January 29th, 2009


A rejection rant: Or, why you should never, ever quit

So, anyone who has been following this blog for more than, say, a day, probably knows I encountered my share of rejection en route to selling PRADA & PREJUDICE in a two book deal. Twenty-six rejections, to be exact, (from editors) on PRADA alone. Random House? REJECTION. Simon & Schuster? REJECTION. Harper Collins? REJECTION. . . . the list goes on and on.

Sometimes it makes me giggle when I think about all those editors one day strolling along in a book store, seeing my book, and going-- wait, didn't I reject that once? And don't get me wrong-- Prada went through SO MANY revisions, that they were right to reject the weaker versions. It wasn't fit for publication yet.  It took that final rewrite-- the one where I opened a blank document and started over-- to make it worthy of publication.

If there is one constant in this industry, it's this: You WILL be rejected.

So often, I see people get just one, two, three rejections and start to despair that it means they won't be published. I don't care if its a hundred rejections or one, it doesn't mean you're not good enough.

Repeat after me: Just because I was rejected, doesn't mean my work is unpublishable.


I've never met a published author who had never had a rejection. (IF you exist and you are reading this, let me know. I'll send you a gold star. Or maybe a roll of toilet paper. I haven't decided yet.) 

This month, two of my very good friends received offers from agents. Both agents are very well known, at major agencies. And both of these writers had
A) Significantly revised their manuscripts at one time or another
B) Received rejections. Plenty of rejections.
C) Kept right on querying.

In my eyes, getting your book published isn't something you try once, or on a whim, or just for fun. It's a process. Consider it training for a marathon, where you're only allowed to participate once you've reached a specific fitness goal. Some take longer than others. Some look like they're practically skipping along to the finish while others crawl their way across, banged up and bleeding. But here's the key: if you have to crawl, then crawl, damnit, but don't give up.

Let yourself wallow now and then, but pick yourself up. Revise. Write new projects. Query those. Research. network. write. query.

There will come a day they can't say no anymore. For some of you, that day might be today. For others,  you might have to get through many, many more days when all you hear is no.

But I promise you-- if you keep it up, there will come a day when they say Yes. The question is, will you stick with it long enough?