Liars Club

Burning Question: How do you deal with REJECTION?

by Merry Jones on August 25, 2010

in Advice for Writers,Liars Club Philly,The Writing Life,Uncommitted

No question.  Rejection is cold.  It hurts.

Even while your ego hemorrhages all over the carpet, people will tell you it’s not personal.  It’s just business.  It happens to every author.  It’s the economy.  It’s the market.  It’s not the manuscript; it’s the times.  It’s that agents/editors have their heads up their ass.  It’s all about the latest trends; ten or twenty years ago, your work would have been a best-seller.

In fact, people who like you will tell you anything to make you stop bleeding on the rug.  But the truth is that, causes aside, rejection sucks.

And most writers get their shares of it.  People will tell you: writing requires thick skin and causes lots of scars.

My own first book, for example, was rejected 40 times.  Count them.  Forty “no thank you” letters.  Then, suddenly, it got two offers.  You might think that, after 40 rejections, a person would stop submitting.  But, without an agent, I kept on sending it out, had nothing but postage to lose, and would have kept going with it for a while, bruised and battered but trudging to the mailbox nonetheless.

Still, sometimes it becomes clear that a manuscript isn’t going to sell, for whatever reason.  That, unless you publish it yourself, it’s not going to be a book.

Then, you have to make a choice.  Are you going to imbibe a quantity of Scotch, go into hibernation and fade away?  Or are you going to bandage your sore ego, think objectively about what didn’t work and why the book didn’t sell, and get back to writing, applying those insights into your next work?

Then again, it’s not either/or.  You can choose both options: have some Scotch, hibernate, and get back to your life, which is writing.   Bearing in mind, of course, the potential impact of trends, the economy and the locations of certain agents’ and editors’ heads.

Any better ideas?  Send them along!

Liars Club Member Merry Jones is the author of the Zoe Hayes mystery series, including The Nanny Murders, The River Killings, The Deadly Neighbors, and The Borrowed and Blue Murders, as well as seven humor and non-fiction books, including I Love Him, But…, and Birthmothers: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Clara Gillow Clark August 25, 2010 at 7:58 am

Thanks so much for this post, Merry Jones! So wonderful that you didn’t give up. On this gray morning, it’s just what I needed to hear. xo

Stacia Friedman August 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm

When and how did you make the leap from submitting directly to publishers to having an agent? And was your experience with rejection any different once you weren’t submitting yourself?

Cordelia Frances Biddle August 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for addressing this gruesome situation, Merry. Sadly, it’s a writer’s reality, but our desire, our NEED to write is also a reality. We entered this business because we love words, and delving into characters’ psyches, because we’re constantly asking ourselves “What if…?” You can find those violent highs and lows (manic-depressive, anyone?) if you’re selling shoes. Not that I have anything against shoe salespeople, but I’d rather take a bunch of rejection notices than stare at corns and bunions all day.
Actually, I’d rather be wildly successful and wonder precisely how many weeks I have to endure being at the top of the NYT bestseller list.

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