By Kim Carmichael
Seriously, there is no better way to talk about rejection than starting with the fact that at its very core it sucks. It bites the big one. Rejection can go f itself.
Many, many writers write about rejection. It’s a universal truth for authors sort of ingrained in us like “show don’t tell.” Everyone tells authors to develop a thick skin, they will tell rejection happens to everyone, and my favorite is that the world will cite a ton of famous authors who have also been rejected. Of course these authors are now famous so no offense…
That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really account for the fact that when rejection happens to you it is really painful.
I am an emotional person, but in all honesty when I decided to once again delve out of world of self-publishing to pursue my dream of landing a larger publisher, I thought I was prepared for rejection.
Apparently, I thought wrong.
There are different levels of rejection.
Nothing – Nothing is nothing, it usually doesn’t even blip my radar.
Form rejection – Form rejection is more of a shrug of the shoulders. It doesn’t offer anything useful. I doubt they even read it, and that is fine everyone is busy. It usually is just a letter saying the story isn’t right for them. It is better than nothing because at least you know.
Rejection with commentary – These can sting a little, but they can also teach you a lot. Commentary of any sort is supposed to be a gift so you have to look at it as such. Though I must say in the last 6 months I have been told by one publisher that my humor was too much and by another publisher my humor was just right, so again, you need to determine how much of this you will take to heart. What I will say with this type of rejection is that if you see a trend in the comments you probably need to look at your writing. What I usually do with these is forward them to my editor and let her make the call. However, let me go down saying that these are usually considered good rejections. How good and rejection ever got into the same sentence one can only guess, but it is true.
Rejection after request for more – This is a painful rejection. You put in your submission usually what is called a partial (Query letter, synopsis, first three chapters) and somehow the heavens opened up an editor saw your submission and liked it enough to request more. You smile, you dance, your hand shakes while you send the full manuscript. At this point in the game you think you are a shoe in only to get the horrible email telling you that the story wasn’t right for them. This one is a stinger. It really hurts right down to the core, and in all truth I didn’t think anything could get worse than that rejection until what happened to me last week….
I don’t even know how to classify this rejection.
The day before I finished a manuscript that got a request for a full and with conviction and pride hit send to my editor. I had been writing non stop to finish and needed a break. As I sat Saturday morning, I decided to some submissions on another manuscript.
The next day I get a personal email from the editor asking me if the story is still available (a good sign), once I say yes, I basically get told that she is going to submit to acquisitions but if it was up to her she would offer me a contract for a three book deal right then and there.
This is the point where I am trying not to get to excited. It is one of the publishers on my short list, I am over the moon.
Well, on Wednesday I was given possibly the worst rejection in that they have contracted another story similar and won’t be offering me the contract.
Even as I write this my eyes are welling up with tears.
It’s a strange feeling. Helpless, sad, desperate. You keep hoping that if you think about it long enough things will change, but they won’t. At some point you have to realize there is no contract coming, no celebration dinner, no happy dance at having achieved one of your goals. You are no better than where you started, in fact you may be much worse. It always feels like I’m the one who loses, the one not selected, the person a day late and a dollar short.
It took me quite a while to read the rest of the editor’s email. In fact, I didn’t read the rest of the editor’s email, I sent it to my editor/big sister/therapist and she asked me if I read the rest. There at the bottom, the editor asked me to write a story just for the publisher and she would even help me choose a plot.
Anyway last night I sent the editor two ideas for stories and I’m waiting to hear which one she likes better. (It seems a lot of a writer’s life is waiting for emails). I am trying to turn the rejection into an opportunity but its hard, I’m still sort of mourning what could have been, and even this morning had another good cry fest with my PA.
Authors are strange birds. We are emotional, we are full of description and feeling and everything is heightened.