The Rejection Letter Every New Author Should Want

Ahh, rejection letters – a necessary evil. They’re part of the sometimes grueling process of querying/submitting work for publication. (Some people are exceptionally talented right off the bat and/or really lucky.) As you know, I’m seeking representation for my very first novel, Bloodfire. I have been working on this thing for years. I spent two years just in revision, and only did that “part time” where I could find a few free minutes. (I am, after all, a mom, house maker, and undergraduate student who works retail.) Yes, I’ve poured my heart and soul into this book – but I’m well aware that sometimes that’s just not enough.

This is one of those times.

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I’ve gotten about ten rejections so far, some offering reasoning behind the decision, but usually just a general answer like:

“This sounds intriguing, but I’m afraid it’s not right for me at this time.” – Most literary agents who have responded. (Nothing personal to said agents.)

If they weren’t emails, I’d probably burn them.

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Yes, it hurts a little bit to be rejected when you work so hard on something for so long, but if you keep yourself realistic and expect those rejections (after all, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times before it was published, and Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times; I’ve got a bit of catching up to do), then it will hurt a little less.

The worst rejections are the ones that go unacknowledged. You know, the responses that you don’t get. They could mean the agent/acquisitions editor is far too busy to respond to anything but the works they actually want. They could also mean they think your writing is crap. That’s when I start doubting myself. I start thinking that I need to keep my day job. You know how it is. I love my friends and family for all of the support they give, but sometimes you just need to hear what someone who hasn’t a clue who you are has to say.

So when you are granted the courtesy of a detailed rejection letter like the one I received today, treat that sucker like GOLD. Obviously there is something about your work that’s standing in your way of success, and only you can change that. This editor or agent isn’t just pushing you off, they’re taking the time to truly consider your work and give you tips. Yes, tips. See what I mean:

“After careful consideration, our editors have determined your manuscript is not quite ready for publication at this time. While we’re sorry we don’t have better news, we would like to offer personalized feedback.

–Opening with dreams is overdone in this genre.
–There is too much backstory (information provided solely for the purpose of catching the reader up to events preceding these events).
–We do not think the prologue is necessary. You need to draw your reader in with your stellar first chapter, not tease them with a prologue.
–The first chapter does not forward the story nor capture our attention enough to want to read on. The first few pages are crucial for the reader to decide whether or not to keep reading. You must snag them there or not at all.
We wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors!”

I am actually printing this one out and framing it. Yes, I have more or less known all of these things, but being so close to the project, I could not see it from this perspective. That is why this response is so, so valuable. Now I know exactly what needs to be done before I continue querying. (Guess what I’m doing tonight?) If any of these apply to you, please use them. I want you to succeed, too!!

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If you’re a first-time author trying to get your work published like me, I hope you receive at least one rejection like this one. Why? Because it means that you have potential. Learn and grow as a writer – you owe it to yourself.

Even if it takes me four years to get published like Agatha Christie, I will continue to take every bit of valuable feedback to heart and improve. Because for real, I’m pumped.

-N

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