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On rejection

I admit I rarely ever offer advice to other writers. Not because I have no wish to help or provide “inspiration” or whatever, but the simple fact is I don’t think I have much to offer. I’m still figuring out this crazy business years after I began. I really don’t know much more now than I did when I started. And I’m always leery of dishing out the wrong advice. What works for me isn’t going to work for someone else and what doesn’t work for me might well do the trick for another writer. Honestly, writing and publishing is about finding your own way in a spiraling path of craziness.

At any rate, I’ve received several emails lately about rejection and how to cope. Since I don’t want to ignore the writers who emailed me to ask for advice, I’ll try to sum up my feelings on rejection in this blog post.

Expect rejection. If you go into this business with your eyes wide open and expect rejection, then you won’t be surprised nor will you allow yourself to be derailed when it happens. And it will. Not only will it happen once, but it’ll happen again and again. A published author is simply an author who persisted.

You can’t take rejection personally. I know that might sound hard, but writing is a business. It’s not an artistic endeavor. You’re creating a story that you hope will sell to a publisher in exchange for a paycheck. If you go into publishing with the idea that you’re creating a masterpiece that simply must be appreciated by others you are destined for frustration. You’ll make yourself crazy because many, many people will be thoroughly unimpressed by your creation. Your hope is that SOME people are impressed enough that they’ll pay money for it and enable you to continue writing more stories.

Persistence is about putting aside what hasn’t worked and the willingness to begin again with something else. It’s about being able to put aside your personal and emotional attachment to a work and being able to hammer away at it and mold it into something else more workable. It’s NOT about holding doggedly to the opinion that your work is perfect as is and that anyone who says otherwise doesn’t A. understand you or B. appreciate art.

Rejection will follow you even after you’ve nailed down that first or second or third acceptance. No one is ever going to love every single project you dream up. Publishers are looking for what they think will sell. A mistake that authors make is thinking that after they sell that first time that rejection isn’t something they have to contend with anymore.

Your mettle as an author is proven by how you react to rejection. Do you quit and flounce off in a huff? Or do you knuckle down, go back to the drawing board and propose another project, write that next book, be willing to fix what is wrong with your current work?

Rejection isn’t personal. Say it with me.

It’s part and parcel of BUSINESS.

This is business. Say it with me.

So yeah, you’ll get rejected. No one is saying rejection doesn’t suck. The important question isn’t to ask what if you get rejected. The more important question to ask is what you do when it happens.

7 thoughts on “On rejection”

  1. Laurie K says:

    Rejection isn’t personal!
    This is a Business!

  2. mbot565 says:

    Wow, it’s fascinating reading this thru my eyes as a reader. Your reasoning/approach to trying not to give advice to other writers are pretty much the same as why I don’t give public book review to other readers. Personally, only other writers can give public review of another author’s books, because as a reader what I like is very personal & what works for me may not work for others. Just because I like a book doesn’t make it a good one or vice versa.

    It’s interesting how you approach your books as a business (perfect sense), while to me as a reader each book IS an art, especially fiction (precisely because I don’t have a clue how to create a world from scratch let alone write one). The same as songwriter, painter, sculpture, a fiction story author creates something out of nothing by stringing so many words together that end up as a book where others can emerse themselves in. I may not enjoy a certain story, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a piece of art because others may like it just fine.
    While you expect rejection as an author as part of writing a book, I as the reader try to approach each book with no expectation at all to give justice to each 1 I read. That’s why I don’t compare books from author to author or even books from the same author or series. When I don’t expect anything from a book, I can enjoy the story & the ride the author is trying to take me fully. That ride to an author maybe a nice check for the hardwork put in writing a book & having it published, while to a reader like me it’s money & time well spent reading a wonderful story.

    THANK YOU for sharing this with us. I know this is meant to help other writers, but it’s just as eye opening to me as a reader. I absolutely LOVE your art pieces. :)

  3. Angela H. says:

    Hi Maya,

    This is coming at a helpful time for me as I just got my first acceptence and now I am contending with all of the issues that come with a book (covers, blurbs, edits, etc)

    I am easily equal parts terrified and excited. I would love to say it was a bed of roses to get here, but alas I would be a liar. I am just truly thankful for the journey. I wish you happy writing and a wonderful year!


  4. Brandy W says:

    So writing is personal and everything after that is business including being rejected. I’m down with that. And at this point I can say that I’m dealing with rejection well. I moved on to the next project and have been thinking about what I can do to improve the rejected project.

  5. trish dechant says:

    Thanks for such a deeply honest blog regarding the dreaded “R” word. I am just starting out on this wonderful, yet scary, roller coaster ride and at this point in the game–all I want is to have a finished manuscript that has a strong possibility to be rejected by a publisher…LOL. Thanks again–YOU ROCK!

  6. Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

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