Ah, sweet rejection

My goal for this year is to receive as many as rejections as possible. I can be a little—okay, a lot—perfectionistic about where and when I send out submissions, so the intention of this goal was to push me to accomplish the part of publishing that I can control, submitting, and let go of the part I can’t control, selling. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out so well, as it seems most places either aren’t even reading the work or are only replying if interested, and are thus denying me of the small satisfaction of the rejection letter as proof I did SOMETHING. So, I think I will have to revise my goal and tweak my process so that I can celebrate, and tangibly see, every submission, whether I receive an answer or not. How do you do that without wasting paper? I’d love to hear your ideas!
There’s some good news, though (well, kinda)! Yesterday I received a rejection letter for a very beginning-level easy reader I’d sent to Scholastic’s Cartwheel imprint. I suspected it was probably not perfectly right for them, but I love them so much I just had to try (fighting that perfection thing again). Well, it was a rejection, but it was personalized, friendly, and discussed my particular manuscript and why they decided to pass. In fact, I have to agree with their assessment, although I still believe there’s a place for this manuscript with a different list. So, yes, it’s a little disappointing, but I’ll still send out a big virtual thank you to Scholastic/Cartwheel. I finally have something for the rejection file, and can at least revel in the success of failing!

‘Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’ —Winston Churchill

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11 thoughts on “Ah, sweet rejection”

  1. Laurie, the writing world has changed since I started out. But a personalized note is certainly something to celebrate! One of my favorite editors STILL has not bought anything from me, but we’ve had many years of lovely correspondence.
    Have you read Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life? I borrowed one of her suggestions, which is to start writing lovely literary notes. So when I read a book I love, I write a note to the author and to the editor. I feel this is one way to keep connected — and to build a broader network.
    Keep writing. One of these days, you’ll get the kind of letter (or email or phone call) that will make you shout for joy.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Kirby! That’s an excellent idea, although I have a hard time believing you’re still getting any rejections from anyone. 😉
      I’ve been wanting to read that book since I first saw it mentioned on your blog–it sounds wonderful. I’ll definitely have to pick it up.

  2. Maybe you could get a calendar — or Microsoft Office has a way for you to print out calendar pages — and make a note on it every time you send in a submission. Something festive, with stickers? Then you can post it in your office and know you’re making submission progress!
    Chris Eboch
    Haunted: The Ghost on the Stairs, The Riverboat Phantom and The Knight in the Shadows
    Read the first chapters: http://www.chriseboch.com
    Write Like a Pro! A Free Online Writing Workshop: http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/

      • Yeah! You don’t even need to buy one; how about using one of the 75 free, beautiful-photography paper calendars I seem to get from the Wildlife Federation and so forth? You can buying those little boxes of school stars for almost nothing and give yourself a star for every submission on the day it goes out? Then if you DO get responses, you could put another color star on that day, too.
        Or… buy some fun beads and string a bead on a silk lanyard for every submission, another for every rejection. Make a groovy necklace or glasses holder or keychain or whatever from it!
        Or… start an Amazon/Powells wish list and put a book on it for every submission. When you get a rejection, you get to go buy one of them. (And B. can use it for other occasions, too.)
        At any rate, congrats on the terrific rejection. Those really are big milestones!

  3. Great post!
    Those personalized rejections can be a gold mine. I got one once, made changes based on the feedback, and sold the manuscript to the next place I sent it. (The other place had not invited me to revise and resubmit.)

  4. Hurray for you, Laurie!
    Perhaps you could celebrate each submission with a special something (ie. $ or chocolate) in a pretty little jar. Watch that jar fill up and either buy something fabulous for yourself or have a wonderful binge each time the jar fills up. A jar full of possibilities!
    Ah…sweet perfectionism. I’m scared to death of submitting, but I remind myself that if I don’t submit the answer is a definite “No”. Each submission puts my work into the realm of “maybe”. Maybe works better than “no” for me. Right now I’ve got a small handful of “maybes” in my figurative jar. It’s nervous-making, but also a happy place.
    See you soon!

  5. Try QueryTracker.net. For $20 a year, you can search for agents, simplify the research process, see how long they take to respond to others, email them, and then track your submission status by seeing how they are responding to people who submitted after you. Totally fantastic tool. And they have a great tool that lets you sort and filter your queries and submissions so you can see how many submissions you sent, how many queries you sent, how many rejections you received, how many non-responses, etc.

    • You betcha! I’ve been a subscriber for quite awhile and would also recommend it highly; it’s well worth the money. In terms of market research and targeting submissions, though, nothing beats Publishers Marketplace, in my opinion.


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