Rejection, or the “R” word, is the most dreaded word of a writer. It is so powerful that it can have a negative impact on the writer, so much so that some writers have great difficulty in handling it and hence quit writing. As most authors claim rejection is nothing but one person’s opinion. Evan Marshall writes;
“When an editor turns down a novel by one of my client, I add the word “in your opinion”. That’s all it is- one person’s opinion about a piece of art. And when it comes to art there are no absolutes.”
We hear or read about books and stories being rejected and then somehow going on to fame and fortune. The tales of rejection by successful writers are perhaps too many. Nearly all writers have received the R word at some point in their writing career.
Dr. Seuss’s “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. The twenty-eighth publisher published the book for a ‘fantastic reason’.
It took Theodore Dreiser, author of “Sister Carrie”, a required reading in many English courses, seven years to find a publisher for it.
“It cannot be repeated too often that bestsellerdom is not always solely a question of your ability as a writer, important though that is, but also depends to a frightening extent on luck. Many potential bestsellers are published every year, of which a few make it to the top, and the others sink without trace- and it is a matter of luck, a fairly large bit of luck.” Michael Legat
Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” on the other hand, was published, but in the beginning, did not sell. It is said that when the publisher returned all the unsold copies of the first edition to the author, Thoreau claimed that he had become the owner of a library containing 800 volumes, 600 of which were his own. And to think of how Thoreau must have spent his life unappreciated and unrecognized as a writer.
“As a writer, you’re rejected so often that you have to develop resilience.” Alex Hailey
“I’ve discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, “To hell with you.” ” Saul Bellow
What all successful writers tell us is to never give up, no matter how many rejections we receive or how bad the situation seems to be. The trick they say is in perseverance.
Kathryn Socket’s book, “The Help”, which was turned into a movie this year, was rejected by 60 literary agents before an agent agreed to represent the author. It has since been published in 35 countries and three languages. As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.(Wikipedia)
Well I haven’t had that many rejections yet. The last time I sent a query to two different publishing houses, I did not receive any answers from either of them, not yet at least. Is this rejection? I have been waiting for an answer for the past five months now. The uncertainty is killing me. Deep down I know that the answer is no but I still hope for something good to come off this. I also know that in the digital world I don’t have to go through all of this. But I don’t see myself as the stubborn, persistent type with thick skin and as such I am terrible in promoting and marketing my book. Can I do to my book what Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath did for their books? I don’t think I can. But then who will do it for me? Most of the time I am confused. Shall I go with the traditional or the digital? And if I choose the latter what’s next? Shall I leave it to chance and wait and hope that one day I’ll be lucky enough to sell?
“I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed. And then? I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed. And what next? I get laid, I take a short holiday, but very soon after I fall upon those same thorns with gratification in pain, or suffering in joy – who knows what the mixture is! What good, what lasting good is there in me? Is there nothing else between birth and death but what I can get out of this perversity – only a favorable balance of disorderly emotions? No freedom? Only impulses? And what about all the good I have in my heart – does it mean anything? Is it simply a joke? A false hope that makes a man feel the illusion of worth? And so he goes on with his struggles. But this good is no phony. I know it isn’t. I swear it.” Saul Bellow