This month, I asked the All about Submissions team the following questions: How do you cope with rejections? What do you do with the rejection letters – even if they are just form letters? I will share some of their answers today and the rest tomorrow. Please feel free to comment and share your tips for coping with rejections.
I would like to introduce our newest team member, Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster. Welcome Heather.
As always, a big thank you to all that took the time to share their answers to this month’s questions.
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Kirsti Call, Children’s Author
The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall!
Rejection is proof that I’m writing. Rejection is proof that I’m submitting! Rejection gives me one less publisher or agent to send that particular manuscript to! I have dozens or maybe even hundreds of rejections and I keep every one of them. Even form letters are concrete evidence of my dedication to writing stories for children. And somehow, with each rejection, I feel like I’m one step closer to finding the right publisher.
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Author of SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK) (Viking Children’s, 2015)
Represented by Danielle Smith
I am someone who suffered from severe submit-o-phobia for two years. It was good. I am grateful for my fear of rejection, because otherwise I would have submitted some truly awful stories. But as I was working on writing, and knowing I wasn’t ready yet, I’d see friends complaining about rejections, and I was so jealous. I wanted to be ready to submit things! I couldn’t wait until I was far enough along to actually start getting rejections. That was the next phase on the horizon that I could see: submitting stuff, getting rejections. And I knew I wasn’t there yet.
So when I did finally started submitting, I honestly didn’t mind getting rejections. I mean, well, sure, I minded a little. But I knew every rejection just meant the agent and I weren’t a good fit. I was so happy to finally be at a point where I was getting rejections. I found the waiting-for-rejections to be a lot harder than the rejections.
I kept all of my rejections. Some of them were very nice ones, and I would go back and reread them for encouragement. I don’t know what it means that I am someone who read rejections for encouragement, but it’s true.
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Heather Ayris Burnell, Author
Represented by Sean McCarthy Literary Agency
To me, rejection is just part of the process of becoming published. Statistically speaking, it takes a lot of rejection to get to an acceptance. When we send our work out for consideration we are competing against hundreds of other talented writers and their work. There are so many factors that are out of our control once we send our work for consideration. The piece we send not only has to be the best of the best, it has to reach the right person at the right time and fit into their vision, whether it be an agent building their list or a publisher looking for that next great book to publish. Being rejected means you are getting your work out there and trying to reach your goal of publication. That is a positive thing! When I get a rejection, I let myself have that “oh darn” moment but I don’t dwell on it. I read the reply a couple times to let it sink in (I always seem to skim on the first couple of reads), take note in my submission log, move on, and keep on working toward my goal. Sure, I might switch up my query letter if I keep getting forms or do some revising if I get suggestions.
Rejections don’t have to hold you back. They can help you gain insight that can keep you moving forward in a positive direction.
I do think you can have some fun with rejection letters. Why not? I have a lot of ideas of what to do with them, I even wrote a post, Fun with Rejections! I’m saving mine up for a piñata and am hoping to have a big party with a bunch of my writer friends someday. Not sure exactly what I’ll fill the piñata with. Pens…notepads…chocolate? There will definitely be chocolate!
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Elaine Kiely Kearns, Children’s Writer
After much reflection upon this question I can only answer in one way: rejection sucks, people. It stings, it burns, it makes us feel like we are inadequate and that our writing is subpar.
And of course, anyone reading this post also knows that rejection is a part of this wacky, wonderful path to publication. Getting your manuscript snatched up by an agent or an editor right out of the gate is unrealistic. Of course it happens, but it’s rare. I am guessing that it would be easier to win the lottery – twice.
So what do we do with all of this rejection? How do we cope?
Well, first of all, we have to learn to take comfort in knowing that it is just part of the process. It’s business. Just business. When you look at it like that, it’s so much easier to accept. Another rejection? Who cares! Onward! (Especially if it was the standard form letter rejection.)
However, if you received some notes from an editor or agent on your manuscript, Congratulations! If an agent or editor has taken the time to give you feedback, I would take that as a sign that you are getting closer. A lot closer. Agents and editors do not have the time to give feedback, so even though it’s a pass, be grateful that they thought enough of your manuscript to give you a little bit of something to go on. Celebrate!
The last thing you can do is to arm yourself with information and become familiar with an agent and editor’s job. Wait, what?! Why? Well, if you put yourself in their shoes, you will see that the rejection you’re receiving isn’t personal. Publishing, after all, is a business. That’s the bottom line, and sometimes we need to remind our creative brains of that fact. Your writing may be strong and entertaining, but for a myriad of other reasons, it may just not be the right time for them to accept it. If you understand where they are coming from, it’s much easier to understand and accept that painful sting.
And ultimately, won’t it be that much sweeter when your deal finally does come through? Just think of all the hope you’ll be able to give to those who come after you when they ask, “Did you get a lot of rejections before your ‘yes’?” And you’ll say, “Yeah, a lot. Hang in there, it will happen for you too!”
“You never really fail until you quit.”- Anonymous
For more information about agents, editors and rejection visit: http://www.kidlit411.com/2014/01/kidlit411-submission-how-to.html
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Marcie Flinchum Atkins, Children’s and YA Writer
Marcie wasn’t able to contribute this month, but Marcie, ten other writers (many you may know), and I discuss “Dealing with rejections” on her blog. Here are the links:
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Alayne Kay Christian, Award Winning Children’s Author
Represented by Erzsi Deak, Hen&ink Literary Studio
Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will offer links to a couple of my previous posts about rejections below.
This partly humorous and partly inspiring post offers the yin and yang of coping with rejections.
This post talks about how taste influences rejections and acceptance.
From Marcie Flinchum Atkin’s blog: WHAT’S SO LOVELY ABOUT WRITING FOR CHILDREN? While all the writers’ answers are inspiring, mine relates to rejections, so be sure to scroll down until you get to my answer.
- Teresa Robeson talks about growing out of the deep funk that rejections can induce.
- Sophia Mallonée and Cindy Williams Schrauben both share their thoughts on the many sides of rejections.
- Sylvia Liu gives her “numbers game” perspective along with sharing a bit about her favorite rejection.
- I share a bunch of inspirational links on topics such as new perspectives, turning your rejections into successes, and taking criticism like a pro.