Getting The Rejection Blues and How To Avoid Them
Getting rejected isn’t that bad.
A few rejections I’ve received:
“Thanks for letting me take a look, but I’m going to have to pass.” – The Barone Literary Agency
“If you are receiving this message, it means your story either wasn’t a good fit for our agency, we already have something similar, or the hook isn’t strong enough. Thank you for considering our agency.” – Book Cents Literary Agency
“Thank you so much for querying me and giving me the opportunity to consider your manuscript. I’m afraid, though, that after reading your letter I just didn’t feel strongly enough to ask for more. I wish you the best of luck and much success with your writing career.” – BookEnds Literary
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
The most consistent thing about my writing career is that the rejection keeps coming in. I’ve been getting reject letters, emails, and phone calls for the past eight years and I still keep pushing through. I have yet to meet or experience for myself a nasty rejection letter, but no matter how polite they put you down it still feels crappy. But what if I told you that you shouldn’t feel bad at all? That you were actually an Ace in the hole for some people. As the self-proclaimed Rejection Ambassador, I know a thing or two about getting hit head on with rejection and how to keep your spirits high in your literary journey.
Let us look at the word “No” for a second in terms of being rejected in the literary world. You might think it means “This isn’t good enough and I want nothing to do with it.” When in reality no in this context means, “No… not now.” The market is always changing so when it comes to agents, publishers, producers or whoever, they have to weigh the risks with the potential profit. If the risk is bigger than the profit, then they’re not going to put reputation, time, and most importantly their money into something that isn’t going to put them in the black. But then again, your Vampire versus leprechaun idea might be the next thing to blow.
This is a business at the end of the day. That’s why when these agents and gate keepers let you down, they let you down easy. You never know who you might need or work with in the future so they never burn those bridges. And you should do the same. So when someone tell you “no” you shouldn’t be discouraged. You should take it as no, not now, but it could be something one day. You’re the ace in the hole.
When I was writing screenplays and pitching them to anyone with an email, I stumbled across this industry person that changed my whole view on getting rejected. His words were simple yet to the point. He said, “No one gets fired for saying no.” When he said that my heart-felt a little lighter. We always feel sorry for ourselves when a potential break doesn’t come through, but we never think about it from the perspective of the person taking all the risks.
The moment they say “yes” is the moment that everything changes for the both of you. Their time, their names, and their credibility are all put on the line for someone they don’t even know, but they believe in. Would you do that for someone if the shoe was on the other foot? The decision isn’t as easy as you think. So again, it’s nothing personal and it’s more likely than not that you may work with the very person who rejected you in the first place. It’s all about timing.
There are levels to rejection that I think you should be aware of.
I’ve gone through almost all of them and trust me there is a distinction. First, you have the “no response rejection”. This is when you send out your query letter to everyone and patiently wait for a response, but nothing comes. This is an indirect way of the gatekeeper saying no without saying anything. Maybe your story didn’t have a big enough hook or your query letter was off; who knows why your efforts went into the slush pile. But one thing we do know is that we have to stay consistent.
The next level of rejection is the straight up no like you see above. This is when the gatekeeper actual takes the time out to respond, but there’s a clue in the response. The clue is “keep going. You’re on to something, but it’s just not for me.”
The next level of rejection is what I like to call The Right Path Rejection. This is when someone tells you, “No, I already have a project similar to this.” This is great news despite the rejection. It means that you’re writing something marketable and it can catch the eyes of the right people if the stars align.
The last level of rejection (which could make or break you) is the Back to the Drawing Board Rejection. I’m going to be honest here, this one stings a little because you burst through the slush pile, your query letter was good enough to get read, and you get a response requesting your manuscript. The whole time you’re on pins and needles because this person that has never even heard your voice can get your career started. A few weeks go by and you get an email… REJECTED! Me writing that just deflated the room a bit, because it means you were just one step closer to closing the deal, but the opportunity evaporated.
In this situation, I would ask why the person rejected my idea. Then take whatever notes I could for my rewrite. So how do you get over being so close, but so far at the same time? You do what writers do best: dust off the bumps and bruises, you open your manuscript, and you continue to make it better. You don’t quit.
Being rejected does suck, yes, but you shouldn’t take it heart.
If anything, the rejection should be worn like a badge of honor. A struggle that you’ve overcome to make it to where you want to be. We’ve all heard the war stories. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times before it was published. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. William Saroyan received a whopping 7,000 rejections before selling his first short story. Even The Dairy of a young girl Anne Frank took on 15 rejections. The point is, we shouldn’t give up on what we love just because someone else doesn’t see our vision. Keep writing! Stay the course on your literary journey. One day you might inspire a generation of writers.
Good luck and don’t forget to subscribe below the comments.
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.