Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Let's Talk About Rejection

Dude, today we're going to talk about getting rejected. It happens in every aspect of our lives.

You get passed up for that promotion? 




You get a text from that "someone special" who's not as special as you thought?


The same goes with writing. If you want to get your work published, you're going to have to find a way to stomach the rejection. I believe that rejection starts early in the publishing process for a reason -- so you'll get used to it.

Because query letter stage?


Managed to land an agent? Yay! But then you'll be on submission to editors. And that brings...


Even when you get a book deal with a publishing house, big or small, you'll need to be steeled against the rejection. That's right, the rejection that comes from readers. See, not everyone is going to like your book.


So how do you prepare yourself for the rejection? How do you manage when you're in the throes of rejection? It's easy to say "Oh, I'll be fine. I know it's coming, and I'll be fine."

The truth is, you won't be fine. At some point, you're not going to be fine. You're going to want to quit, because it's just too hard to keep trying. And this goes for authors in all stages--in fact, I think sometimes published authors suffer from rejection just as those looking for agents.

I know, I know, cry me a river. I'm not placing a label like "more than" or "less than" here. I'm not saying agent rejection is harder than editor rejection is harder than reader rejection. It's all hard. Some is more constant than others, but it all invokes an urge to quit.

I think the only way to continue on in times like these is to have something beyond writing that can ground you.

This could be a spouse. Another family member. A pet. A vacation spot you frequent. Whatever. I think the best way to cope with the rejection is to have an escape from everything publishing. A reminder that your entire identity isn't dependent on having an agent, a publisher, an award, or a 5-star review.

If you have that something in your life, you'll be able to endure the rejection that is inevitable in this industry. Mine is my fantastic husband. I know that no matter if I never write another book or if I only get 1-star reviews for Surrender, that my worth to him is not diminished. Who I am is not dependent on those things, and that's how I endure the constant rejection.

How do you endure the rejection?

57 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

Lately I just try to ignore the fact that I submit anything. LOL. Probably not a good idea, but it's the only way I don't break down in tears all the time!

Andrea Mack said...

Such a great post, Elana. I can definitely relate. It is important to think about your whole life and what brings meaning to it, outside the realm of writing/publishing. But sometimes I just tell myself I started writing for my kids, and let me tell you, they are not easy to please, so if they like my novel, then I do feel like I accomplished something.

Laura Pauling said...

I can totally see how rejection would be even harder once your book is out. I try and escape for a day or so and then try and get over it! Anything so it doesn't affect my writing but it happens sometimes.

Miranda Hardy said...

Very well said. I have my writing partner and friends to keep pushing me forward. The confidence they provide allows me to see things more clearly.

Sarah said...

Fantastic post. Rejection (and I've certainly had my share) has never made me want to quit, but it did fill me with fear that I might not meet my goals. I totally agree that finding your value in other things is best. In addition, for me, I feel so much joy when I'm writing that it helps me cope with everything else, including rejection. I just bury myself in a story.

Natalie Aguirre said...

This is such a great post and so true. No matter when you're rejected (and yes, I already have been in contests or putting my pitch and query out there), it is important to remember that who you are is not defined by it or whether you're a published author or whether you're a successfully published author. It's who you are as a person. And there are lots of other just as worthwhile ways to be successful without the rejections.

Leigh Ann said...

Um. I'm actually *not* dealing so well right now. I've only been querying this project for a week and a half, and the rejection is already getting me down.

For me, I actually *do* need something writing - a new WiP usually works to bolster my confidence in my writing skills, and if I have one in the works, I know that the querying project does not represent my Last Chance at Being Published. It's just the getting started that's hard...

Great post. I think that when we're stuck in one stage, it always feels like THE WORST ONE. This is a great reminder.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Brilliant, E. We become so obsessed with writing (or maybe that's just me), that it's easy to lose sight that it only makes up a small part of who we are. Once I finally realized this, I embraced my photography again, which I had been neglecting for my writing. I'd forgotten how much I loved challenging myself through my photos.

I'm with Sarah on dealing with rejection. Working on my novel is what brings me joy. There's something about disappearing into your story world that makes everything feel okay. So, yeah, that's how I deal with rejection too.

Christina Lee said...

WORD.

I mean, how thick-skinned are we all? *pats the writing community on the back*

Yeah for me, I retreat into creating a piece of my jewelry or spending quiet time with hubby and son.

xo

Jenny Lundquist said...

Oh wow, I really needed this post. With SC being released soon I'm trying to steel myself for bad reviews, or, the ultimate rejection, that people choose not to even review it in the first place. For me my grounding comes from my kids. There's nothing like a five-year-old deciding that he absolutely WILL NOT be wearing his shoes to school to remind you that really, it's not all about you. Great post!

Alice said...

Wise words. I usually reward myself with a treat or something when I get a rejection because it means I'm trying and that I'm one step closer to that acceptance!

Natalie Zaman said...

A great reminder dahlink! Gonna print this one out and paste it in my journal... :)

Em-Musing said...

I'm like a crocodile--a thick skin. But I've been known to shed a tear or too.

April Plummer said...

Gosh, your site is so beautiful, it takes my breath away. But, I think I agree with you. My family, my husband in particular, is quick to remind me (when needed) that we've got a pretty great life. Nothing matters more than family. Not even my writing. Not to take away its importance at all, but it's true.

Gina said...

I dealt with the rejections pretty well the first time I queried a novel. But my blog post today is all about how I'm like a deer in headlights when it comes to querying my second - I'm terrified of the rejections because it feels so much more personal this time around!

Luckily critiquing and working and family will keep me busy until I get my act together.

Great post!

Kelly Hashway said...

My daughter is my escape from the writing world. She can always make me smile.

K.T. Hanna said...

Great post. Thank you. Perfectly timed after my crappy day yesterday. I think you're psychic ;)

And yeah, I have my husband and my corgis (and my dolls :D )

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Cry me a river...you crack me up! And I wholeheartedly agree about having something else ground us. Great insight!
~ Wendy

E. Arroyo said...

Great post. I haven't been grounded in a long time. It is nice to have something else.

Frank Cole said...

I needed this post. Writing a book is like slapping a giant target on your back for rejection. I hate it and almost daily wonder why I put myself through it. And I don't handle it well or professionally. I usually try to create a new swear word to shout at people and then giggle when they don't understand the meaning

Karen Adair said...

Excellent post. It's certainly a humbling experience, reminding us that we're not the center of the universe...whoa wait, I didn't mean to burst anyone's bubble. :) My best coping mechanism is what you said. Have other things to be proud of in your life. I, too, have a wonderful husband and children that love the fact I write, but love one on one time with me even more. They'll always accept me even if readers don't. :) Thanks for the reminder and boost!

Christine Fonseca said...

Love this post. It is humbling - all that rejection. And I am not certain what gets me through...not at all. But somehow I do...

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, I tend to submit and try to forget about it. It works more and more lately. At least my cats will still love me, despite rejections. ;)

Robin Reul said...

Two words - Happy Hour. No, just kidding :) Rejection is never easy, and I'm an expert in it, but I knew going in there would be far more no's than yes's. It's such a subjective thing, but I am always grateful for the agents/editors that took the time to give me specific feedback. I will really pore over that and as I work with my story anew, I see if their comments resonate as truth for me. If only one person says it, I consider it, but if at least two people say it, it's now an identifiable problem so I do my best to address it. Some of the biggest changes I've made in my book have come from stinging rejections. One agent helped me reconsider my story arc, another clued me in that I had some clean-up work to do to make the grammar and punctuation more professional as it was distracting, and several told me they loved the book but it was missing a little something. It took another writer to help me figure out what that "something" was and then everything clicked into place.

Most of all, I try and remember that the no's are a gift, because those people did not connect with your story and therefore would not be the best fit to stand behind you and cheerlead you. And the opinions of those that passed up your work are indeed subjective. Heck, I've read bestsellers and published works by established authors that make me want to pull my hair out because they made it to print and I thought they were beyond lackluster. But that's just MY opinion, and others are entitled to theirs.

And if all else fails, I find chocolate helps. :)

Jill Kemerer said...

This is SO true, Elana. I think it gets harder the further we're in because we're so much more invested in the outcome. We just want it so badly. And there aren't the easy fixes (working on our craft, starting a platform) when we're getting rejections at the later stages. It's tough.

I have an amazing family who keep my spirits high. I also am a billionaire in friends--seriously, I can't believe how much support I get from friends! And last, but not least, I have my old friends M&Ms. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I usually mope around for a few hours (or days - sometimes days) and then I get back to work. I guess I'm just stubborn.

Miriam Forster said...

Husband's are very helpful that way. :)

Also, it helps to have another book or story or project in the works.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the encouragement Elana. Running helps me deal with rejection. I usually finish too tired to feel sorry for myself anymore.

Angela Brown said...

This is such a wonderful post.

I know, for me, that thing that keeps me grounded, that loves me no matter if I never move forward on this pursuit of publishness...that's my daughter, my light, my love. I'll still be mom, that lady who's sometimes worthy of multiple slobbery kisses on my cheek and other times, well, not so much. But her love of me as who and what I am keeps me grounded. At the same time, she's an inspiring driving force for me to be an example of following dreams. So when I get those rejections, she'll notice it on my face, even if I try to hide behind a smile. She seems pretty tuned to my emotions. She'll give me a hug and tell me she loves me and I know I'll feel a little better one hug at a time.

Bethany Hudson said...

You're absolutely right. Handling rejection, I love getting coffee with my writers' group, snuggling up with my husband, or having a homemade pizza party with my kids ;-) Works every time.

Nicole Zoltack said...

My family. Chocolate. Movies. Relaxing. Spending time with friends. Sending out another query/submission.

Sarah Allen said...

I hadn't thought of it this way, as having an outside anchor to ground you. I think that's a very wise way to look at things, and to have. May not make things easier, but keeps you sane. That's what family's for, eh?

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

One of the best ways to withstand the years of constant rejection and disappointment and bad reviews and all the rest of it is simply this: Love the WRITING. Bask in that. Take joy in the act of creation, in the universe, in the spiritually uplifting moments of your story and your characters. In the gift God gave you. (Even though it can sometimes feel like we're being tortured! LOL.)

Patti said...

Expect the worst and hope for the best. That way when the rejection comes I'm already expecting it. Doesn't always work and sometimes I wallow, but then I go play soccer and it makes everything better.

Laura said...

Writers have good imaginations. I imagine that writing isn't my whole life. I imagine that I can write something even better. I even imagine that one of these days I will have to figure out how to handle a tiny drop of success. But my imagination isn't so good that I don't feel the sting, the pressure and the weight of rejections. You're right, it's a good thing I have an amazing husband and lots of kids.

Taryn Tyler said...

Does denile count as dealing? (or as my dad would say "living in Egypt" Sorry. Bad puns run in the family)

Honestly though, lately I've been avoiding rejection all together, just hanging out with my little manuscript becuase --well it can't reject me can it? I made it? (Don't answer that question please. It will hurt too much ;P)
But I think it's time for me to grow a tougher skin and get out there to get rejected.

Yeah. Definately time.

REINHARDT! said...

When it comes to rejection, I must admit that I'm a little bit of an evil git. I don't like it, and when it happens, I engage in a mad quest to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Sure, that means re-evaluating the quality of my own efforts, but it also means trying to scheme a way to either demolish or circumvent (read: connive, steal, cajole, etc.) the person or thing doing the rejecting. It's either this sort of manic obsession or sinking into a protracted depression. (Not tremendously healthy either way.)

But even this compulsion for wanton revenge burns away, and at the other end, I'm clear-headed enough to make another go at it.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Oh rejection sucks. It really does. I don't think I would be where I am without my blog though. The blogging community is 'it' for me- the driving force that keeps me going. They're support and the fact that so many of them can identify with what I'm going through helps so much.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have a support group of a few certain friends and family members who keep me buoyed when I'm going under. I agree with you that rejection stings whether you're published or not. Published authors are not given a magic wand to wall-out rejection. Great post! :-)

Emily R. King said...

Man, the R-word is everywhere this week! How did you know that I'm feeling like the suckiest writer on the planet right now?
Thank you for your uplifting words. I guess all I have to say is that rejection makes us stronger, so long as we don't let the doubt destroy our self esteem and stop us from writing.

Krispy said...

Wise words. It's definitely important to have a support system that is wholly not dependent on the writing aspect of your life. Also, hobbies help. Had some sad times? Time for a TV marathon or day trip! :)

Marsha Sigman said...

I like to pretend those people are just insanely jealous of me.

I also have a pretty good husband and a bunch of kids so they can be distracting so that helps.

Jessie Humphries said...

I like a little denial sprinkled in with my rejection personally! :) Vacation spots dont hurt either...

Martha Ramirez said...

You know what? This is great advice.
Thank you, Elana!

Yeah, you're right. I think as an author, rejection will always be there--whether it be from readers or just the media. I think almost all professions have to deal with some sort of rejection.

Which sucks. And it sucks that people can be so callous but it only makes us stronger. That's all.

Two of my fave quotes on this subject:

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

"Rejections are often gifts of direction."
-- Paul Young

Stacy Henrie said...

Great advice - having something else in your life. I think mine would be the same - my husband. He keeps me grounded and sane. :)

Amber Argyle, author said...

Totally agree. I also think we have to have an incredible amount of faith in our work. We KNOW it's going to make it some day. Because we KNOW it's really, really good.

I haven't spoken to you in forever! I hope things are well. Maybe I'll see you at LTUE . . .

Rachael Harrie said...

Having someone outside our writing to ground us is an awesome idea, Elana :) It's things like that which make the difference, isn't it!

Hugs,

Rach

Dianne K. Salerni said...

My husband and my children are my #1-3 fans, and they support me through every rejection and failure.

I also have some great friends, always ready with a gourmet dinner and some fancy martinis to feed my ego and drown my sorrows.

And writing is my comfort. If I've had something rejected, I turn to something new.

June G said...

You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. You are more than your book deal. Getting a book published and having many people like it, is just another goal to strive for, like any other. We shouldn't elevate it above other professional goals.

When we make it so big, it makes it harder to tolerate when it doesn't go our way.

If I get a book published, I hope I'm strong enough not to look at reviews--but it'll be hard to resist...lol...

Once again, Elana, You've written a compelling and heartfelt post.

Love ya for it!

Jo Schaffer said...

Speak it, sistah! Looking forward to all kinds of lovely rejection in my future!

Heather Sunseri said...

This such a fantastic post, Elana! I'm totally with you on having a husband that knows my worth is still the same no matter what happens in the publishing arena. It's so nice to have that uncondtional love from someone or something.

My golden retriever is pretty good for that as well!

Margo Kelly said...

I eat too much chocolate ... and pizza ... maybe I should try something besides eating?! haha

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I really like this advice. Rejection is inevitable but if you stay grounded and surround yourself with supportive people, I can see how it's easier to face.

Theresa Milstein said...

I love your uplifting posts. How do I put up with rejection? Scar tissue.

Jemi Fraser said...

By not querying and not taking risks... Sad, but sometimes true. I've only queried a few times. I was beyond lucky to get some agents to give me great advice. I'm using it on a new ms & hoping to hit those query trenches later in the year ... if I ever get that dang computer back!

Ashley Nixon said...

Yeah. I don't know how to deal with rejection, honestly. Each time, it's like a hit to my writer ego...which doesn't exist anyway. I decided to look at contests now, I'm not sure I could ever land an agent. It feels like my writing just isn't what anyone is looking for.

Leslie Rose said...

I chant the word - subjective about 100 times and then I go for the chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream.

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