Guest blog by Adrienne Giordano, author of Relentless Pursuit
It's a nasty little word isn't it? As writers, we face it. A lot. I personally have never gotten comfortable with it. Silly me, I thought once I’d found an agent and reached the ranks of published author, the rejections would somehow miraculously be easier to take. Not so much. The biggest difference is the rejections get filtered through my agent now instead of coming directly to me. That being said, rejections no longer send me wilting to the floor in tears.
A few years ago, a writer friend told me an agent "chose to resist" her work and it was an aha moment for me.
Chose to resist.
How fabulous is that?
So much better than rejected. Now, when I receive one of those dreaded rejections, I allow myself a pity party for the remainder of the day. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night, I allow myself to feel horrible until I go to sleep. For me, anything beyond that is counter-productive and suppresses my creativity.
And I hate that.
So, let's talk about an action plan for when someone chooses to resist your work.
Feel awful about it, but set a deadline. You cannot make it open-ended or your creativity will be zapped. Even if you have to write it down, force yourself to set a time limit. Repeat after me, "For the next (insert however many hours) I am going to allow myself to feel really crappy about this agent/editor choosing to resist my work."
Pull out that chose-to-resist letter and see if there are any nuggets you can pull from it. I once received a rejection from an agent that said (and yes, this is verbatim because I still have the letter.): "I really, really loved all of your characters and thought your pacing and dialogue were working overall, but it just didn't stand out enough in the already crowded romantic suspense subgenre. I think you are very talented and would be happy to look at other projects in the future."
At the time, that letter sent me to my knees. When reading it, all I saw was that I'd done a good job and it still wasn't good enough. Luckily, that very night I was having dinner with my critique partner and we had a joint pity party. I cried, I moaned, I felt sorry for myself. I had a martini.
The next day, after my allotted pity time, I analyzed the letter. Yes, it was a rejection, but the agent talked about my strengths, told me I was talented and that she would look at future work. As rejections go, this was a darned fine one. A class-A rejection. I kept the letter on my desk for a long time. As other rejections—maybe not so nice ones—came in, I went back to the class-A one to remind myself that a top agent thought I had talent.
Bottom line here, find the nugget that will sustain you.
Just as an aside, the manuscript referenced in that class-A rejection letter eventually sold and wound up on the Barnes & Noble Top 100 list. I’ve learned rejections don’t mean it’s not a good book. It’s just not the right book, at the right time, for the right person.
And that’s what we writers need.
Keep writing. Take any nuggets you receive and build on them. If someone says your plotting is fabulous, try and improve it. Whatever it is you are good at, keep doing it and try to make it better. Conversely, if there are areas you need to improve on, work on them. Study craft books, reach out to writer friends for advice, do whatever you need to because if an agent or editor says your dialogue needs work, they're helping you. They could be sending you a form letter, but they took the time to give you specifics and that means your writing connected with them on some level. Think about the vast number of queries agents and editors must receive. If you connect with them, you've done something right.
One thing I’ve learned about this step is to make changes judiciously. If I’d revised my manuscripts every time an agent or editor told me to, well, I would have had one hot mess. Not that the advice was bad, but I think we need to look at the suggestions and decide if we agree with the changes.
Surround yourself with people who will support you through the tough times. I have the good fortune to have wonderful critique partners who are all too willing to talk me off ledges. And they have. When someone called one of my characters an a**hole, my critique partners were the first ones to tell me how much they loved him.
That character is the hero in Man Law, my romantic suspense that was released last year. That book saw its share of rejections, but some of them were promising rejections and they kept me motivated to find a home for my challenging hero.
So, you see, just because an editor or agent chooses to resist it doesn't mean the book won't get published. If you stay the course, improve where you need to, make adjustments as necessary, you will find the editor who loves your story.
Readers, do you have any other tips for dealing with rejection?
Bio: Adrienne Giordano is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne's Private Protectors series please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano.