I got my first personal rejection letter from an agent the other day.  It said, “You write well” but she didn’t connect with my work as she had “hoped.”

I’ve read it about fifty times, trying to analyze and pick apart the words, the tone.  Does she mean I write WELL? What did she hope?

Now that the manuscript is complete, the journey begins.  I hear about well-known works getting 400 rejections and so on before publication.  While that is encouraging that someday my work will find a home, I don’t like the idea of analyzing 400 rejection letters, picking apart their sentence structure like I’m a great decoder.

Thick skin. Balls. Nerves of Steel.  Phrases I’ve been told that are supposed to bring comfort in an odd way.  These are the things I must acquire, must integrate into my personality to keep moving ahead.

Thick skin. Balls. Nerves of Steel.  Here I come. I hope.


31 Responses to “Rejected!”

  1. Hang in there. Been there, done that, survived and got published. You’ll get a pretty thick skin before you know it. Keeping sending out your work!

  2. I had a friend who used to joke about papering his wall with rejection letters because he had so many of them. Don’t try to read to much into what any given individual says, unless you actually find it useful. That person, I don’t know if it was an agent or an editor, says “yes” or “no” based on their own needs, which is probably also a business decision for her. For all you know, “didn’t connect” might be a phrase she uses all the time when she doesn’t have a more concrete word.

    You don’t even need balls of steel or anything like that. You should think about how you’ve developed as a writer while working on this and invest your emotional energy into what you’re going to write next or what you’re writing now. Try to develop an attitude about sending out the manuscript that it’s something routine.

    At least that’s how I came to deal with sending my work to galleries. I’d make up the package, drop it in the mail, and not think about it again until the rejection came back. If you make less of an emotional investment in each submission, while still actually sending them out, you’ll be on less of an emotional roller-coaster when the response comes back.

    At first, I’d been so emotionally invested. I’d look up information about a gallery, find out what other artists they represented. When I found one where I thought my work would fit in well, I’d get so excited. Eventually, I had to learn to stop getting excited in first place, to look at my work differently when I was trying to sell it than when I was making it. Disassociate a bit, so to speak.

    • Great advice, truly. I’m still early on in this process, so the first few rejections are a roller coaster ride. I get so excited when someone says they’ll take a look at my work. Thanks for putting it into perspective!

  3. 5 BehindMyBooks

    I don’t know anything about publishing, but your work is brilliant! Keep pushing, and I look forward to being about to buy your book someday!

  4. your writing is sublime deliciousness. the perfect set of eyes will see it and ka-boooom!!! the world will be set ablaze.

  5. I’m impressed that you have something finished to send, and that you did it. When I can say I’ve done that it will be a huge deal! Even as I write this, I’m thinking, “Will I ever be able to say that….?”

    • It’s take me a long time to finish my memoir. And that dumb saying, “It’s never finished” is quite true. I could dink with it forever. Just plug away at it, bit by bit, and eventually you’ll have something solid to send. Promise!

  6. Hang in there. You’re a tough bird. I never got anywhere with my art…Just love making it.

  7. That’s one more rejection letter than I’ve gotten because I’ve never finished a manuscript and never submitted anything to any one.

    So there’s that.

  8. Hopefully you do not get 400 rejection letters! I don’t think I have thick enough skin for even one so you’re already really tough in my mind.

    • Yeah, I don’t know if I could handle 400. I”m getting some real good advice though from others who’ve been there before. Thanks for commenting!

  9. You’re talented. Without question, it’s only a matter of time and persistence. When I first started querying editors and publishers about running my column, I got at least 6 to 10 rejections a week. After I started querying online, I learned I could get rejected by every editor in an entire state all in one afternoon. (I wrote about it here: Keep writing. Keep sending it out. There’s a readership waiting for you who won’t know what hit them — and they’ll be glad for it 😉

    • Thanks for the support. It’s so easy to get down during this long process. I’ve heard very similar positive messages from other successful writers. So, I’ll keep the faith! Thanks again.

  10. 26 candace

    I just read a James Lee Burke novel, first time for this author. He’s won numerous awards and has been published for decades but in his bio was a bit about how his first novel had been rejected 111 times over a period of 9 years. When it was finally published it was nominated for a pulitzer, and the rest as said was history. The internet changes everything

  11. 28 lucewriter

    It will happen for you–I can just feel it! I think it’s a matter of not giving up and in the meantime, continuing to read and learn and sometimes you get epiphanies for even small changes you can make that can make a big difference. So, in my mind, it’s both being persistent and being willing to make ongoing revisions, if necessary. On another note, I cannot figure out where anybody would find 400+ agents to send a book! How many agents are out there?! That is actually encouraging to me. It’s not like some little finite group of agents I can run through real fast! 😉

    • Thanks lucewriter for the kind words. Trying to keep up the faith!

      • 30 lucewriter

        I also always figure it’s kind of like competitions. So often who wins–singing, dancing, whatever–I think, WHAT? What about so-and-so? Our time will come . . .

      • Thanks lucewriter. I have times where I feel that, too. It’s just a hard business. I do have hope. It’s just hard to find sometimes!

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