Rejection and Perseverance The Untold Story By Thomas Wright/ @zbsdaddy
So you want to be a published writer huh? First off, congrats. It’s a great path to pursue. But much like baking a cake or a batch of cookies, you’ll need a good recipe for success before you can dive in. Here’s one I used:
1 cup of great story. Try to make it polished and ready to publish as quickly as possible. Be sure it is 100% unique too. No pressure intended.
¾ cup lack of sleep. For those insomniacs out there, you can skip this ingredient.
1 cup of blood, sweat, and tears.
½ cup of worry and doubt.
10 cups of determination.
As I’m sure you can see, the last ingredient is the most crucial, and unfortunately, the toughest to obtain. Without it, failure is guaranteed. But hold up…isn’t the story supposed to be enough? I’m sure I heard that somewhere.
In truth, the answer is a yes and no. A good story is always sought after, but tons of people have them. If you want proof, attend any of the SCBWI conferences. I dare anyone to find a bad story among the attendees. Go ahead. Try. Regrettably, the time it takes for a story to be found and published is not predictable, thus the need for a big supply of our final ingredient. Why the need though? Well, my writing friends, it’s all due to our dear pal—Rejection. Have you heard his story? No. Well, please permit me.
If you have been in this profession for any length of time, you’re sure to have met up with Rejection. He’s an equal opportunity friend and can ruin a manuscript recipe in a second. The problem is, he never announces his arrival and always shows up at the most inopportune times. Plus, he comes in many forms and typically outstays his welcome. Yet, if you think about it, we allow him to visit. With each query sent, we invite him over. I personally have opened the door to him way too many times to admit.
So why haven’t I stopped writing? I should be curled up in a corner crying my eyes out screaming: “Curse you Rejection. I shall carry on no more.” Right.
Turns out, Rejection has a mortal enemy. His name is Perseverance, and wow is he amazing. Most know little about him. Understand something: He doesn’t always visit and is kind of shy. He likes to feel wanted and be invited over. But once you let him in, he’ll give you the secrets to some of Rejection’s favorite lines. Check out what he told me:
- I’m sorry, but this story just isn’t right for me.
Rejection has used this on me many times. But look closely; it’s not really all that bad. All the person is trying to say is that your particular submission packet/manuscript was not a good fit for her/him. Maybe he/she just signed another author with a similar story and can’t accept another one. Or maybe they just don’t represent your particular kind of story. Nowhere in the line is the person saying your story is terrible. So this line is one I can live with. Thanks Perseverance.
- I didn’t identify with your voice.
This one is a little tougher to swallow, but again, not that bad. Voice is just one part of your story. Yes, it’s an important part, but it’s correctable. It’s not like they said: “I hate everything about this story. You suck as a writer.” They just didn’t like your voice. So fix it. There are plenty of readily available tools to help with just such a thing. All you have to do is search and use them.
- I didn’t like your pages as much as I had hoped.
To be honest, I haven’t received this one much. Out of all Rejection’s lines, this one has promise to it. Read it for what it’s worth. Submissions to agents and editors, at least in the beginning stages are usually a snippet of your manuscript. They didn’t reject the whole thing, only what you gave them. Maybe you didn’t take enough time to polish the manuscript before sending. Maybe, you start out a little slow and really get rolling on page twenty-five. The agent or editor doesn’t know that, they only read the first five to ten pages. It’s not a knock against your story or ability as a writer. In fact, they liked your premise. They said so. You just didn’t deliver the goods. Keep trying and working hard to fix the issues. Don’t get discouraged. It will come.
- I don’t think I’m the best agent/editor for this project.
Agents and editors have preferences. They don’t all like the same thing. If it’s an agent rejecting, perhaps they don’t have the necessary contacts to sell your story. This could be especially true with new agents. If it’s an editor, perhaps the publishing house doesn’t publish your type of story. Perhaps their list has a similar project on it. Think about these elements the next time this line is used.
And lastly, we have the most popular line Rejection uses. Drum roll please…
- I’m sorry. I’m going to have to pass on your project.
What? They’re passing?
How could they pass on such an awesome manuscript?
Are they stupid?
My book is bound to win major awards. It’s so good.
I’m the next J.K. Rowling for crying out loud.
The above scenario is not an uncommon reaction to our fifth type. Okay, maybe the J.K. Rowling part is. Look at it though. Is it even a rejection? What are they telling us? In reality—nothing. The person hasn’t told you a thing good or bad about your project. So why do we assume the worst? Perhaps it’s human nature. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t provide an understanding of why we react as we do, but I do know this is not bad. It’s not anything. One can infer a ton of meaning to this line. Don’t. Move on. Life is too short. So this particular agent or editor passed. Perhaps the next one won’t. If you get cozy enough with Perseverance, this type of rejection won’t bother you.
I’m sure there are more lines Rejection has used, any one capable of turning us writers into a pile of useless garbage. Next time you get one, do what I do: call on Perseverance. Make him dinner. Drink a bottle of wine together. Watch a good movie. Just be sure to listen to what he has to say. If you do, I can personally guarantee that together you’ll bake that manuscript of yours into a polished product that will someday look great in bookstores everywhere.
And in case you’re curious, I believe Perseverance’s phone number is 867-5309. He lives with Jenny. Go figure.
Thomas Wright is a writer of middle grade and young adult novels. His first book Ansburry Tales: The Redeemer was published in 2013. Book two of this five-part series is scheduled for release in 2016. Other completed projects include a YA novel, Catching Tomorrow due out in 2017, and a middle grade series entitled, The Adventures of Spikehead and Fred, with book one slated for publication in 2017. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his wonderful family and far too many dogs.