Writers submit manuscripts and get knock backs. It’s a fact of life that even multi-published authors have to deal with. Unless you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling (which I’m not) there’s a chance that your latest offering won’t be adored by the first publisher who looks at it. Intellectually I know that. But the heart and the head don’t always agree. When I started off in this business twenty years ago, rejection felt like this to me:
What? My precious baby isn’t what you’re looking for? How could you say that? I slaved over that manuscript. I poured my life-blood into it. I just offered you my heart on a platter and you stabbed it. Several times. Soon to be followed by: Does this mean I’m a crap writer? Maybe I should just stop kidding myself. Publishers know what they’re talking about. I’m just a woman sitting in her pajamas drinking too much coffee, fantasizing about worlds that don’t exist. I should get a day job. Something I’d be good at. Because I’m clearly no good at this…
Thankfully time has moved on, and many, many rejections have helped me re-frame my reaction to a “Thanks, but no thanks,” email. I’ve learned that publishers see lots of manuscripts that are of “publication standard” and from among them they have to choose something that not only suits the line of books they’re publishing, but also knocks their socks off. For most publishers, the choice to take on a book is quite subjective. I can’t have any control over that. I can only offer my best work and have faith that it will (eventually) fall into the right hands. Which of course it does.
Now I’m more likely to think this when I get a rejection email:
I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to consider my story seriously. I understand that not all publishers or even all fantasy readers will love my work. I’ve seen the different reactions to a novel at Book Clubs. So what I’m looking for is the one publisher who adores my story so much that they’ll advocate for it with their marketing department and fire them up with enthusiasm enough to spill over into their interactions with bookstores and online resources. I’m sorry you’re not that person, and that you’ll miss out on the unique opportunities my story offers. But I wish you well as I continue my search, having patience that the Universe moves in perfect timing. All is well in my world…
Yes, it’s a bit Pollyanna, but it works for me, and not only with writing, but personal relationships and other business dealings I might have. I’m not an “I’ll show those bastards!” type of girl. But if you are, you are going to love this latest offering from Marie Forleo who I thoroughly recommend as an inspiration and a resource for women in business. Her reaction to a patronizing comment is priceless:
I wonder, how do you cope with rejection in your life? Does it fire you up? Have you got any tips on how to turn it into motivation to keep going?