Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rejection is Not Fatal

There are many kinds of rejection, some more painful than others. Some say it is the measure of the person in how we respond to rejection.

As authors, most, if not all of us, must deal with rejection. Even the most successful authors have suffered the slings and arrows of being rejected by agents and/or publishers. Look at the following:

  • J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter suffered 12 rejections before finding a publisher willing to take a chance on the boy wizard.
  • Gertrude Stein submitted her poems to publishers for 22 years before finally having one published - talk about perseverance.
  • Madeline L’Engle submitted her manuscript entitled A Wrinkle in Time 26 times before getting it published and then won the Newbery Medal for it.
  • Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times before being accepted for publication.
All these authors were once aspiring authors. They all continued to submit even after being rejected time and time again. I might add that Stephen King, too, received a rejection and put the manuscript on the shelf.

Being the inveterate list maker that I am, I am keeping track of my rejections. When I first created the list, one thing stood out. One of my favorite books that I’ve written was rejected only once. I never submitted it again possibly because I love that story and those characters. Recently, I put it on my to do list - I’m going to revisit that book, do a hard-copy edit, and start resubmitting it again.

I’ve gotten over taking the rejections of my work personally. Now when I receive a rejection email, I simply add it to my spreadsheet. I look at the statistics and, if I feel myself about to spiral into the rejection black hole, I remind myself of two things. First, getting published is a business and rejections are a part of that business. Then I remind myself that Margaret Mitchell suffered through 38 rejections before getting GWTW published.

Finally, Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

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