By Sandy Brown
Weâ€™ve all received at least one. Many of us can line our offices with them. Rejections! Iâ€™m one of those who have gotten more of the dreaded things than I want to admit. Usually I feel badly for a few minutes and, then, suck it up and move forward. Recently, however, I received a rejection that threw me for a loop. I mean this â€œpity partyâ€ would not end!
Second Chances is so close to my heart. I poured my blood into this manuscript, spent more time than I should have perfecting it, and pitched it at National Conference. When I was told that I had pitched a good outline and would I please submit a written synopsis and the first three chapters, I fairly floated out of the room. This was it! So it was with supreme confidence that I put the requested material lovingly in an envelope and mailed it off to Harlequin Superromance. I just knew it was exactly what they wanted. Surely they would beg me to let them purchase it!
Three months later the thick manila envelope showed up in my mailbox. My heart sank. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew what the letter lurking inside would say.
I have talked to Lara Hyde, Editorial Assistant for Superromance, on the phone. She is a lovely young lady who obviously has a kind heart. I think the rejection letter she sent to me went beyond any obligation she may have felt to let me down easy. She described the writing in the beginning of Second Chances as â€œsolid.â€ She stated that the reader is â€œgiven a good sense of how my heroine is feeling in the situation and the reasons for her anger.â€ Then, she told me what was wrong with the plot and why it didnâ€™t work for Superromance.
To say I was devastated is putting it mildly. I called my critique partner, Tina Ralph, to cry on her shoulder. Being the positive person she is she immediately took steps to pull me out of my â€œfunk.â€ A real pity party would do the trick! Here she came to my front door with a CrÃ¨me Cheese Pastry. I made hot chocolate, and we settled in for an afternoon of commiseration. Soon, we had moved beyond the realm of rejection letters and were laughing over events taking place in our lives. Our pity party had turned into a party. We ended the day with a plan for how I should proceed with my book.
Reflecting back on that rejection, Iâ€™ve come to realize why it affected me so dramatically. The recent death of my mother was part of the problem, leaving me vulnerable to depression. Blind confidence that I had written the very best book I could left no room for rejection. After all, if they didnâ€™t want my best, where did that leave me? Where could I go from here? And finally, when you writeâ€”no matter how looselyâ€”on an event that has happened to a loved one, you have a vested interest in the success of the story. The rejection discounts the event!
Iâ€™m back at work now at my computer, pounding out another heartfelt romance. Putting my blood, sweat and tears into my new characters. I just know this will be the bestâ€¦
My advice is to write the best book you can, but donâ€™t let yourself believe itâ€™s the best you can ever do. We all have room for improvement each day. Keep writing, keep submitting, and donâ€™t lose your belief in yourself and your abilities. Above all, donâ€™t let a rejection letter take away your confidence.
And finally, if you do get broadsided by a rejection, I hope you have someone like Tina to help you pick yourself up. Thank you, Lara Hyde, for taking the time to write such a lengthy rejection letter, which helps me to see where my story went wrong. Thank you, Tina, for being there for me.
Thank you, Charlene, for the encouragement. I’m deeply involved with my new characters and loving my new story. And since I still believe in “Second Chances” I’m submitting it to other houses.
On your rejection! And on the woes of trying to sell a book you love.
But your friend’s advice is sound. Take some time to grieve over a book that may not see a bookstore’s shelf then jump right back in and continue writing. Carolyn Greene said it the other day so eloquently during her workshops at OCC when she read an excerpt from one of her first books. Wow, “I’m such a better writer now”, to paraphrase. And I smiled. We all improve with age and experience. Whether published or not, we do learn and get better as we go along. The trick is to never give up!
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