I’m just gonna come right out and say it: Rejection Sucks! It doesn’t matter the reason for the rejection, it still bleeds like the deep carving of barbed wire on sensitive skin. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of rejection — I’m a querying author. That’s right, I’m deliberately putting myself out there with full knowledge that rejection is certain to happen. Very few authors are fortunate enough to go through this process without encountering rejection. In fact, the only author I know who’s escaped mostly unscathed is P.S. Duffy whose debut novel, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land, only received one rejection. In fact, the author only sent out two query letters. I think I could use a little bit of her pixie dust.
Author Lorna Landvik once told me that she sent out so many queries for her first novel that she could’ve papered all of New York City. In truth, every time I begin to lose my confidence and think about giving up, I think about a few words of advice that Lorna gave me. She said (paraphrased) that she refused to accept no for an answer until it was her no. She would decide when it was time to say no. And so she persisted until her first novel was finally accepted by a small publisher. The rest is history. Landvik has gone on to publish some of my favorite novels.
Interestingly, J.K. Rowling got her fair share of rejections — long after she was the well-known and beloved author of the Harry Potter series — when she queried under the pen name Robert Galbraith. If memory serves, I believe I read that the same agent who soundly rejected the Harry Potter series also sent a scathing rejection for Rowling’s first book after the completion of the epic fantasy. His loss.
His loss. That leads me to my next thought. I’m currently querying for my young adult novel, In My Shoes, and have received more than my fair share of rejections. Each “no” deflates my balloon just a little further, until I begin to look a bit like Big Hero 6 when he’s been deflated. He looks a bit worse for wear and staggers around like a drunk vagrant.
In the end, each rejection comes back to one thought: his loss. I can mope around at the latest rejection, telling myself all kinds of negative things and second-guessing my manuscript; or, I can take a deep breath, remember how I felt about the finished product, and keep plugging forward. Each rejection is now his loss. I know this manuscript will get picked up. I have no doubt. It may not get picked up on my timeline, but someone will want it. In the meantime, I remember to tell myself of each rejection, his loss.
Some day I’m gonna look back on this query process with a smug, but humble, grin. Some day I feel sure that I’ll find the right agent and he/she will get it into the hands of the right publisher and onto the shelves of big bookstores. When that day comes, I’ll smile graciously and then remind myself, “Yup — it was definitely his loss.”