Dealing With Author Rejection

You can do it.

You are an author. You just need to get your book finished and get it out there. However, like all of us, doubt has seeped into the cracks of your foundation.

Maybe others have said you couldn’t do it. Perhaps they told you there was no use in trying. Maybe they even gave you a few reasons you shouldn’t write your book.

All the great ideas have already been done
You’re not a writer
Nobody reads anymore
You’re a boring person who can’t possibly have anything of interest to write

There are a million and one reasons not to write – if you dwell on the negative.

However, there are also a million and one reasons you should.

You have it in you. Despite predictions otherwise, books aren’t going anywhere. They might change format a bit as eBooks and podcasts increase in popularity. However, a story is a story, no matter the format. You are a writer, dammit.

We are all unique, each of us with a story burning inside us. Whether you have one story or 100, there is something in you yearning to be freed.

It burns. You beg it to quiet. Sometimes it listens, sometimes it doesn’t. However, even in its hush you know it is there.

Do want to live the rest your life wondering what could have been?

I hope the answer is no. Life is too short for clipped wings and broken dreams.

William Faulkner was told, “Good God, I can’t publish this!”

Lord of the flies, the landmark allegory on the failure of man-made society, was referred to as, “An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA,” they said to George Orwell.

The eight-year-old daughter of a small London publisher’s CEO is the only reason we got to read “Harry Potter and the Philosopher‘s Stone,” a book that had been rejected by 12 other publishers already. How much do you want to bet those 12 people cry themselves to sleep every night for missing out on the most successful series in forever?

Original consideration for “The Diary of Anne Frank” was, implausibly enough, that “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift interest above the curiosity level.”

“I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

Yes, Rudyard Kipling.

The turn-of-the-century literary blockbuster, “War of the Worlds,” by H.G. Wells, was “An endless nightmare,” and Wells’ other book, The Time Machine, was considered “not interesting enough for the general reader.”

Moving into modern days, Judy Blume, one of the most influential children’s authors of all time, received nothing but rejections for two years straight. And one of my favorite books growing up, Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” was turned down 26 times before someone said yes. “A Wrinkle in Time” went on to win the Newberry medal in 1963.

Two of the most successful authors of the twentieth century, Stephen King and John Grisham both had difficulty getting to print. Before “Carrie,” King was told, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Of course, millions of readers proved that prognostication wrong. Grisham went through 16 agents and a dozen publishers before finding success with “A Time to Kill.”

And my favorite rejection of all time?

Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, who I consider to be the finest children’s author ever, had his first book, “And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street” rejected 27 times before finally being deemed worthy for ink. An excerpt from just one of his many rejection letters reads, “This is too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

Things whisper inside us for a reason.

Sometimes it’s okay to ignore the murmur as passing fancy or a maybe someday. However, other times the whisper is right, even if everyone else is wrong. Sometimes the whisper is insistent for a reason.

Write the book inside you.

We can’t wait to read it.

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9 responses to Dealing With Author Rejection

  1. Lori Hoeck

    The Dr. Seuss story has always given me motivation. I have on our bedroom wall a huge, 2-D, retail store display that was used to promote his books several years ago. It’s from a scene in “One Fish, Two Fish.” It reminds me to honor my writing and avoid investing too much in the opinions of others.
    .-= Lori Hoeck´s last blog ..Mindset in self defense is crucial to victory =-.

  2. Charlotte Rains Dixon

    I heard Madeleine L’Engle speak a few years before she died, and she told a story about “A Wrinkle in Time” being rejected. It was Christmas, and she got one of the rejections as she was wrapping presents to send off to family. She was so distraught that she totally screwed up the gift tags, and people got completely inappropriate presents that were intended for others. For some reason, I always remember this story when I get a rejection, and it gives me comfort.
    .-= Charlotte Rains Dixon´s last blog ..Transparency, or a Book Review =-.

  3. vered

    Writers experience rejection all the time, on a much smaller scale. It’s part of being creative, I think. Wonderful, encouraging post.

  4. Nathan Hangen

    In this case, it sounds like being rejected is the first step towards becoming a published author.

    I’ve already been rejected twice (by the same agent), but that hasn’t stopped me. I’ve taken his advice and kept at it. No doubt I’ll be at a bookstore near you soon enough 🙂
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero? =-.

  5. Lori Franklin

    I’ve been enjoying this site tremendously.

    You’ve summarized such an important message! Like Nathan mentioned, I think the rejection slips are simply part of the process and should be taken as such. That’s a very good point.

    You’re right, “sometimes the whisper is incessant for a reason.” You’re absolutely on point with that comment. If the whispering won’t stop, but best thing to do is to stop it with action, even when that includes rejection after rejection.

    Thanks! This is such a great message and post!
    .-= Lori Franklin´s last blog ..I Love Your Mind =-.

  6. Looking for Writers | Ghostwriter Dad

    […] started Monday with the Beck Guide to Writing, then followed on Wednesday with a post about dealing with author rejection, a particularly poignant piece that I happen to personally like quite a […]

  7. Bethany Ramos

    Thank you for this amazing post! I’m in the process of presenting my chick lit novel to agents with many many rejections so far. I have had the pleasure of getting a children’s book under contract to be published, but it is still difficult to continue to pursue your work each and every time. Thank you for the encouragement 🙂

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