May 6, 2012

Best Rejection Stories

My agent and I have been on submission for just over a month. She sent out to a fab list of editors while I braced myself for Rejection Highway. Because let's face it, life has said No to me way more often than Yes.

Last week, Tricia forwarded an Almost-Email. A Big House editor had some positive things to say about my submission. He loved the writing, the atmosphere, the whole premise of the story. He'd sat on the MS for a while mulling it over before finally deciding to pass. The parts he loved the most were the ones I'd tackled in revisions. I was still stressed over those bits, wondering if they went too far or gave a false start to the tone of the story. Learning that this editor had a favorable response was a huge relief. 

This was very exciting to both Tricia and me because it proved - at least as far as one reader was concerned - that our gut instincts about the weak areas in the MS were correct. In a weird way, this rejection was a huge boost to my writerly confidence.

I asked a few other writers if they'd had similar experiences. Here's what Jolene Perry had to say:

 I'd queried Victoria Marini with a YA paranormal called Insight. She read the beginning twice, and said that she couldn't put her finger on it, but it still didn't work. HOWEVER, she'd be happy to read anything else I had.
When I completed my first YA contemporary, I sent it to her and immediately got a request for a full (she doesn't rep much contemp, if any). She kept my manuscript for a full eight weeks and when she got back to me it was still a no, but her letter totally propelled me forward. She said she saw huge growth in my writing and loved the voice. She said she knew it would find a home somewhere, and that after reading it, she sat on the manuscript for three weeks, unsure of what to do.
For me, deep in the query trenches, I first saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I still keep her letter. I wrote her when I did sign to thank her, and she wrote back right away.
It was the first time that I truly understood that placing a manuscript with an agent or an editor is all about right person, right place, AND the right time (once your MS is truly ready).


Do you have a best rejection story - one that really helped you along the writing road? Share it in the comments!

12 comments:

Jess said...

Stories like this are so inspirational~ for all writers, but especially to those of us who haven't gotten to the agent stage yet. It's proof that, even as we meet some of our goals, this journey is about more than nabbing the dream agent or nabbing the dream editor. The little victories can still be won simply be knowing that we're evolving as writers, regardless of book deals and such. I've gotten to the point where I'm starting to get feedback on rejections, and it really means a lot to me. Great post!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Early on, I got a form rejection from a magazine with "Onward!" scrawled on it, and just that word alone made a difference to how I was going to react to another rejection. I could wallow in it, or I could forge on.

A few years later, I found it at the bottom of my scrap paper bin and realized the "Onward" was also photocopied, and not handwritten like I'd thought. Had a good laugh, but I must have *needed* it to be handwritten just for me at the time.

elizabeth seckman said...

My best rejection? An editor said she liked my work, but found that my 'voice', like what she read in my blog, arrived too late in the manny. She suggested I rewrite first chap and resubmit.
For the record...my blood was in that first chapter; my discovery, they don't necessarily want my blood...they want my words.
Relaxed a little, switched things up and signed a contract with another house the next month.

Lynn Proctor said...

i would be thrilled as i am for you!!

Cassie Mae said...

Oh I love this! I still look over some of my 'Almosts'. They totally let me know what I'm doing right with what I can work on to make better. It's invaluable feedback for sure.

Jenny Morris said...

I don't have one, yet. But this is encouraging. I know that sometimes a rejection might be exactly what you need. Good luck!!

Nicole said...

Great examples! It's funny how we can find encouragement in the strangest places, isn't it? I've had a couple rejections that have said things like "I really love your premise" and "Know that it touched us in some way" - that's always great to hear.

Carrie Butler said...

I write NA. Rejection is my middle name. ;) (My next project is YA, though. We'll see how that one goes!)

Good luck with your submissions!

Lisa Regan said...

Hey, that's great! Your book is going to find a great home very soon, I'm sure. Yes, in a strange way, rejection CAN propel you forward and actually motivate you. Well all the favorable things that publishers said about my books before they passed was pretty cool and made me feel like I was on the right track. My all-time favorite though is the agent who told me that Finding Claire Fletcher was a home run but passed anyway. I guess in December we'll find out if it really is a home run!

Daisy Carter said...

I have an almost identical rejection story, and it happened just yesterday. The ed loved the part of the story I'd already revised. Now, I'm working on bringing the other parts up to par.

You and I must have something awesome in common....

;)

Here's to you and I finding the right editor at the right time!

Emily R. King said...

I enjoy learning experiences, and that's what these two rejection stories are. There's nothing better than hearing that our writing is good, even if it's followed by a "but it would be better if..."

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I know exactly what you both mean! I got to meet Chris Richman at a conference a couple weeks ago, and I had to thank him because he really was that "light" for me when things were bleak in the query trenches. I won a MSFV contest with him and even though he eventually rejected, it was such a boost to my confidence to win and be considered. It was that same thing where he didn't rep much of my genre, so it really wasn't a perfect fit, but his kind words really boosted my spirits.