February 18th, 2010 by Candace Havens
Rejected, Dejected?

This will be a brief topic for me, because to be honest, I don’t deal with rejection very well. I know in my head that it’s just business, but my heart is on that page. While I know I should wear my big girl panties and suck it up, I take it all personally.

That said, I have found some tricks to get me through the rough times. As soon as I’m done with one project, I move on to the next. If I keep my momentum moving forward and always on the next thing, it’s easier to say, “whatever,” when those rejections come in.

When they do come in, I give myself one day to be bummed. I can cry, eat chocolate, whine to my friends and then I have to shove all those crappy feelings up on a shelf and be done with it. Honestly, it isn’t easy, but it’s necessary in my world, which moves like a speeding bullet. I don’t really have a lot of time to be miserable, there’s so much to do. (Smile)

My friends and I came up with a fun thing. We have a beautiful hat and in it we’ve placed slips of paper. When you get a rejection you have to pick a piece of paper. They say everything from go and buy and new pair of shoes to rent Pride and Prejudice (Your version of choice.) It’s a positive way of looking at what really is “just business.” We go to dinner once a week and if you have something sucky to deal with, you get to pull a fun thing from the hat. Some weeks you get to pull more than one. We all laugh and it takes the sting out of it. We actually haven’t done that in a while. It’s time to find the hat again.

Whatever happens, don’t let it get you down. This business is subjective, so just keep moving on to the next thing. And remember it is a business. One agent/editor may not like your work, but there may be six others who do.

I’ll give you a good example. Before I had an agent, I had a chance to meet with an editor at a conference. She was interested in my work and asked to see it. She rejected me. A year later, with the help of my agent, I sold to another editor at the same house. That editor didn’t want to change a single thing with the book except the title.

Flash forward two years. That original editor who had rejected me became my editor when mine left to become an agent. When we first chatted she said, at the time I sent in my manuscript that sort of thing wasn’t selling in the marketplace. I never said anything, but always wanted to. The same time I sent mine in was about the time Mary Janice Davidson and Charlaine Harris hit big, but I never did.

The truth is, you don’t know why someone is going to pick something up. That first editor was nine months pregnant and liked that I made her laugh on the second page. She got me. Some day, someone will get you.

But you have to persevere and keep moving forward. Always. :)

Tell me what you do to get past those evil rejections?

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20 comments to “Rejected, Dejected?”

  1. Diamond
     · February 18th, 2010 at 6:11 am · Link

    I’m still new to publishing. I got my first rejection a few weeks ago. I’m told this is normal. I hope to get my first deal though soon.

  2. Shiloh Walker
     · February 18th, 2010 at 7:54 am · Link

    I expected it. I hope NOT to, but I expected it. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

    Since I’d already expected it, and had made plans what to do when it happened, it made it easier to go forward with the plans-at the time, the plan was to revise/rewrite and submit to an epublisher, who ended up accepting the book. After that, I pretty much hit the ground running and havent’ stopped since… :roll:

  3. Charlene Teglia
     · February 18th, 2010 at 8:13 am · Link

    Oh, I love the hat idea. I came across some advice before I started selling that you should have multiple markets in mind so you already knew who you’d send your story out to next if it came back. It’s good advice for a lot of reasons. It keeps you moving forward despite the initial emotional reaction that might cause you to shove a project in a drawer instead of trying again, and having multiple possibilities in mind keeps you from thinking you only have one shot to begin with.

  4. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 8:59 am · Link

    Diamond good for you. That’s a great attitude. :)

  5. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 9:00 am · Link

    Shiloh, You bring up a good point. It’s always good to have a plan. Obviously, yours worked out really well. :)

  6. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 9:02 am · Link

    Charlene, You are so right about moving forward. In the How to Get An Agent class I teach, I set up a system where you send out five queries, and when the first two come back, you send out two more. I just heard a story of a very famous author who had 300 rejections. Talk about sticking with it. :)

  7. Ally
     · February 18th, 2010 at 9:15 am · Link

    Well, I’m just starting out so far sent out 6 queries to agents and was turned down by 4 still waiting on the other two. I was disappointed at first, but keep moving on telling myself it’s just business. I had myself a piece of chocolate and moved on the good thing is I got some nice comments from the agents, they love the work, but just not what they were looking for right now. I just keep moving forward and have sent a partial to a publisher. The thing that helps is to keep moving forward with a plan. Get busy on your next manuscript keep busy it does help. I love the hat idea that’s great.

  8. Sybir St. John
     · February 18th, 2010 at 9:16 am · Link

    You know, years ago when I got that first rejection, I was happy because at least it made me a PRO member with RWA. I was hurt, but I needed that rejection to show I was writing. Now? JT and I have made a game out of it. We’re keeping tabs to see who can get the MOST rejections in the year.

    Because then, it’s just keep moving forward and it’s not as personal. With all the form rejection letters, it really CAN’T be personal. Someone will get my voice, my story eventually ;D In the meantime, I just keep writing and perfecting my voice.

    I send out 5 queries at a time. When those are back, I send out 5 more. Easier for me to track and keeps me on task. Plus, that way, if I need to edit/rewrite it, I can.

  9. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 9:58 am · Link

    Ally, It’s important to move forward. You have the right attitude. Also, if you’re getting good comments, you know these things go in cycles. What isn’t selling now, could be in two months. This business changes crazy fast. :)

  10. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 9:59 am · Link

    Sybir, That’s exactly what I teach about the five queries. I love that you’ve made it a game. What an awesome idea!

  11. Jen McAndrews
     · February 18th, 2010 at 11:50 am · Link

    Great post, Candace! Personally my method of dealing with rejection is denial. I do my best Scarlet O’Hara and tuck that rejection away for another day. But I love love love the hat idea. OK if I borrow it?

  12. Jason
     · February 18th, 2010 at 11:50 am · Link

    I’m just hoping to finish my first manuscript so I can get my first rejection LOL … Seriously though I’ve always believed in giving myself one day as well. And the next morning when I wake up I say it’s a new day and I move on. In most cases that works!

  13. Liz Matis
     · February 18th, 2010 at 12:12 pm · Link

    I try to focus on the positive in the rejection letter and learn from the negative. I do get to wallow in chocolate but hey I don’t need a reason for that!

  14. Kim Cresswell
     · February 18th, 2010 at 12:12 pm · Link

    Over the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve had two agents and a zillion rejections from publishers, editors and agents. lol

    Rejections have never really bothered me in the past. I understand they’re a subjective and this business isn’t easy.

    But the last one I received via my agent hit me hard and I stopped writing for a month. It was a rejection from my dream publisher (which I won’t name).

    “I can definitely see why you are working with Kim. She crafts a very intriguing story with great sexual tension and lots of action. Unfortunately, after many reads and much discussion, the overall consensus was the story is lacking a big hook to make it stand out on our list.”

    It was like being punched in the gut and all I saw was…so damn close…yet so far away. 😥

    Since then I’ve recovered, realizing I control my success and in this business you can’t give up. So I’m fighting back with something new and different for my agent, a four book series and hopefully this will be the project that sells. If not, on to the next. :)

  15. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 12:27 pm · Link

    Jen, I love. Stick your head in the sand. I’m all for anything that works. :)

  16. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 12:27 pm · Link

    Liz, I hear you on the chocolate, but it’s always nice to have an excuse. :)

  17. Candace Havens
     · February 18th, 2010 at 12:29 pm · Link

    Kim, It’s those ones that tell you how close you are, that hurt the most. I absolutely understand that. :) I’m so glad you picked yourself up, because if they were that interested, you know you have the right stuff. :) Fingers crossed that this new one is THE ONE for you. :)

  18. Lissa Matthews
     · February 18th, 2010 at 5:43 pm · Link

    I have the 24-hour rule, same as you. It does work.

    I also during that 24-hours indulge…romance movies, writing movies, chocolate, reading, whatever. Make the best of what sucks. Then move on.

    And, finally…I bitch, moan, groan, vent, curse, plot nefarious happenings for the one that rejected me.

    I am like you, I take it personally. It’s my time, my work, my pain, my late nights, my coffee addiction, my suck in a chair until it’s finished…it’s my life on that page. For the time it took me to write it, I lived it. And though this is a business, it’s still personal. Once the dust from disappointment settles and I can see clearly again, I’ll look at the rejection as objectively as I can. If there are comments on it, I’ll take them into consideration and see if the story can be improved upon. If there’s nothing on the page beyond ‘Thanks but no thanks’, I just try to move on.


  19. Elisa
     · February 18th, 2010 at 8:40 pm · Link

    You know, it’s the “thanks, but no thanks” form letters that throw me into such a tailspin in regards to rejections, but then again that’s all I’ve received so far – maybe I’d prefer those over the “it was so great except for this” rejection because it’s not such a bloody wound. But then again, I like to have something to work with and a blank rejection leaves me with nothing.

    I haven’t figured out my strategy yet. I’ve submitted, been rejected, and then didn’t really write again for months. It was time wasted, to be honest. I really like the hat idea, except I’d tweak it to having a list of books on my TBR pile (which I don’t read whilst writing) and whenever I get a rejection, I pull a book out of the hat and get to spend the day wallowing in a good read. I also like the idea of making the rejections list into a game. It’s certainly a better pick me up to say, “I’ve been rejected by 50 agents/editors/publishing houses this year!” than to say, “I’m writing but I haven’t been very successful lately”. Because honestly, it shows that I’m doing something.

    Hmm… I’m getting visions of achievement charts and multi-colored stars like they had in elementary school. I want one!

    Best of luck to everyone! :smile:

  20. Tracy Ward
     · February 18th, 2010 at 10:00 pm · Link

    A person much smarter than me once told me “cease expectations and you have everything.” Those are words I try really hard to live by and let me tell you, some days are better than others. The rejections aren’t that painful anymore though. Maybe my adopted philosophy is starting to work or maybe I’m just becoming jaded. While I might not take the rejections hard anymore, I also don’t get crazy excited over the requests- not that I’m not thankful, it’s just that I know it’ll happen when it’s supposed to :-).

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