Handling Rejection

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

 Neil Gaiman

A large number of writers will be participating in NaNoWriMo next month and therefore a number of novels started. Some will be abandoned, some will be completed but they will all be a product of the writers mind. A mind, in my experience, which is easily frustrated and it’s confidence dented by rejection. I know that when I have entered short story competitions and have my work rejected, it can be really deflating. When this happens, I handle it by thinking about the number of highly successful authors who have felt the same way and I remind myself of the following quotes:

  •  “It is so badly written.” The author tries another publisher and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now sold 45 million.
  • “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Shunned by all the major publishers, the author goes to France and lands a deal. The first 5000 copies quickly sell out. But the author Vladimir Nabokov now sees his novel, Lolita, published by all those that initially turned it down, with combined sales of 50 million.
  • 5 London publishers turn it down. The little book finally finds a home: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, winning The Man Booker Prize in 2002.
  • “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopia’s. They do not sell.” Stephen King’s Carrie sells 1 million in the first year alone.
  • Alex Haley writes for eight years and receives 200 consecutive rejections. His novel Roots becomes a publishing sensation, selling 1.5 million copies in its first seven months of release, and going on to sell 8 million. Such is the success that The Pulitzer Prize award the novel a Special Citation in 1977.

I think that these true quotes show that it is extremely rare for a writer to get published straight away. Success doesn’t happen easily and many wonderful novels might never have found their way onto our bookshelves and into our hearts if the writers hadn’t showed a high degree of persistence.

So, if you think you have a good, well constructed story, believable characters and plot, then keep going. It might be worth it in the end.

2 thoughts on “Handling Rejection

  1. Good post. I think a lot of successful publishing comes down to right story, right time, right editor. I’ve personally had stories rejected over a dozen times before they found a home. Perseverance is key.

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