaMy Profile

    • Agreed, Angela, but editors will tell you it takes way too much time to try to coach writers or give them specific reasons for rejection.

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