Rejection. It’s a four-letter word in the writing industry. Yet every blossoming writer has to go through it. I remember the first rejection letter I received. It was for my novel that was published early last year. It went something along the lines of: “Your book was not suitable for our company because of its genre. If you ever write a romance, we’d be happy to take a look at it.”
Romance, I thought. Gag. I’m a murder mystery writer, not a romance writer. Crime thrillers are my choice of reading material, TV shows, and of course, what I love to write. You write what you know. And I do not know romance.
Yet I instinctually knew that the rejection letter was a polite way of saying, “Sorry, we’re not interested.” The company had already read my three-chapter proposal so they clearly knew the genre of my submission.
Many writers just want publishers to be honest with them, tell them what their piece was lacking. There’s nothing more frustrating than to be told, “It’s just not for us” without being told why! How can you improve if you’re never given that constructive criticism necessary to foster marketable and successful writing? What’s even worse is the publishers who don’t even give you the courtesy of properly notifying you of your rejection. Or what I love, publishers who reject you a year after you sent in a submission. I once had a publishing company who rejected me two and a half years later, nearly a year and a half after the book I proposed was published!
It’s funny how your first rejection letter frames your future submissions. Some writers give up. Some writers use rejection as a motivation and a driver. Some writers take the constructive criticism and use it to foster success. And some break down and become defensive or angry. Because after all, that is their work. The work they slaved over for weeks, months, even years!
I fell into the category of writers who gave up for about a year and then used it as fuel to come back even stronger, with even more force, determined to not let rejection stop me.
Truth be told, there are probably several would be authors that were never discovered because they couldn’t recover from their first, second, or even twentieth rejection letter.
Yet as a writer, I’ve learned to develop a reptilian-like skin that was unbreakable, to not let rejection break me down. Because if you let it, it will destroy you and grow in you like an invasive plant killing a farmer’s crops. Nobody likes to be told their writing isn’t good enough. Many feel like they are being told that they are not good enough. But that’s simply not the case. Your writing may not be right for that particular company, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good—great even. Honestly, it is that publishing company’s loss when they turn down a promising piece of writing that is bound to be picked up elsewhere. I’m sure those who rejected J.K. Rowling are regretting that decision to this day.
When you face rejection, the worst thing you can do is to quit, to give up without putting in a fair fight. Successful writers have one thing in common: they never gave up. They kept sending in their proposals. They kept hustling and selling books out of the trunk of their car (this is actually how John Grisham began selling his first book). They hound publishing company after publishing company until one finally says yes.
And from experience, that first yes is worth all of the exhausting nights spent writing until four am, all of the rejection letters, all of the tears, all of the frustration. It’s all worth it. Because when you get that yes, it means someone believes in you, someone is willing to give you a chance, someone thinks your writing could be successful. And if you continue to fight, you may just become the next J.K Rolling or the next John Grisham. Who knows what path you are giving up and missing out on if you let that rejection letter defeat you.
So the next time you receive a rejection letter, think of it as an opportunity to improve your writing, to improve your marketing skills, to polish your manuscript. Don’t think of it as rejection, but think of it as reinvigoration, renewed strength to keep going, this time even harder. Don’t ever stop trying. Because the second you give up, that rejection letter won. Don’t let that four-letter word define you. Let it renew that passion in you, that passion that pushed you to start writing in the first place, and allow that fervor to propel you into success.
A horrific murder in a picturesque suburban neighborhood forever alters the destiny of the Banks family. When Craig Banks is found with a bloody knife weeping over his sister’s lifeless body, the eyewitness account from his brother Chad makes for an open-and-shut case. Sitting on death row for first-degree murder, Craig loses everything he loves: his fiancée, his friends, his law career, and any chance at a future. Even if he did manage to be released, he would never be treated the same. Despite the overwhelmingly incriminating evidence against him, Craig’s mother never misses a Sunday visit, and her faith in him allows him to continue his life, even if it is a life behind bars. When new revelations about the murder of Lizzie Banks surface, can forgiveness and unconditional love overcome the ultimate betrayal?
Ever since Kristin George was young, she has harbored a passion and a love for reading and writing and that passion translated into her college studies and life pursuit. In just five short years, Kristin received both a BA and an MA in English with a concentration of Professional Writing and Rhetoric from George Mason University.
Since then, Kristin has had a murder mystery titled Bitter Disconnect published by eLectio Publishing, has published a children’s book entitled Ruger Tails, and has had nineteen articles published in various online magazines. She is currently a freelance writer and editor.