Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Deal With Rejection of Your Novel or Book Proposal

Every writer who ever tried to publish a novel will at some point experience the receipt of the dreaded rejection letter. What matters is not the rejection in itself. The true value, yes there is value in a rejection letter, is what you do with it.

The scenario upon receipt of the rejection letter goes something like this:

You log into your mail server, open the e-mails and there it is ... a letter from the publisher! Your heart beats like a freight train on full throttle and your hands shake. A light film of sweat laces your forehead. Must you open it or are you going to wait? No choice, you open the e-mail and read with astonishment the first couple of lines...

"We regret to inform you blah blah blah"

You seldom get past those first few words on the first read. Astonished you sit back and try to calm your pulse racing and avert the imminent heart attack. All those months, maybe even years, of hard work and it is not good enough. You might experience anger, which is understandable, or burst into tears. Also good. Then the most important result of the rejection letter from the publisher sets in - SELF DOUBT.

For a couple of days, sometimes even weeks, you vow you will NEVER EVER  attempt to write anything again. But then, your mind starts throwing ideas at you and you realize there is no way in hell you will be able to refrain from sitting in front of your computer and not write again. Those pestly ideas just keep swirling and mulling around in your head without giving you a moment of peace.

Now - go back and read that e-mail again and try to find out what caused the rejection. Read it a couple of times, if it is not one of those generic rejection letters and try to understand the publisher's point of view.

The most common reasons for rejection of your novel are:

  1. Your novel does not fit in with the genre the specific publisher is interested in.
  2. You placed your novel in the wrong genre - romance where it should be suspense or true crime.
  3. Your manuscript did not adhere to the submission guidelines of the publisher.
  4. You failed to edit your manuscript properly and the first three chapters showed a lack of polish.
There might be a myriad of other reasons why the publisher rejected the novel, if you indeed sent in a partial and not just a query letter. Try to learn from it, get angry, but most of all - GET EVEN.

The best way to get even is to learn from your mistakes and write an even better novel. If you feel that your manuscript may still be publishable, re-think the plot and characters and find ways to improve the novel to re-submit to another publisher if you need to. If you are a true writer there is no way you will be able to stop writing. So, just do it better and with more vigor.

How did your experience of the rejection letter compare to the scenario above? And are you still writing?