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.