Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rejection = Unpublishable

As you know by now, my article on Maintaining Enthusiasm has given me a lot to talk about. While this particular comment wasn’t directed as a question, it got me so riled I had to say something:

The concept of "luck" and timing appeals to me and gives me hope. I read a blog yesterday that said that if you were rejected, then you had to conclude that your work was unpublishable.

People who say things like this are the same people who tell you that a “market is dead” or that “a New York publisher would never buy that.” Strangely they are usually people with no publishing background and living in Bumbletwit (or someplace far from the publishing world). Or they are just incredibly bitter.

One or two rejections mean only that—that one or two people have rejected you. Every single author has been rejected, whether it’s by an editor, an agent, or even a reviewer. I think the key to figuring out whether or not your work is publishable is to keep at it. Keep writing new things, hone your craft, and work to make yourself and your work stronger. It is always possible that the work you are submitting now isn’t the one that will be published, but there are so many factors that determine what makes a work publishable that to say that it will never be published is wrong. It could be the market today, which might be different tomorrow, it could be your writing or characters, or it could just be that it’s not the book you should be writing.

I encourage you all to keep submitting your work to agents and editors, to continue to learn about the business, and to get to work on your next project. What might be deemed unpublishable today could be called brilliant tomorrow.

—Jessica

11 comments:

lainey bancroft said...

In a world of blogs where negativity, sarcasm, and outright insults abound (many by editors and agents who wish to remain anonymous) this was a lovely and inspiring post.

Thank You!

Bumbletwit? Hmm, difficult to find on a map, and yet, the population seems to be growing by leaps and bounds!

Jaye Wells said...

The only think is this post I take exception with is the following:

"One or two rejections mean only that—that one or two people have rejected you."

In fact, they have not rejected YOU, they have rejected your project. It's not personal. A there's a big difference.

Otherwise, good post.

BookEnds, LLC said...

Thank you Jayne for the clarification. You are very right. I should watch my words more closely.

--jessica

Alli said...

What a fabulous post! Thank you Jessica for reminding us what we should be telling ourselves everyday.

- ALLI

jbstanley said...

Everyone in this business faces rejection, so you have to be the strongest believer in your own work. I was rejected by over 50 agents and "accepted" by three. I chose Jessica because, as her post exhibits, she understands the ups and downs of being an author. I know I will have projects or prosposal rejected as I move forward, but if everything if life was a flat road with no bends or turns, what fun would that be? Hang on, those of you who have been rejected and keep sending you stuff out until everyone has said no!

jbstanley said...

Oh dear - sorry for all the typing errors in the last post. Some writer, huh?

amy m said...

"In fact, they have not rejected YOU, they have rejected your project. It's not personal."

Yes, this is true, but one thing - writers, like many artists, put a lot of themselves into their work. Their work is very personal, therefore, no matter what, they are still going to take rejection personally. It's just a question of whether they brush themselves off and keep going or give up.

"It is always possible that the work you are submitting now isn’t the one that will be published, but there are so many factors that determine what makes a work publishable that to say that it will never be published is wrong. It could be the market today, which might be different tomorrow, it could be your writing or characters, or it could just be that it’s not the book you should be writing."
Great advice, Jessica

Kate Douglas said...

Let's see...I got my first rejection around 1985, didn't sign a contract (and that with an epub) until 1998, and didn't sign with a NY pub until 2005...if I'd given up after the first gazillion rejections, I wouldn't have Jessica as an agent, wouldn't be writing the ninth book in a twelve book series for Kensington, and I wouldn't be having the time of my life. She gives great advice--keep writing, learn the business, learn your craft, keep writing, submit and submit again, and most of all, did I mention, keep writing. Tenacity is one of the more important tools for getting published. Sometimes, it's all in the timing. I figure it took New York twenty years to catch up to my sexy romances. Maybe what you write is the next big wave.

Anonymous said...

Kate, I LOVE hearing stories like yours because they give me hope, and are a wonderful lesson in perseverence. Thanks for posting.

Christine Keach said...

Can I just say how much I love reading this blog? It is so refreshing to hear professionals acting and sounding professional.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I don't like rejections. I'm certain no one does, unless they just collect rejection letters, which would be an odd but not impossible hobby.

I'm not puzzled by form rejections. They just mean, "no, thank you."

I am puzzled by those that say, "Your writing is well nuanced; your characters intriguing. No thank you."

I'll puzzle over that one until I die.

Rejections are discouraging. But the ones that say nice things and still say no are frustrating.

As for anonymous blogging editors and agents, isn't there only one of each, if you except the anonymous "agent" who charges fees and hates everyone? Their sarcasm is usually well directed and to the point. One can either learn from it or be hurt by it. I'm sorry if you were hurt by it. I'm probably guilty of contributing to the sarcasm. If it hurt you, I'm sorry. I'm trying to be nicer. Honest I am.

Just consider me a reforming Pixie. At least for this week.