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 me 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. The 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 won’t 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 a 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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 Bitter
Tailor

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Rejecting the rejected

BiaAtlas book update.

Well it has been 23 days since I started submitting my book to Literary Agents for representation. I got my first rejection letter from this round.  I am expecting them, after all not all agents are a good fit or are interested specifically in my genre (Even though they say they are).

A rejection letter isn’t the end of the world, I’ve talked about them before in the rejection letter.  I have to say I appreciate that they even sent one. Some agencies say ‘if you don’t hear from us within 8 weeks consider your query rejected’ or something along those lines.

Being rejected by someone or for something is a common part of our lives. Some people handle it like champs and move on while others on the other end of the spectrum dive into depression and struggle to overcome the hurdle. It also depends on how important the outcome would be and what the expectations were. How did I set myself up? To be hugely disappointed or go in knowing rejection is possible.

When and if I include rejection in my stories it’s not something I give too much though to. Why? Because I just didn’t think of it as important. Now I do. That is because it can, like so many other things I prattle on about, be pivotal to a story or character development.

So I’m going to write a fun part-chapter about rejection today.

Sasha meets Cal:

Sasha watched the handsome man approach, his dark brown eyes sparkled with interest. Anne and Valery ditched the moment they figured out he was interested in Sasha. Always interfering they giggled and snickered their way to a table to watch. He was tall, it didn’t take much to overshadow Sasha, but his height was coupled by a thick chest and broad shoulders. She did not want to be here, she did not want to be hit on, not tonight. She cast her tittering friends a death-glare as the man stopped and smiled down at her.

“I’m Cal.” He held his hand out.

Odd, this tall and impressive man didn’t employ the ancient tradition of weird pick up lines or cheesy invitations to buy her a drink.  He had a day’s growth of dark beard hair on his strong square jaw. Her inclination to touch his cheek brought a frown to her lips as she shook his hand instead. He was dangerous and far too attractive. Time to shut this down.

“Sasha.” She pulled her hand from his, picked up the lime daiquiri the bartender just set down.

“Nice to meet you Sasha.” Cal’s charming slanted smile made her palms sweat. “Christian Louboutin’s?” He gestured at her feet.

“Ah, yes?”

“You’ve been to New York?”

“No. I know how to shop on line like most humans.” She had lucked out and got them 75% off and a few others. Her size wasn’t standard so they sometimes had old stock. That they were last season or whatever they were labelled as didn’t matter one bit.  It is important for her to dress to impress for work and party. At home, she was jeans and a t-shirt kinda woman. Her suits and expensive shoes helped her land the bigger clients so she indulged on the designers discounts.

“You don’t look happy to be here Sasha.”

Again, no awkward pick up line.

“I’m not.” She dug deep to find her inner bitch. The sooner she got away from him the better. She would talk to one more guy as per the agreement with Valery and Anne, order them two more shooters each and leave as soon as they were drunk enough. “And this is not making it any better.”

“The gross frozen drink or my talking to you?” Cal tilted his head slightly.

“Both.” She glanced over at her friends who both gave her double thumb up as they sipped their daiquiris. She looked back at Cal who had followed her line of sight.

“Let me guess you’d rather be at home curled up on the couch watching a rom-com dousing your woes with a bottle of…” He smiled slightly and tapped his chin. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Norman Hardie Pinot Noir.”

Her mouth fell open, it was her favorite, and if she wasn’t drinking tequila shooters she would have had a glass or two.

“I’m not clairvoyant. You’ve glanced at the bottle behind the bar three times.”

“Oh.”

His unexpected charm was disarming.

“You’re planning on getting them drunk enough to ditch them aren’t you.” He smiled and tipped his glass toward her two friends.

“How could you know that?”

“Because Sasha you’ve been one to their three on drinks, you keep looking behind me at the exit and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re about to tell me to get lost.”

Sasha took a deep breath and huffed. “I have to talk to you for at least five more minutes.”

He leaned closer. “Hmm. To get them off your back?” The scent of cologne wafted to her nose. The luscious blend of floral, spice and masculinity was subtle and not overpowering. If Sasha wasn’t so royally unhappy right now she might have considered being nicer to the very alluring man. Of all the nights he picked this one to stroll over all sexy, nice and talk to her. Not ‘how ‘bout that rain yesterday?’ or ‘what brings you to Starches?’ Real conversation was hard to come by.

“Well then I have four and a half more minutes. What do you do for a living?”

“Graphic design.” She dropped her eyes from his face and saw Anne leave to dance with a guy she’s flirted with since they arrived. Valery shrugged and mouthed ‘your turn’.

Rolling her eyes Sasha looked back at Cal. He would be an easy target for her built up anger, resentment and underlying sadness.

“Let me save you the trouble of the crap questions Cal. I’m a Virgo, I don’t have pets, I love my job, I don’t like dancing, terrible pick-up lines or small talk. I don’t like pushy men, or the bars they prowl in. I don’t care what you do, or who you are, what you do or do not like whatsoever. Since you voluntarily strolled over, I’m using you to fulfill a promise that I would “try”. I don’t date, ever, and before you ask, I’m not interested in women either.” She looked at her watch turned to the bartender and ordered six tequila shooters.

“Well at least you love your job.” He chuckled. “How ‘bout Piña coladas? Or getting caught in the rain?”

Her lips curled up slightly, he was trying to cheer her up and he was listening. Then the reality of the song hit her as she recalled the lyrics.

“I am into yoga and I have more than half a brain. I don’t appreciate cheaters or those that plan to cheat. I’ll say it again.” She looked at her watch before glancing at Valery as she finished her drink. “I don’t date, ever. Thanks for talking to me, but you can go now. Find some other woman to charm to bed I’m not interested.”

“You sure I can’t persuade you to talk more or maybe dance?”

“No you can’t.” She shook her head, picked up the six shots on the small tray with lemon wedges and salt and walked away to Valery.

Sasha has her reasons for rejecting Cal, this is her personal torment to overcome. I look at how rejection affected myself or others I know. It can be a wealth spring of opportunity to create conflict within a characters personal life. It can inspire struggle to overcome or depression and even anger. It can bring out the inner strength and determination they didn’t know they had.

My advice about rejection.
We can’t say yes to everything, even a simple no is a rejection. Use rejection to push a character forward or down. Or to showcase an inner struggle such as Sasha’s.

-Sheryl

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