Saturday, November 13, 2010

The 7 Rules Part III: Rejection

Everyone faces rejection. EVERYONE. The trick is learning how to deal with it. I’m going to put myself out there for censure and admit that I’ve been rejected on fulls nine times by agents this year. To some of you, that might not sound like a lot. To others, you’re likely appalled at the high number and will think there's something seriously wrong with me.

I can't tell you what to think of me, but I can share the seven rules of rejection I've gleaned from my experiences*.


1. Never send anything out until you receive that cue deep within your gut.
I’ve done it. Many of us have. But as your friend, I’m here to tell you DON’T be the one to do it. That’s right—I’m here to call a query intervention. Don’t submit until you are sure you are ready—not when a friend says it’s “good enough,” not when your mother tells you that it’s the editor’s job to fix it up for you. Listen to yourself and your book. You owe it to that book to make it the best it can be. And if you don’t know how to do that, then learn how. (These are all the tough words I tell myself when I’m in the ring—a.k.a. boxing it out with rejection.) Also, once you are ready to submit, research each house/editor/agent thoroughly to make sure your book could be a potential fit.


2. Recognize your writer’s weaknesses as well as your strengths.
Having said number one, I also want to point out you need to be positive. Pat yourself on the back for the things you know you’ve done well. Because you do have strong points whether it be great characterization, a beautiful platform, killer plot, or the perfect writing desk. There’s always something to be hopeful about!
3. You’re allowed one day to grieve the rejection then pick yourself up and work the next day.
Just like a bad break-up, rejection is a huge blow to your confidence. It’s okay that it hurts, but the next thing to do is pick yourself back up and get in the ring again. Before I married my husband, I allowed myself one day to mope over a boyfriend break-up. After that, I forced myself back to work and back to life. I do the same with rejection—I’m down for a day while I massage my hurt feelings with chocolate, long walks, and ice cream then it is back to the drawing board tomorrow.


4. Find the silver lining in the big R.
Not only can rejections have positive things written in them, but rejections can be positive in and of themselves. Much like a marriage, you want to be hitched to the very best person for you and you want to present your very best craft to that person as well. For example, my latest rejection was one of the harshest I’ve yet received. However, it was the most helpful. It opened my eyes to what was specifically wrong with the book and areas I needed to improve as a writer overall. Now I’m working on improving my craft so that I can be the kind of writer I have the potential to be. So, see? That rejection is helping me be a better writer which softened the blow of the rejection. (I didn’t even mope for a day!) To some of you, that won’t sound like a positive thing, but I really do want to be the best I can be and I appreciated her pointing out my weaknesses to help me get to that level. No one had ever been that brave before.


5. Reevaluate the things that matter most.
Writing is very important to us. BUT! It’s not the end all of end all. We have other aspects of our lives—family, friends, jobs, hobbies, etc. Keeping rejection in perspective to the grand scheme of our lives can keep us from feeling the dire, hopelessness some feel with rejection.


6. Remember entertainment is one of the most subjective fields out there.
Just as not all taste buds are the same, so are people’s tastes in books (or any entertainment for that matter). You may like eggplant while another likes parsnips. When you go to the movies with a friend, they may love the movie while you hate it. The same goes for your book. Keep that in mind when you see those three little words, “not for me”. Because truly, the book is probably not something they could fall in love with as you have. (And you really need someone who can eat that eggplant with you every day.)


7. After the sting, comes the growth.
I mentioned I go right back to work, but if the sting on that same book is still too strong, I work on something else. It’s okay to let a book sit for awhile. In fact, the best medicine for a rejection is having another book to work on. If I’m fired up about another story, the rejection doesn’t hurt nearly as bad. The feeling is better than dating a rebound boyfriend. You’ve got other options—they’re good—and you know it! …Besides, time will heal the pain from the other book and you’ll be able to look at it again. It won’t abandon you like last month’s love affair and instead waits patiently on the shelf for its turn with you.


So… what helps you deal with rejection? How do you know when you’re ready or will be ready to submit?


*Disclaimer: These are rules for my own life. Feel free to take any you find useful, but I encourage you to come up with your own rules and stick to them.

AS A SIDE NOTE, THIS IS MY 198TH POST! WHICH MEANS POST AFTER NEXT I'LL BE DOING A HUGE GIVEAWAY. STAY TUNED FOR DEETS...

35 comments:

  1. Good rules! I'm a reluctant querier. I only sent out 5 queries. I had 2 requests for fulls and although they both passed, they both offered great feedback. I realized the story needed some work - their feedback made total sense. It did take me some time to absorb it all (more time than I expected), but I'm hoping to make the story stronger with their words of advice.

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  2. First of all, I'm sorry to read about your rejections. I know it stings, but you're approaching the situation in a positive way. Although I haven't been rejected by an industry professional (yet), fellow writers on a critique site have ripped my work apart. At first, I was disillusioned, but then I bought several books, read about point of view and character development, took two work shops and re-outlined my entire novel. The process took about three months, but it was worth it. Now, IMHO, my draft is more cogent and flows better than the first one. I learned a lot and am better for the harsh critique I received. Also, I just recieved a thumbs up by the same people, so at least I'm headed in the right direction. I hope your rejections help you as much as mine helped me. Best of luck on publishing your novel.

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  3. Congrats on your 198th post!

    Great rules on rejection, Jackee. The number one rule for me is to always remember that rejection isn't personal. It's stings much less when I think of it like that.

    Jai

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  4. Just so you know, my first reaction to your personal stats was, "Wow! She's been asked for a full NINE times~ that's great!"

    I think I'm most guilty of getting excited and sending out a few queries to "test the waters" before revisions are done. Then, if I get a request, I'm not sending my best work. I'm working on that.

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  5. I am bookmarking this post because I think this is the BEST and most helpful post about rejection I've ever read. Thanks. :)

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  6. hi miss jackee! i like what you said lots of this. i read lots of blogs where writers got rejected and how much it hurts. they could all need to read what you said. i didnt ever get a reject cause i didnt ever send a book in but i could think it for sure could sting. i like that number 5 rule cause its like sometime i see that writer are like the world is gonna end if they dont get published and they forgot they got a good world already around them. yikes! 198 posts! thats a ton for sure. i cant wait for that giveaway! i hope you have a really nice weekend.
    ...big hugs from lenny

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  7. I'm sorry to read about your latest rejection but it's great that you're able to see the silver lining too and it's great to see you have these rules to help you! yay!

    I tend to wallow and it takes me longer than a day to scrape myself off the bottom of the barrel - and that's with a lot of help from chocolate and el vino! :-)

    Take care
    x

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  8. These are wonderful rules and advice to deal with rejections. I love #1, in particular. My biggest fear is always sending things out too early, before the manuscript is ready.

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  9. Congratulations at reaching nearly 200 posts.

    Rejection is tough. Your tips are solid and your attitude about rejection is good. I think many people will find them helpful.

    After this round of queries, if I get no bites I'm going to have to reread my manuscript. Meanwhile, when I have time, I'm writing something new with all that I've learned.

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  10. Wow 198 posts! Awesome. Rejections are rough but it's so important to only let them get you down for a little bit and to trudge on forward.

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  11. Rejection is just part of it.

    A long time ago, there was a lady in my writing group whose son was (is) an actor (actually, the son is a pretty famous actor these days.) She said that he had to audition and get rejected to his face all the time. It made sending out manuscripts and getting rejected by mail not seem so bad.

    I KNOW that everything I write isn't right for everyone. But there are still things I want to write and so I do. Sometimes they sell, sometimes not. But the act of writing them made me a better person/writer.

    Shelley

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  12. Congrats on 198 posts! You've got some great rules here. It is so, so painful to wait until the book is truly ready, but absolutely necessary. I'm trying to be patient...

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  13. First, congratulations on nine requests for fulls. That is awesome! I love that you learned from your rejections. I feel the same way. Every rejection is a step closer to an acceptance...You just have to learn something each time. Thanks for sharing your journey. :)

    Congratulations on 198 posts. That's a lot of quality posts! I hope you have a wonderful week...

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  14. These are 7 awesome rules, and way to go on submitting to all those agents. So what about rejections-- the only way to get no rejections is to not submit, i.e. the chicken's way out.

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  15. That gut feeling is usually the one telling me to submit, and though I haven't submitted a book only flash fiction and poems, this is some great advice!
    Thank you so much :)

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  16. I think 9 fulls is awesome. I've had rejections on fulls and they aren't easy. I usually can't write for atleast 24 hours. I watch television and wait for the sick feeling in my stomach to fade and some measure of confidence to return. Those are great lessons and so so true!

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  17. I really liked this post! Especially being married to a writed who takes rejection pretty hard... You definitely have a positive outlook on the whole process! And I like the picture at the top :)

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  18. I haven't submitted anything yet, so I don't know how I'll react. But tidbits of advice like this help give me an idea of how I want to react. ;)

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  19. It's kind of a glass half-empty/half-full type of thing. NINE FULLS OUT WITH AGENTS-- that's amazing!!

    I love your rules, especially the first one. That's where I failed myself the last two times I queried. I let impatience get the best of me. I'm trying to do better this time. *sigh*

    Amy

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  20. I'm bracing myself to start queries for my novel in January, so these rules were helpful to read. I try to think of rejection as part of a process. I will send out 150 queries (in waves of 10 so I can hear back and see what's not working), and I'm hoping that after that long a list, somebody will bite. Without fail, I will definitely learn a lot.

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  21. I was just talking to another writer about this. Her advice, which was given to her way back, was "Assume rejection, and have that next envelope-email-address-submission ready for the next round!"

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  22. This is a great post--wonderful tips!!!! I got so beaten down with rejections, I wanted to quit. Good thing I had a writerly bud (further along in the process) to pull me away from the ledge. Once things were put in perspective, I had a renewed interest in becoming a better writer.

    I agree with your tips here--they certainly helped me! :D

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  23. These are great rules. I've been in the position of querying too soon after my crit group went through my ms. No one told me it wasn't ready. Fortunately an agent did. I've spent the past year learning to become a better writer. I'm still learning (I never want to stop learning), but I've come a long way at least. :D

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  24. These are wonderful. Thank you for sharing from your experience. I particularly like #7. So very important and true. (Not sure how I wasn't following you. I just corrected that issue. Looking forward to chatting more.)

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  25. I can empathise and the rules are great though there are times when grieving the rejection can take me a week when the weather is dismally wet, cold and gloomy :O)

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  27. Perfect rules--especially number six. I'm learning that one over and over. I take a day for rejection and then move on. More to learn, more to grow:)

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  28. You make excellent points. There is always a silver lining in any rejection you may receive. The fact that some1 took the time to contact you & point something out which will make your book even better is a huge plus.

    Thanks for writing about this important topic as writers of all levels can benefit from this.

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  29. Super rules! I love them. And the picture had me laughing milk out my nose! hee hee.

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  30. As a writer promoting and selling your goods, you cannot be afraid of rejection. That doesn't mean it won't hurt. It does. You have to move forward anyway. Thanks God for my editor who cleaned up my scrapheap of a query letter and turned it from a diamond in the rough into a polished gem!

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  31. This is great, Jackee - I especially like the query intervention! I do get very impatient and send things out before they're ready, so I need to take a deep breath and tell myself to relax. I also think it's important to have a day to feel down, but to pick yourself up and move on!

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  32. This is one of the best posts I've read on this subject. Such great advice. I allow myself to feel down for a day or so, but then I also get back to work. These books won't write and polish themselves, and there's always plenty of work to do.

    I'm tweeting this!

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  33. Bravo to you for putting yourself out there. Nine fulls, wow. First, I'm impressed that you had nine requests, that means you're definitely doing something right! The fact that you remain positive about it speaks volumes about your growth as a writer.

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  34. Wow, I'm impressed you had so many requests for a full. You must be doing so many things right! And it's great that you've got specific feedback to help you improve things :)

    I really like your rules, great post.

    Rach

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  35. Love the rules! Thanks for sharing your personal experience and history with rejection (why don't more writer's share this? we all experience it and it is SO helpful!)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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