How to Rise From the Ashes After a Rejection
You’ve finally finished your novel, having self-edited, proofread, and polished it to perfection. You’ve spent as much time writing a synopsis as you did actually writing the novel. Your covering email took eons to draft, and now you’re ready to hit agents and publishers with your magnificent opus.
And the rejection emails come winging back. Not for us. Unsuitable for our lists. Better luck elsewhere. The market is extremely competitive. We’re not taking on new authors at present. We liked your work, but…
So, what do you do now? Cry your eyes out? Crawl under the duvet and stay there for days? Delete the manuscript? Swear you’ll never write another word? Take it as a huge personal insult?
No! You shout ‘Next!’ And send it out again. Never, ever give up.
But before you hit send again, here are a few points to ponder. Did you carry out careful research before submitting your manuscript? Or did you just pick agents and publishers out of a hat? Most agents and publishers have their submission rules on their websites, and many – especially agents – only deal with certain genres of writing. If you haven't done your research and you’ve submitted the ms to the wrong people, then it’ll be rejected no matter how great it is.
Sometimes it’s really just a case of finding the right fit.
Have you ever had a rejection with a personal note added? This has potential, but I do not feel a true sense of place. Your writing is sparky, but your characterisation requires some development. I like this, but the word count is far too short. You must act on any feedback given you by agents or publishers: they’ve seen some potential in your manuscript, but they simply don’t have the resources to work with you. Consider a development edit and a copy-edit of your manuscript from professional editors who will do the following: highlight strengths and weaknesses in your writing; identify what works and what doesn’t work; point out inconsistencies or lack of clarity; show you where improvements can be made; and highlight where you really should wield the red pen.
Editors work with you and your manuscript. We help your writing to achieve what you want it to achieve. We help you to make it sparkle.
Do you know the story of Marlon James, Booker Prize Winner 2015 for A Brief History of Seven Killings? He wrote off his own writing career after receiving 78 rejections for his first novel. His last rejection said ‘Not for us.’ He deleted his manuscript, destroyed his computer, and then made all his friends dispose of their copies.
One of them didn’t.
On winning the Booker Prize 2015, Marlon said, ‘If you’re a writer, you have to believe in yourself. Because if you’re a writer, you’re going to come across that moment where you’re the only one who does.’
There are other such stories. Stephen King received dozens of rejections for Carrie before it was published – and made into a film! Beatrix Potter had so much trouble publishing The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she had to self-publish it. J.K. Rowling, writing both under her own name and as Robert Galbraith, was rejected by numerous publishers initially – I could go on.
Yes, there are hundreds of authors out there, all searching for that elusive publishing deal. But think about it this way: there are millions of readers out there too, looking for something new and exciting to read.
And maybe you are writing that new and exciting novel…
So, what are you going to do, next time you receive a rejection?
Remember, never give up!
Betterwrite Associate Editor