On Writing: Seven degrees of rejection

snoopy rejection

1) Standard form rejection based on partial, five minutes after you pressed send.

2) Standard form rejection based on partial.

3) Personalised rejection based on partial (you’ve got talent variety).

4) Standard form rejection based on full.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”  W. C. Fields

5) Personalised rejection based on full (I didn’t buy into this aspect, but it’s a good idea).

6) Personalised rejection based on full (send us your next one).

7) Personalised rejection after you have resubmitted the same novel, which they asked you to edit further.

“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”  Isaac Asimov

This time I made no. 5. The higher the number the higher the hurt; 5 hurts pretty bad.

The only way to avoid it is either a) be a genius or b) don’t submit.

I’m working on a) and considering b).

And yes I know, it is only one agent. It doesn’t mean others won’t love it, but my writing ego is soft and easily wounded. I have to learn to toughen up because the alternative is not to write, and I can’t imagine not.

“After rejection – misery, then thoughts of revenge, and finally, oh well, another try elsewhere.”  Mason Cooley

What number have you got to? Do you struggle to send your novel out again?

“If you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.”  Dolly Parton


10 thoughts on “On Writing: Seven degrees of rejection”

  1. There’s a long history of agents/publishers passing up a best seller, which among other things, is what sent me to b). I used to seek the acknowledgment and prestige that comes with a recognised publisher, but now I relish the opportunities that self-publishing gives me. The world has changed.
    Congratulations on getting to 5. Not many make it that far.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Juli. I will certainly contemplate self publishing, but as I said over on Authonomy, not as reaction to rejection. I will send it out again, once I’ve got my next novel underway – that way, I have something else to focus on, making rejection less scary. Depending on how those subs go, will help me decide what to do. It may well be there is a flaw in the novel that I can’t see – time is the cure for that. Or it maybe the story is not mainstream enough to make it an attractive enough proposition. If the latter is the case, then I will need to pay for an editor (for structural advice), and copy editing and proof reading. If I am going to publish it, then it has to be as professional as if it were being published through a traditional publisher.

  3. I hear you. The whole thing is very strange, but I agree with the person above. When I get a like on a story or an essay on WordPress and it comes from someone who’s work I admire then I’m satisfied, for the moment. I’m self published and I’ve sold a few copies so someone likes what and how I write. I just want to get better at it so more people will enjoy what I write. Be well, be happy and DFTBA. Terry.

  4. Sorry to hear this, Juliet, and it’s extra disappointing when you’ve had that initial interest gone sour. But it is just one person’s opinion.
    I’d like to say just send it straight out again to the next agent on your list, or the next half-dozen, but who am I to be so optimistic? My novel is leering at me from the desk (my Christmas present to myself was a proper printed version of the current draft to make editing more appealing), calling out that there’s not too much work to be done before I can send it out to agents. Yet I feel as if I’ve been through all seven versions of rejection before I start scribbling over those pages with my pencil.
    Self publishing seems to be getting more and more common but to me it feels just like moving the potential for rejection on the agent to the reader. I’m not sure how I’d handle the marketing when I can’t even promote my blog! Presumably you have a strategy for yours, Juli?
    That said, I’m not sure there’s that much difference in sales between self publishing and the small presses. Alison Moore was saying at an event this weekend that the original print run for The Lighthouse was 105 or 107 (her imprecision, not mine, perhaps that she didn’t say just over 100 should be classed as precise).
    I’d say forget about writing for the moment, enjoy the sunshine.

  5. Thanks for coming by Anne. Funnily enough, the first week after she said no, I couldn’t write a thing – hated it, but then I settled down to read Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer, and before I knew an idea was tapping away in my head. I’m going to send the novel out again, after some distance and another read through, but in the meantime I going to work on this new idea. Writing excites me, so rejection or not I am going to keep doing it. Maybe I am naive or overly optimistic,but maybe the next thing I’ll write will be the one 🙂

  6. Definitely keep sending it out, Juliet. You’re an excellent writer, and as Anne said, each rejection is just that one person’s opinion.
    I’m excited that you’ve begun something new and look forward to reading it. Like you, each time I think, ‘why bother – I should give up,’ I realise that I love to write and that’s what counts.
    Anne, I do have a strategy. I am linked to many interest groups and I’m almost sure they will approve of the underlying subject matter, so I’m counting on them to be my initial market. Whether I can pull it off is another matter, but I have to try. 🙂

  7. I am trying a different approach to this one Juli – again courtesy of Dorothea Brande. I am planning the novel more thoroughly, writing a long synopsis and planning scenes in the novel. I am also getting to know each character and writing them a full back story, first. The idea is definitely growing, rather than diminishing, as some ideas do when you actually examine them. And yes, i am really enjoying the process, but then I always do at the start. It is only when the novel is written and it is not as good as the one in my head that I begin to loathe it 🙂

  8. I think that’s a great plan. I plotted and planned Absent Children extensively. The characters sometimes changed those plans, but that was a good thing.
    How can you ever loathe one of your books??? Let that go.

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