Rejection: get used to it – Kristin Rockaway

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By Kristin Rockaway

I used to be supremely naive. See, when I was back in the query trenches, I thought finding a literary agent was the biggest hurdle I’d have to jump along my path to publication. After all, if I managed to find someone to represent me, I’d have it made, right? No more incessant refreshing of my inbox. No more waiting for people to tell me whether they loved (or hated) my book. No more questioning whether I was really cut out for this whole “writing” thing.♥

Then I signed with my agent. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. She liked me… she really, really liked me! Finally, I thought, my days of rejection are through!

Except they weren’t. Not by a long shot.

If I had the chance to go back in time and give that younger, naive version of myself one piece of advice, it would be this: Get used to it.

Rejection, that is. Because contrary to what I believed, rejection doesn’t end once you’re finished querying. The truth is, it follows you throughout your writing career. And the sooner you get comfortable with having people tell you, “Thanks, but no thanks,” the smoother your journey will be.

What kinds of rejections will you be running into along the way? Here are some of the big ones:

Being on Submission

I’ve often thought the query process was merely a warm-up for the big game known as “being on sub.” This is the stage where your agent sends your polished manuscript out to editors at various publishing houses – the people who can actually get your book on the shelves. Being on sub can take weeks or, more commonly, months, during which time you’ll be tempted to subsist on a steady diet of chocolate cake and analyze every email from your agent for signs of impending success (or doom).

While some authors are lucky enough to get pre-empts or auctions, the vast majority of us receive a whole slew of rejections from editors – and, sometimes, our books don’t sell at all. The only thing that makes this process slightly less dispiriting than querying is that, this time, you’ve got your agent enduring all those rejections along with you – and cheering you on while you work on your next project.

Promoting Your Book

ROCKAWAY__Wild Woman'sGuidetoTravelingtheWorldSo, let’s say you’ve found a home at a publishing house. Congratulations! Now you can just sit back and let the sales roll in, right? Wrong. No one’s going to buy your book if they don’t know about it, so you’ve got to do all you can to spread the word. This often involves soliciting help from people with far more Twitter followers than you – and most of them won’t be as jazzed about your novel as you are.

You’ll submit articles to magazines, only to get them rejected. You’ll email prominent bloggers and never get a response. You’ll invite a hundred people to your launch party and get five firm RSVPs (if you’re lucky).

It’s all part of the game. Keep going.

Getting Reviews

At last, your book is out in the world! Seeing your baby sitting on the shelf of the local library is your childhood fantasy brought to life, isn’t it? Then do yourself a favor: bask in that glory, and don’t read your reviews. Because there are going to be a lot of people out there who don’t like what you’ve written, for any number of reasons.

Every reader is entitled to their own opinion – you’ve probably read plenty of books you weren’t crazy about, right? – but you can’t please everybody, and subjecting yourself to your own negative reviews is masochistic and counterproductive. This is one form of rejection you can attempt to shield yourself from, so stay away from Goodreads and Amazon.

(Author’s Note: I’m having a very hard time following my own advice on this. Nevertheless, I persist.)

Doing It All Over Again

Writers write; it’s what we do. So it’s very likely that you’re not going to toss out your quill and ink after getting one book published. You’re going to keep writing more stories, and trying to put them out there in the world. Which means more rejection, in every form.

Your agent might not like your ideas. Your editor might tell you no. Your readers might one-star your books into oblivion.

But you’re going to keep writing, anyway. Because it’s part of who you are.

So don’t let rejection stop you. Just get used to it.

Kristin Rockaway is a native New Yorker with an insatiable case of wanderlust. After working in the IT industry for far too many years, she finally traded the city for the surf and chased her dreams out to Southern California, where she spends her days happily writing stories instead of software. Her debut novel, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, was released from Hachette Book Group on June 6, 2017. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, browsing the aisles of her neighborhood bookstores, and planning her next big vacation.

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