Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More on rejection

Wow, it's been a week since I received a rejection notice from an agent.  I must be slowing down. 

A friend on Facebook introduced me to the site over the weekend.  I know that I should stand on my own work's merits, confident in its quality, certain that each rejection merely serves as another stone on the pathway to the eventual success that I'll achieve.  Doesn't work that way, though.  It's really quite easy, I'm finding, to grow bored or depressed--or both--with the process. 

It's good, then, to be able to read over the rejections that others have received, and the site I was shown provides that goodness in spades.  Somebody actually told William Faulkner, "Good God, I can’t publish this!" 

Grisham and Irving Stone were both, according to the site, rejected by agents 16 times.  Dune, by Frank Herbert, was rejected 20 times.  One of my favorite childhood stories, A Wrinkle in Time, by 26.  Gone With The Wind, 38.  The Princess Diaries, 17.  The Help, 60. 

The author of Lady Chatterley's Lover was told, "for your own sake do not publish this book."

Ms. Rowling took 5 years to find a publisher for our friend, Harry Potter.  

What the grand tales of rejection don't talk about is how the efforts changed over time.  Take The Help, for instance.  Were all 60 rejections based off the same query letter, or did Ms. Stockett send out the first few query letters, get smacked in the face with a bunch of no's, and then revise it as I have mine?  Probably the latter; I don't know of a single successful author who doesn't revise his or her own work, but it may in truth be a case where the first query letter was as good as she could make it and thus it was what she kept sending out.  I don't know; that's never part of the success story. 

Speaking of success stories--I need to go revise my letter.  Need more rejections if I'm ever going to get a yes. 


  1. I just discovered your blog today and became a follower. I am not as far along the way as you are. I am still editing/revising the second draft with querying somewhere off in the future.

    I am reading your interesting back posts, trying to understand what your book is about. I am assuming it's in a genre very different from my own, however, our writing experiences may be quite similar (having to work a full time job and then trying still to have some creative time to make progress on the story, etc.)


  2. Good to meet you, Ellis. I think most writers' experiences are like ours. It's easy to just close yourself up in a room and be a writer all day if you have no bills that need servicing, but I do. As I point out in at least one of my posts, so did Stephen King, who taught full time and wrote in the morning on a typewriter propped on a board on his washing machine, and Dan Brown, who actually worked two teaching jobs while he wrote. It's tough, but after a while it actually becomes a somewhat pleasant rhythm.

    Glad to hear you're in the revising stage. Take your time with this one, as everything I see suggests it's the most vital. You're not going to get that many chances to have agents look at it, so it needs to be as good as it possibly can be.

    Appreciate the follow, and in turn I'm pleased to now be a follower of yours. You're right that we're in different genres; I'm pretty much a mainstream epic fantasy and science fiction writer. Good luck with your book!