The Aftermath Of Rejection

Writing a story is an investment. Of time, energy, heart, soul and everything a writer has to offer. We put it all into our work and it’s hard when it doesn’t meet expectations and is rejected.

I’m going to be honest, it is very hard to be told no, over and over and over again. Every single rejection brings a deflating wave of disappointment down on me. Sometimes I feel fragile and shattered by the mass amount of no’s. The key is to let it go. Move on and forward. I expect rejections and I’m not bitter about it. It does suck no matter how I look at it or feel about it. I just refuse to let it stop my from trying again. When I started this journey I told myself that there was only one outcome, being traditionally published. I plan to do whatever I have to do to get there. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends that believe in me and offer the encouragement needed to get through the vast swamp of no’s.

I’ve talked about this before, but since it’s part of my daily life I’m talking about it again. Only this time what do I do when I’ve been rejected 100%? First, I look at the possible and most likely reasons my Query was declined.

  1. The agent is busy and I suspect didn’t actually read my query
  2. My query letter wasn’t good enough
  3. There’s too much competition (There always will be, I tell myself to get over it)
  4. My synopsis wasn’t gripping enough
  5. My hook wasn’t as hook like as it could be.
  6. They agent isn’t actually open (Even though they say they are)
  7. There are errors that may need addressing (Grammar, structure, flow, etc.)
  8. My story isn’t good enough. (Yes it is. Never believe your story isn’t good- I dismiss this thought as soon as it pops in my head.)
  9. I’m not a good writer. (Again I dismiss this one too. I am and will only succeed if I don’t give in or give up.)
  10. There are too many queries out there to get noticed (This is a numbers game where persistence will pay off)

Regardless of the potential possibilities I must be open to suggestion and set my ego aside. I will go through each and take the time to ask, can it be better? THe answer is yes.

SO what do I do about it?

  1. I buy/read books on query letters, synopsis writing and open my mind to the possibility that I’m not perfect and there is room for improvement. If I’m rejected 100% over 300 times, then something needs tweaking or fixing.
  2. I look at my notes on the agents and agencies before querying again. (This is a big task and I use spreadsheets to keep track)
  3. Professional editing is always an option (unfortunately it’s also expensive so I do my best to work through it myself.)
  4. I set my work aside for a while before looking at it again. Proximity can be blinding. 
  5. I never give up. I know what I want and I’m going to get there. Even when it feels insurmountable, I never stop trying. 
  6. I get others to read my work and ask for honest opinions. Sometimes, ah who am I kidding, all the time, criticism is hard to hear. But if I’m not willing to listen then I’ll never get my end goal of traditional publishing.  This is the hardest to do and I’ve taken some, sulked and over time mulled it over and found solid advice/reasoning and finally use it to move forward.
  7. I talk to others in the same situation and those that have succeeded. Jealousy will get me nowhere, petty thoughts of ‘why did they get published and not me?’ are dangerous and wont help.
  8. Keep my mind open to possibilities and change

Although I’ve had well over 300 rejections in my last round of queries I know I need to keep at it. I will revise my query letter, synopsis and try again. I’m also in the process of finding out how to better tailor each and every query to better my chances of getting noticed. There is one thing I’m doing that is huge, but I’ll discuss this another time.

My advice about the aftermath of rejection.
The entire process is an emotional battle field. No matter how carefully you plan your attack and defenses there will be struggle, loss, pain, highs, lows, frustration and elation, before you win the battle. The only way there is to never stop trying.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Keeping Track

Rejected

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

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27 thoughts on “The Aftermath Of Rejection

    1. Literary agents primarily. The big publishing houses here are tougher to get into than fort Knox without an agent. The smaller publishing companies that I looked into turned out to be indie or vanity press that want money up front and have no guarantees of anything.

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  1. Rejections are fun, I’m fairly sure I just send out queries so they can be rejected. I’m pretty sure the subject line of my email always arrives with “please reject without reading after 6 weeks”

    That being said I got two acceptances to vanity publishers last week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been contacted by a number of Vanity but I’m not ready to go that route yet. For now I’ll stick to the advice I’ve been given and keep trying for traditional. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know vanity publishers (which is a stupid name) are frowned upon by some people and some experts evevn call them a scam but in my mind it’s no difference to starting a business. Starting a business costs a heap of money and there is no guarantee of success. If there is any part of that business you can’t do yourself you either pay for it to be done or get a partner. The idea of vanity publishing is really no different, you pay a publisher to do the leg work. Sure there is a risk that they don’t have to work as hard but at the end of the day they want to make money too and a one off small payment is not enough to keep them afloat.

        I know over the past 20 years I’ve spent a bucket loads more money on new business ventures than any vanity publisher asks for. It’s really small change if you believe in the product you’re trying to sell.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Just be careful. I personally know two people that went this route and are sitting on a basement full of books (Thousands of dollars) they have to sell on their own. Read the fine print and check them out on the BBB and online reviews. Speak to or contact some of their published authors and don’t pay until you have a lawyer look at the contract. Also find out what they plan to put the price point at. One of those people had to put their price too high to just break even and are now selling at a loss of profit and are in debt. The other got a stock photo cover that looked like ten other books that were published by that company and once they got their money the promotion and marketing vanished. I’m not saying don’t, I’m just saying cover your ass in every possible way before paying someone who essentially a sales person. I put some hard questions to one of them and at the end they told me that they couldn’t guarantee my book would even be on bookshelves. I asked what their long term plan was for promoting my book and placing it in stores. They didn’t have one beyond putting it on amazon. Which I can do myself… for about $10,000 less. I’m in sales and have been trained to up-sell and hard-sell. With each one I got the distinct impression they were praying on my desire to be published and even brought out the key words and phrases that make it seem too good to be true. And too easy. I hope it works out, as it has for many others that vanity press publish, but please don’t jump right in.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m not really interested in following up any publishers right now because one needs to know when to stop rather than pushing something that isn’t being asked for, but with the contacts I’ve seen ending up with any more than 10 physical copies of the printed book isn’t possible, because it’s not up to the author to sell. The publisher handles all sales and advertising.

            One of the authors I know went down the path of paying for everything from editing to printing, he got 5000 copies of his first book and psychically took it to books shops asking them to sell it. He spent 10’s of thousands of dollars doing it and had zero guarantees. Sure 20 years on he’s got a major book deal and can write anything he wants but if he hadn’t out laid the massive sum of cash and put in 2 years of leg work trying to get his book into shops he wouldn’t have been anywhere.

            Vanity publishing costs a fraction of that and comes with nearly as many promises but they do have marketing deals and the ability to push a product into a market most authors can’t.

            A publisher that has 500 authors on their books doesn’t automatically mean they are going to push a new author throwing their book into the pool either. There isn’t even proof that a publisher wearing all the costs of publishing pushes a product harder than one that shares the costs and given that many of the Vanity publishers are subsidiaries of larger publishers it really does just come down to paying a small sum up front for a business model you believe in.

            No contracts should be entered into without being read but I’ve seen dodgy contracts for both Vanity publishers and traditional publishers. Royalties are a lot higher from Vanity publishers for a reason.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. The more I read the more I learn. I know I have some work to do if I’m getting all no’s. But I also know of some famous authors that went down the road of no and it took years of persistence to land a publishing deal. Years… So I’m opting to keep my head up. Definitely read and don’t be afraid to seek out professional advice.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are GOLD! Love your positive optimistic outlook. Being a writer is very much like being an actor or dancer in that the rejections can stack up and only the “hardy” remain. It takes fortitude and let’s face it, “balls” to continue, keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s keeping your eyes on the prize (the prize being of course) getting published. I know you’ll get there, Sheryl, because of your determination. You will receive the “other” letter, the one you are waiting for, the “unrejection” letter. You really are a shining example of what “to do” as opposed to what “not to do” and that is allow yourself to get into a fog. LOVE that about you! Your a fine example of what a real author is. Woot Woot!

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    1. Awww you are without a doubt an amazingly supportive person and I appreciate all you say. It’s not easy and I still have many voices suggesting to veer off track, but I’m not ready for that yet. Maybe in a few years once I’ve exhausted every possibility I may, but not yet. I still have some tricks up my sleeve and I’m not even entertaining defeat. 🙂

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      1. You Rock! You are encouraging to me and others IL
        , my sure. I did the smashwords thing because with my sight difficulties it was easier not to mention my son did it all for me. I’ve managed to sell 5 books…sometimes that’s a little discouraging cause I’d hoped for more but I’m sure it will come. I’m hopeful.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m an editor for one of SFWA’s pro short fiction markets and 80% of stories that I see in the slush pile do not have strong enough prose to be professionally published. If you’ve never gotten acceptance and have over 300 rejections, I can almost guarantee this is at least one of your problems.

    My advice is to actively try to find your weaknesses in writing (not just a story) and do everything you can to improve those.

    Good luck, and you are right, the only difference between a failing writer and a successful one is that one did not give up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fear not my friend I am not above improving myself. I have actually been taking some advisement and have started working toward improvements and changes. I started this with the knowledge that traditional publishing is a tough nut. I’ve also read some literary agents’ blogs and articles and they admit many of the things I’ve noticed. Not bothering to read, having assistants skim and some get left in the inbox until they are flagged and rejected. They are busy people with a lot of queries to sort through. I’ve had my work looked at professionally and have been advised there is nothing wrong with the prose, it’s just a matter of playing the game until I win. That being said, I am taking a hard look to see where I can improve.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been receiving many rejections for my short stories lately. The first few I can move on from, but once they keep happening, it becomes disheartening — no matter how much faith I have in the story. I am beginning to recognise when to leave a story, but also to keep going even when I feel discouraged. The one positive thing I can take from rejection is learning.

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    1. I think learning from rejection is the only way to acceptance. To see and understand where the weakness and errors may lay and do what is necessary to fix them. This is not my only novel, but it is my first(of many). I have another I’m working on at the moment that will hopefully be ready for querying in the fall.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re so committed. I think I might have responded to one of your previous rejections posts about my choice to go from traditional to indie. Traditional publishing has benefits, but it also has a lot of drawbacks. Keep at it if it’s the only option you’ll accept, but please know that there are wonderful advantages to self-publishing too should you get tired of waiting. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have done a lot of research on the many options for publishing and they all have benefits and drawbacks that seem to conflict with one another. I’m not discounting, bashing or snubbing indie, vanity press or self publishing by any means all are the right choice for the right person and reasons. I chose traditional for the many positive attributes despite the extremely difficult path to get there. I do have a plan if I can’t get published traditionally, but before that, I have many other plans to try to get there first.
      The strongest tree grows from adversity-unknown.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m fairly new to the whole writing scene. I’ve always loved writing, but I have only recently decided to make a career out of it. In order to go about writing a book or a short story, how exactly would I start? I have a plethora of ideas swimming around but I just can’t grasp any solid points for a good piece. I’ve started a blog in order to try to improve my writing, which is what led me here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a bunch of blog posts that I’ve posted on the subject of writing and my journey to get a book published. When it comes to ideas, the best thing to do is write them down. Keep them. For me, and this is an individual thing, I will mull over some ideas until they click together(Usually in the shower). I’ve had projects I set aside because the creative juices aren’t flowing and others that I can’t stop working on. Everyone is different with how they get out their creativity. Don’t be afraid to try new things or different styles of writing and keep your mind open too. If you go back and read some of my older blogs and have questions leave a comment or you can contact me directly. Just make sure that you are having fun.

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