A big part of being a writer is rejection. You have to have a thick skin to take rejection for your entire career. I haven’t experienced the lousy ratings part of rejection from book reviewers as I haven’t had anything published outside of two self-published books (no longer available). I didn’t have any negative ratings on them, which was nice, but also only had a handful on each.
The rejection I want to write about is having manuscripts rejected...again, and again, and again...
I have these stories that I’ve worked on for years- literally for two of them- three years for one, five years for the other. I have them at a point where readers and critique partners have said, “They’re ready.” Two words I’ve wanted to hear for years, and in a span of two months, I heard it twice for two different manuscripts.
The next step is sending it out to the world- agents and publishing companies that accept unsolicited submission. That’s what I’ve been doing since August.
I’ve sent then out to twenty-three agents and small presses over that time. Some are still within the time frame of auto rejection based on time passed. But, thirteen were a ‘no’ because of outright rejection, or because of hearing nothing but crickets, even after a friendly poke.
I’ve been doing okay with them. One made me laugh because I got rejected within hours, and another within four days, including Christmas.
But a recent one got me more that the others.
It wasn’t an agent, and it wasn’t a publisher. This one was for a contest that would have helped improve a third manuscript that is ‘close’ to being ready to send off to the world. There were sixteen mentors, and 500 people submitted to them. I thought my chances were good, I thought I would be one of the winners this time.
But I wasn’t.
It hit me harder than I thought. And I feel like I’m failing. Are my stories not good enough? Am I getting too old to start?
That’s where I’m at.
I’m happy as hell for those who won, and I can’t wait to hear about their journeys. But I’m jealous, too.
Am I a failure? No. Just rejected. Rejection is temporary. And rejection is a stepping stone to lift yourself higher, to boost you to work harder, and pushes you to get yourself out there even more. Find more critique partners, send to more agents and publishers, write more.
Failure is only permanent when you give up. That, I will not do.