Friday, July 22, 2011

Rejections are No BFD

Typically speaking, I don’t have a thick skin. Look at me the wrong way and I’ll instantly run through a gamut of offenses I might be guilty of to cause just such a glance. In all reality, the person might just have a piece of dust in their eye and the twitchy-narrowing-eye-thingy wasn’t a display of loathing, but simply an attempt to eradicate the microscopic dust bunny.

While writing my first book, I often worried about the inevitability of rejection. Not only are writers rejected 9 out of 10 times [note: not a real statistic; I’m just guessing], but also more often than not, they’re form rejections, so we don’t even know the reason behind it. This is the same as that “Wrong Look” I just mentioned. It tells us there’s a problem in the agent’s eyes (pun intended), but it doesn’t tell us what the problem is.

There are lots of posts and articles and probably carvings on bathroom stalls with advice on how to deal with rejection as a writer. After all, every writer–whether you’re Stephen King or the literary equivalent of William Hung–gets rejected.

And that, my friends, is the single most important lesson I want you to remember.

It happens to EVERYONE!

According to my calculations, since starting my search for an agent, I’ve been rejected 16 times. I’ve had 3 rejections with personal feedback as to why they said no (with notes to feel free to query with future projects), but the rest have been form rejections or the “no news means bad news” rule. Meaning, if you haven’t heard from them within a specific time period, it means they’re passing.

But even with all of those rejections, I feel strangely optimistic. I don’t even bat an eye when I get a rejection in my inbox. I expect them to be a rejection before I even click on it, and when I scan for that telltale word “unfortunately,” I give a mental shrug and file the email away.

That’s what happened today when I received a form letter from one of my agent top picks. I really would’ve loved to work with her, but for whatever reason, she didn’t feel the same. Maybe she has too many things that are similar. Maybe she doesn’t like my voice. Maybe she doesn’t think it’s marketable. Maybe one of her loved ones was run over by a Maxwell House Coffee truck and just seeing my last name on a regular basis would be too traumatic. (What?! Anything’s possible.)

So when I read her email I said to myself, “Hey, self, don’t sweat it. It’s no BFD.”

Because one of these days, I’m going to open my inbox and I’ll have agents requesting fulls. And eventually, one of those agents is going to be so enthusiastic about my book, they’re going to ask to represent it (and hopefully the remaining two books in the trilogy). I don’t think I’m anywhere near great yet, but I think someday I could be. I also think my manuscript is a pretty-darn-good book, and with the right agent’s help, could probably be a pretty-darn-great book.

All I have to do is never give up. Never quit querying. Never quit learning. Never quit writing. And whether that perseverance pays off tomorrow or five years from now, eventually, I’ll be able to utter those three magic words every writer dreams about…

I. Am. Published.

I encourage all of my writing friends to adopt this same outlook, and someday we can all try to one-up each other on who had the most rejections before that one agent/editor/publisher realized just how genius we really are.

Ciao, bellas!


  1. You've got a great outlook, Gina. Keep that chin up!
    My first query to a publisher came back with a contract. After I had signed it, I found out that the whole thing was a fraud. I got out of it, but soon struggled for 18 months before landing that publisher. Heartbreak can take many forms, can't it?
    My dream came true. I look forward to your future post that reveals that you've had your dreams come true as well. Good luck!


  2. I've always figured any response is a rejection too, but you're right: someday it won't be. And that will definitely be a BFD!

    The other day I read Sherrilyn Kenyon's luncheon speech from RWA Nationals. She talked about her rejections -- wow, is she amazing! She always came back to what fulfilled her, and eventually she sold. I highly recommend reading it for anyone who is intimidated or depressed by rejections. They happen, but they don't have to own our soul.

    And it's not a pretty-darn-good book, G, it's just damn great. I believe it's all about timing and getting the right book in front of the right agent/editor at just that right moment for it all to click. If we give up, that moment will never happen; we just have to keep moving forward.

    You go, girl!

  3. Jimmy: Thanks for sharing your own experience and proving that perseverance pays off. I'm sure that felt like a very long 18 months, but it was obviously worth it. I'm so glad you stopped in, and I can't wait for the day I announce I've reached my dream, just as you have. :)

    Lea Ann: Thanks for sharing the info about Ms. Kenyon. I was shocked to find out just how many of our world famous authors were rejected for so long before they found that one someone to believe in them. Stephen King's first FOUR books were rejected. It wasn't until his 5th made it big that the other four were contracted due to his popularity, and of course, those books were best sellers as well. Also, thanks for the sweet compliment about my book. *blushes* I love having you in my corner.

  4. Hey Gina, sorry to hear about the R. I've had so many over the years, literally the old fable about being able to paper the walls with them was never more true! But it does make it so much sweeter when you get there. And you will get there! Your book is terrific, Gina, and one day you'll receive a glorious email or letter that will make your dream come true. And when it does, you must email me immediately!!!

  5. Girl, I love your voice and your positive outlook. Can't wait until we can hang together!!!

  6. Serenity and Nicole, thank you so much for your unconditional support. I adore you both!! <3

  7. Love it! In this business, rejection is just part of the learning process. :)

  8. Gina,

    Ah rejection the sweet taste of life that hits us all in one way or another...
    I for one my dear friend cannot put your writing down. (A sneak peek of which I am ever so grateful for.)
    My pulse races, my mind demands to follow the story and my heart begs to have the ending be happy....what a truly good book does.
    There is a savy agent out there that will come and give you that ability to speak those infamous words...All I can say for now is.....

    Please please do not stop writing for you have a loyal fan here waiting with baited breath for the next part....
    You are a writer in heart, mind and soul and I am ever proud you are also my friend...


  9. that's a fabulous outlook. I admire that positive spirit. By the way, if I ever give you the evil eye, it's probably that my contacts are drying out and is in no way a reflection on you!

    Good luck with you ongoing query battles. I have faith that you will succeed!

  10. Jemi: Yes, you're absolutely correct. Rejection as a writer is almost a right of passage. :)

    Rhoni: I'm *so* happy you stopped by and took the time to comment! You've been so unbelievably supportive of me, I don't know that I could ever thank you enough. But from the very bottom of my heart...thank you.

    J.Leigh: Glad to know your contacts are prone to dryness and you're not actually giving me the stink eye. LOL You've been with me on this journey almost from the beginning, girl. When I finally do get to utter those three awesome words, you'll have been responsible for a part of that success. :)

  11. Hey Gina, better late than never. Sorry to hear about the R babe, but I love your attitude. That's exactly how I was when I got my form rejection from a publisher. You gotta just keep on plugging away and one day an agent will realise what the rest of us know. You even signed off with my favourite 'ciao bella' Keep on smiling beautiful. X M

  12. I treat rejections similarly, I kinda expect them to be rejections. I won't lie though, the personalized ones are nice. My approach is to just keep working on something new so that I hone my skills and get better and better. Pretty soon they won't be able to say no :)

  13. This post is exactly why your superpower is Sonic Perkiness. Way to roll with the punch! Great post, great attitude, great gal all-around. You'll get there soon, I'm sure of it.
    Love the new blog background, by the way.


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