Friday, March 11, 2011

Explaining rejection to a ten-year-old

"Mom sent a letter to herself," my daughter told my husband.

She was obviously puzzled. She recognized my handwriting and was wondering why I would have sent myself a letter. She would have been doubly freaked if she had checked out the Pennsylvania postmark, but her sleuthing isn't quite up to that yet.

Yes, the dreaded SASE had squirreled it's way back to my doorstep. To add insult to injury, I had to explain it to my ten-year-old rather than just filing it and moving on.

My thirteen-year-old son jumped in the game. "What's a rejection?"

Where have you been for the last five years of my life? was all I could wonder. Except for one picture book "almost sale" through Magination Press, I had had nothing but rejections for five years, and hadn't kept it a secret from my family.

Again, I explained the concept of sending out a manuscript that you'd labored over for 20+ drafts in hopes of selling it to some pleased editor vs. the concept of sending out a manuscript and getting a form letter with the same manuscript back (meaning they didn't want it).

"Wow." My son looked at me with something akin to shock. "Writers go through that?"

Yes, writers go through that. Again and again and again and again.

Now, I'll admit, it has been a touch discouraging with this particular manuscript, but that's only because I had early success with it. The very first editor who looked at it wanted to buy a rewrite of it. It's only the editorial board that decided against it. No problem, I thought. If they wanted it, certainly another interested agent or editor couldn't be that hard to find.


The current stats on the manuscript in question are as follows: nay's–12 agents and 6 publishers, yea's–zero. The nay's are definitely winning.

But the truth is, that's nothing compared to what some authors have gone through during submissions. If you're selling a middle grade or YA manuscript, there are many more agents and publishers available for you to try for.

The ending? Writers don't give up. They mean business. They know that they're going to have to do what it takes and stay in for the long haul. For the few who have instant success, I applaud them because almost no one gets that. For the rest of us, we're just going to keep on trucking till we get there.

Have any stories of success or rejection to share? Leave a comment.


  1. I've written 2 books so far. Both rejected. (Didn't bother to count, it would only depress me.) I'm 5k words away from finishing my latest WiP. I keep telling my daughter the 3rd time is the charm. She wants to know when we're getting a pool.

    Unfortunately I can't give up. It's in my blood.

  2. LOL! My daughter and I laughed when we read your comment about the pool. I think you hit the nail on the head. The writers who don't quit can't quit. It's in them to do this whether they succeed or not. I guess the good news is that as long as you're trying, you're in the game.

    : )