Rejection Happens

So you’ve polished your manuscript, synopsis, and query letter. You’ve sent queries to both editors and agents, as well as traveled the continent for a chance to pitch to your dream team. Then you’ve waited.

Patiently? Hah! No. You’ve constantly checked your e-mail and mail box. Time drags on…weeks and months until just when you’ve forgotten your submission…

Rejection happens. And like any reaction to bad news, you react negatively. You are the protagonist of your own writing journey, and as the protagonist, you must give yourself permission to react. Give yourself time to reflect. Give yourself a sequel that ends with you making the decision to press forward on your writing journey.

 The Act of Reacting:  Allow yourself time to stagger and wail, but not for too long—a day or week. Set a time limit. Set a date and time when you will open up the e-mail rejection or letter again and reread the information.

Let the Dilemma Unfold:  This is the phase when you consider your options. Yes, you can put away your computer and tuck your MS under your bed and never look at either again. Or you can dust off your writing craft books, regroup with critique partners, or hire an editor to help figure out how to fix the story. Or you can begin anew.

The Solution?

A Good Sequel Ends in Decision: Make a Decision to Move Forward.

What’s Next?

SEND A THANK YOU E-MAIL OR NOTE. You never know when your writing path will cross with that agent or editor again.

If you receive any type of feedback, other than Pass, take note. That an editor or agent took the time to point out weaknesses in your manuscript is not a reflection on you, but on the strength of selling the manuscript. Today’s commercial fiction competition is fierce. Remember, you want your published work, attached to your name FOREVER, to shine.

 Common Rejection Comments:

  • Plot
  • Storyline
  • World Building
  • Pacing
  • Contrived
  • Characterization
  • Weak Protagonist/Antagonist
  • Etc

All of these issues can be corrected by further education and better understanding of the writing craft and business.

Your job as the storyteller is to write your story in a manner that follows current standards. Yes, there are stories that do not fit the mold, but for the most part, especially for new writers, we must become proficient with the mold before we are able to tweak story structure purposefully.

Other Ways to Improve:

  • Know your genre
  • Watch movies in your genre
  • Read books in your genre
  • Know what is selling in your genre (Romantic Times)
  • Study structure

On a Positive Note:

Scribble POSITIVE FEEDBACK on a Post It, for example: “You’re a talented writer” or “Please send me something else” or “I love your writing style” and stick these payoffs on your computer monitor. These payoffs turn frowns into smiles!

Books I Use:

Plot and storyline issues: Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder

Pacing issues:  Fluent Writing: How to Teach the Art of Pacing, by Denise Leograndis

Break Into Fiction (work book), Fire in the Fiction, by Donald Maass.

If you have a book that has helped you go from good to Wow! Please leave a comment to share with fellow writers.

Remember, rejections are a way for us writers to take our story telling from good to Wow! It is another step toward publication.

So after you’ve gathered your tears, reread the rejection and considered your options, make a decision to hit the books again. Believe that your hard work will pay off. That one day, you’ll become a published author.

Happy Writing, Cyndi Faria

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12 thoughts on “Rejection Happens

  1. Cyndi, I love Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat. I was priviledged to hear him speak in person at, I believe, RWA National San Francisco. I keep his advice in the front of my brain as I start every new story.

  2. You’ve given some great advice. I just pushed the ‘send’ button last night so am in that waiting game. One thing that I have learned that you didn’t mention – it may not be your writing they turn down. It may be that they don’t need anymore in that genre, or maybe there isn’t interest in the genre and they don’t know where to place it. After being devastated last year, I gave up writing ten days and then couldn’t stand the quiet. I woke my muse up and told them to get to work. I am back up and running and with a changed attitude, doing much better. If these folks don’t like my story, I know there are others to send it to. Never give up is my new mantra. 🙂

  3. Another great blog post Cyndi. I finally sent in my submissions last night after requests from the Emerald City Conference. I’ve already heard back from one agent who said she’s excited about my premise and looks forward to reading it, but that she’s backlogged by about 60 days. I was surprised to get such a quick response and it was nice just to get the positive feedack on the query even though she hasn’t read any chapters yet. And if I ultimately receive a rejection, I will use it to apply for PRO status so I can qualify by next year’s RWA conference and take satisfaction in the fact that I at least peaked an agent’s interest with my query letter. One step at a time.

  4. Very nice post and good advice Cyndi! Rejection is a hard pill to swallow but like all medicinal pills, it is usually serving some good once it breaks down in your system.

    Congratulations Paisley and Melinda on your submissions! Happy thoughts and crossed fingers for you.

    Now I must get my butt in gear and fine tune my GH entry (not to mention writing that dreaded synopsis.)

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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