at My Devotional Thoughts.
Let’s talk rejection. I am somewhat of an expert on it.
After I wrote my first novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, a writing teacher told me it was ready to see the world. It was not.
But I didn’t know this at the time. I’d written a book to the best of my capabilities. I did not know how to do any better. So I queried my first New York agent.
To my surprise, he answered right away and requested the full manuscript be sent his way.
Within a week, he had read it. And told me it sucked.
Well, he didn’t use that term exactly, but that’s what he meant. He told me my novel did not measure up to the “heavy hitters” in my genre (mystery).
I broke the rules and shot him an email back asking for advice on how to improve my novel. (Apparently this is a huge faux pas with agents). He responded curtly: “Read bestselling mystery books.”
I refrained from taking photos of my stack of mystery books on my nightstand and/or shooting back a one-word response of “Duh.”
Instead, I sought critiques from other writers and considered the idea of hiring a developmental editor to teach me to write and show me where I needed to improve.
I didn’t have money for an editor, but I did find a stellar group of people to critique my novel. With their insight, I began to learn and finally SEE where my novel was lacking. I spent about a year revising it over and over again. Throughout that year, I kept submitting to agents. Instead of “you suck” I started getting emails saying “I really appreciate the energy of your writing but expected there to be more suspense in the last scene” and other specific, helpful comments that allowed me to revise even more.
At the same time, I was reading every mystery book I could and studying every book on the writing craft I could get my hands on.
So for more, I handled rejection as a challenge: I needed to get better if I were ever going to see my book in the world. I looked at every rejection as one step closer to publication.
At the end of my journey to publication, I had been rejected dozens of times. By the time I had to choose among several agents who wanted to represent me, I already had queried more than 100 agents. Yes, you read that right—more than 100 had turned me down by the time it was my turn to pick and choose.
So the short answer to how I handled rejection is this: I never let it get me down. Sure, I’d sulk for a day (or two), but I soon realized that rejection is part of the writing business.
First, you get rejected when you try to find an agent. Then, you get rejected when your agent tries to find an editor to buy your book. And, then, get ready, there is more: you get rejected when critics don’t see the awesomeness of your book.
Rejection goes hand-in-hand with being a writer.
The only way I know how to deal with rejection is this: Keep writing.
When you are querying your first novel, be busy writing your second book.
When that first novel is out on submission with editors in New York, be busy writing.
When your first book is released into the world, stay busy writing another book.
The solution to everything is why I got in this business in the first place. To write.
Interview on The Pen and Muse: