Wednesday, November 2, 2011


So, you’ve heard about writers sending out queries to dozens of agents and receiving dozens of rejections. Rejection is part of the getting published gig. And not just dozens of rejections—I don’t even want to say how many I received over the course of nearly four years. I sent my first STORY FOR A SHIPWRIGHT query in December of ’08 and received my last rejection in August this year. I won’t say how many—lets just round down to 200. And it wasn’t that my query wasn’t strong (okay, probably my first 25-50 were terrible!) or the story was awful. I received an encouraging amount of requests for partials and my full manuscript with a lot of very positive feedback—just no takers. The problem? The market; that and my story didn’t fall into a tidy genre. I was told “this kind of well-made novel is almost impossible to sell in this horrible market”...“especially in these recessionary times.  It's that old thing about deserving to be published, but not yet being published.”

Yeah, it’s been really discouraging. I can’t say that it didn’t undermine my feelings about my novel and my writing abilities—I wondered if all the disappointment and battered self-esteem was worth it. Yet, it seemed that with all the time I had invested, I should follow through on my plan—if I’ve lacked in skill and knowledge of how the industry works and what genres are ‘salable’, I do make up for it in persistence. A large part of me feels the need to follow through once I’ve made a commitment. I’ve always maintained that I will publish one way or the other, and I’ll be proud of that. If nothing else, I know that we writers are a rare breed that combines imagination with commitment and courage. That’s a pretty cool distinction!

My motto has become: Just keep moving forward—and whatever you do, don’t look down!

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Group, sponsored by Alex J. Cavanaugh.


  1. very good,,,even though I know it is rainning in all lanes, being "wet" gets tiresome, doesn't it?

  2. Indeed it does, Glenn--but I have confidence the skies do clear,,,:)

  3. *hugs* Your persistence is an inspiration to me!

    (and I still owe you email, so sorry- been all over the place the past few days and trying so hard to get caught up...) thinking of you!


  4. Bru, thanks! Just remember, pacing is the better part of persistence--no pressure here to take on more than what you can comfortably do! :)

  5. I think it's important to remember that things happen when they happen and there's nothing you can do about it except be content with what you've done. I've found that although something can suck while I'm in the thick of it, when I am on the other side, I see that I had to go through that to get to the good stuff. It wouldn't be the same otherwise, and sometimes timing is everything.

  6. I chose the self-publishing route (through Pubit) just to complete the cycle more quickly. So far the level of success has required proper interpretation of the term 'success' to allow me to feel successful.

    Sales are lackluster, which is not a surprise. I am not only my own publisher, but my own marketing department. The budget is small, as is the pool of experience.

    Still, I actually have fans! People anxiously awaiting my next volume in the series. That's kind of fun, though not particularly lucrative.

    Whether going the query route or following the path of self-publishing, I suspect the journey is usually rather long. Still, I have written, I have published, and I have been read. That feels pretty good!

  7. Persistence pays off in one form or another.
    All good things come to those who work for them.
    When God closes a door, she opens a window.

    I can't think of anymore.

  8. Michelle, I think there's a whole lot to be said for the learning curve, and really no way to circumvent it! In the end, it will be worth all the effort if my expectations haven't been unrealistic!

    Michael, I'm in such admiration of anyone who has braved the self-publishing route. Again, I think it has a lot to do with expectations and how one defines success. To me, having a small audience who appreciates what I've written--especially those who would have otherwise never read my book (family, friends)--would be very gratifying indeed! All the best to you, Michael! :)

    Anne, Well, I guess that about sums it up! We shall continue to encourage each other to persist and persevere! :)

  9. Great encouraging words! I have stacks of rejections too. I stopped printing them off to save ink and paper.

  10. I like persistence. The word even sounds nice.

  11. I think all writers will sympathise with this post. I've now decided that what's important is to enjoy the journey - the actual writing - and if it sells, that's a bonus. I'm bedevilled by not being a genre writer, too. There should be a special genre of genre-free fiction!

  12. Susan, Printing my rejections never occurred to me! (though I haven't yet deleted my rejections file!) Your self-esteem must be made of steel! :)

    Bryan, Some words do sound positive, don't they! I wonder if it's only us writers who really notice that!

    Frances, I have to admit there have been times when the rejections sucked the enjoyment out of my writing. I guess that's something we also have to work through as part of our journey.

  13. I'm just catching up on this blog, congratulations! P.G. Wodehouse wrote, I think, two stories about writers who set out to complete collections of rejection slips, and had much success at first, only to be foiled by magazines accepting their work.

  14. John, The whole publishing/writing industry is so crazy (always has been, but even more so now!)--it's hard to account for tastes and trends. I guess we writers just keep on writing and pray for an audience!

    Thanks so much for stopping in! :)