‘Not another one! That’s the fifth time I’ve been rejected this month.’
‘Try 30 times. These rejection emails just keep pouring in. I’ve had enough.’
‘I’ll never get my book published.’
‘Well, just keep going. One of these days…’
Sound familiar? Had your own manuscript rejected umpteen times? Explored self-publishing yourself, but the finances just won’t stretch that far?
Before you get too despondent, consider that millions of writers before you have had to face rejection. And believe it or not, there are some positives that come from it.
If you search Google, you will find a surprising list of famous authors who’ve been side-lined by multiple publishers. Names like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, John Le Carre, Louisa May Alcott.
What do these authors have in common? They’re all mega-successful millionaires who’ve sold millions of books all over the world. And yet, like we authors, their road to success had a rocky start. Consider the well-known and well-loved writer of more than sixty children’s books, Dr. Seuss. He apparently was rejected twenty-seven times and was on his way home to burn one of his manuscripts - when a chance meeting catapulted him to publication. His most successful book, Green Eggs and Ham (the very manuscript that was destined for the trash) has sold over 8 million copies worldwide.
The lesson you can take from all this is obvious: the next time you receive a rejection email, remember that you’re in good company! You’re definitely not the only author who has experienced multiple rejections. So keep going until one day…
‘We regret to inform you that your manuscript does not fit our list.’
If I’ve ever even received a reply from a publisher – sometimes I’ve waited months and even years to no avail, despite my follow-up emails – that’s been one of the most common ‘rejection slips’ or, more recently, ‘rejection emails’. Busy publishers who receive mountains of manuscripts might reject your manuscript for a number of reasons: their lists are already full for that year, your manuscript is not the right genre for them – always research a publisher before you send off your manuscript – they’re a small publisher and just don’t have the capacity to publish too many books, they have to watch their finances carefully and are very selective about the type of books they publish – they have their eyes on the market, and just don’t think your book would sell very well.
So, if you’re feeling disappointed that another manuscript has been sent back to you, it helps to see things from the publisher’s point of view. They still have a huge slush pile to get through, and their publishing programme only allows them to publish, say, eight books in a year.
You may not want this fact to be shoved down your throat – I can hear you groaning already
– but rejection has a way of strengthening your character. It produces perseverance, tenacity, and even sheer dogged-headedness. ‘I will not give up; I will not give up’ becomes your new mantra. You keep writing, you keep sending off your manuscripts, you keep believing in your work, until one day…. I began my writing career in 1985, but countless manuscripts and rejections later, it was only in 1989 that my first book, The Biggest Pizza, was published.
Although writing is a solitary pursuit, rejection has a way of bonding you with other authors
who’ve experienced those rejection emails, too. You can commiserate with an author buddy, share strategies for the next step, and get some tips on who is likely to view your manuscript favourably. It connects you with the world of writers out there and makes you feel not so alone. I’ve been chatting to a fellow author and friend (who unfortunately doesn’t live in the same city as me) for more than thirty years. What would we do without the encouragement and invaluable advice we’ve shared with each other over the years?
Imagine how thrilled, excited, over-the-moon you’ll be when you’re first book finally hits the
shelves, especially as it’s been such a very long journey. I remember my sister roaring with delight when she heard about The Biggest Pizza being accepted. She promptly invited me and my then very young kids to a celebration lunch at an Italian restaurant. No prizes for guessing what I had for lunch that day!
So keep writing. Keep going. Keep persevering. And don’t let those rejection emails get you down. If you’re as determined as I was, even if it means the self-publishing route which so many authors are taking currently, one day, you’ll hold your first book in your hand.