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Friday, December 02, 2005

Rejection Letters Aren't All Bad

by Charlotte Dillon

They Didn't Give Up

Okay, you've gotten a rejection letter from an agent or editor. It feels awful! Maybe it was your first. Maybe it was number sixteen. Whichever it was, don't despair, you're standing in really good company, so don't give up. These authors didn't.

If you are a romance writer, and maybe even if you aren't, you've probably read -- or at least watched -- Margaret Mitchell's story, Gone with the Wind. Over 20 publishing houses tuned that little story down before it sold.

Who hasn't heard of John Grisham in this day and age. Did you know that the fist manuscript he wrote, A Time to Kill, was rejected 45 times before it was accepted?

Famous western novelist Louis L'Amour has sold countless books over the years. Many of his stories have been made into movies, like The Quick and the Dead -- the old one, not the newer version. His stories earned him over 300 rejections before he ever sold a book.

Mary Higgins Clark is well known by mystery fans all over the world. She kept wiring and sending out her novels, even after 40 rejections rolled in.

If you have children, you've probably spent at least a few hours with a Dr. Seuss book in hand. He was the proud owner of nearly 30 rejections, and that was just from one story.

Aren't you glad they filed those rejections away, and then kept on trying?

Rejection Letters Have Some Good Points

Getting a rejection from a publishing house -- or agent -- might leave you feeling depressed, sad, angry, and more. That's okay, let yourself sink into the biggest pity party known to man. Eat a ton of chocolate, watch a sad love story and cry your eyes out, sit around in your PJ's until noon, but don't spend too much time on that party. You have things to do, another publishing house to research, a new agent to check out, and that manuscript to get back in the mail. There is also that new story you should be working on.

Believe it or not, there are some good things you should remember about rejection. What good things? Let me list a few. Oh, and let me add congratulation on that rejection letter. You should be proud!
  1. That rejection letter means you are a REAL writer.
  2. You completed a manuscript. A whole story.
  3. You wrote both a query letter and a synopsis; something that can be harder than writing an entire novel.
  4. When you were done, you looked through guidelines and found a publishing house that printed your kind of story, or an agent who accepted the genre you write in..
  5. With dreams overflowing, you addressed that envelope and mailed your baby into the cold, hard world.
  6. You used up more patience than you even knew you possessed, watching that mail box and waiting to hear something, anything...probably for months.
  7. When you got that rejection, you didn't give up, or you wouldn't be here reading this.

The Steps on the Rejection Ladder

When you at last get brave enough to send out your manuscript, the rejection letter you might get could be the standard form letter. When I sent my first MS off about ten years ago, I thought it was filled with great writing! Now looking back, I know it was awful! It did get me my first rejection letter though.

Dear Author,

Thank you for thinking of DreamOn publishing, but at this time we feel your story does not fit our needs. Best of luck placing your work elsewhere.

The Editors

Notice I'm an author, but they don't use my name, nor do they mention the title of my MS, the real reason it was rejected -- it sucked dirt -- or even list an editor by name. Oh well. I kept writing, joined RWA and went to some meetings, started learning what I was doing wrong, did a little rewrite, and sent that baby out again.

Next rejection, please, one step up.

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Thank you for thinking of GettingBetter publishing, but at this time your story, Love at Last, does not fit our needs. Best of luck placing it with another house.

Assistant Editor,
April Noname

Lots of work later, I made it to the top step of the rejection letter. Ah the glory of it all. :-) Hopefully, sites like mine will help you skip at least the first kinds of rejection letters.

Dear Ms. Dillon,

I enjoyed reading Love Again, and find you have an impressive writing style, but I'm sorry to inform you that we can not accept your story at this time. Although you have strong characterization skills, and a powerful use of description, too much narrative slows your overall pace throughout the story. If you have any other manuscripts available, I would be happy to consider them.

All the best,

Senior Editor,
Pattie Loveme


Charlotte Dillon ~


4 comment(s):

Consider each rejection putting you one letter closer to a "yes"! Good luck.

By Blogger Helen, at 9:56 AM  

Exactly! Just a step in the process...

By Blogger klynn, at 7:21 PM  

I've got stacks and stacks of rejection letters, and I totally agree. Each one is just a step closer to the yes!

By Blogger Gena Showalter, at 4:51 PM  

It's a good idea to put together all their comments...and see what comes up again and again.

By Blogger crissachappell, at 9:45 AM  

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