Sunday, January 25, 2009
Rejections Can Be Good
I recently uncovered some of my older books. And I'm talking way older, like from 30 years ago when I first started writing. When I wrote them, I thought they were the greatest books anyone ever wrote, and couldn't understand why I kept getting rejection letters. What was wrong with those editors! And form rejection letters, no less! My words of wisdom at least deserved personal letters from the head editor, not a form letter from some associate. Sheesh!
Wow, those books were bad. I can read them now and know why an editor didn't accept them. Passive writing, two points-of-view in one paragraph, head-hopping, lack of plot...all those things an author has to learn as she or he grows as a writer.
I know some authors who have sold the first book they ever wrote. That's wonderful, but it's rare. I believe an author learns from rejections, learns by going back over her/his work after it's turned down by an editor or agent. That rejection hurts, but it also tells the author that even though Aunt Mary loved it, it still needs some work for an editor or agent to love it.
Did I give up? I'm too stubborn to give up. With each rejection, I cried a little, ate some chocolate (okay, a lot of chocolate), filed away the letter, and got back to work. I joined the Romance Writers of America, went to a local chapter, joined a critique group, attended writing conferences. My book didn't work when I submitted it. That didn't mean my next book wouldn't be exactly what an editor wanted.
I kept submitting, kept getting rejections. Then, a friend of mine told me about a new e-publisher and I submitted a book to them in 2001. They liked it! They really liked it! I had three books published with them before I moved on with Ellora's Cave, and then Avon Red.
Did I keep all those old rejection letters? You bet I did. They're a part of my growth as an author. An author never stops growing or learning. There are always new characters to create, new worlds to build, new happily-ever-afters to write.
And if I get another rejection, that's okay. I'll cry a little, eat some chocolate, file away the letter, and get back to work.