When you sign up for a career as a writer, or any creative profession for that matter, rejection is a part of the deal. It’s not the ideal part, obviously, but it’s a fact. At some point, someone isn’t going to like your stuff. You’re going to hear, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. Or just ‘no’. Or nothing at all.
Until a few years ago, rejection was one of my biggest fears. It was up there with snakes. Although I’d have no problem being rejected by a snake.
But I digress.
Ever since I was eight years old, I’ve known I wanted to be a writer. In particular, a published author. But I also knew that authors have their work rejected all the time. Knowing this kept me from achieving my dream. Why would I do anything that was going to end up with getting rejected?
I’m no J.K Rowlings and she got rejected 12 times. I’m not an idiot.
Thankfully there was a way around my fear: self-publishing. I could bypass rejection entirely and go straight to published authorship. Yay! I self-published my first three books.
It was quite the party until I realised my books weren’t selling. No one knew they existed because no one knew I existed. It didn’t help that you couldn’t find my books in any bookstores because not even the booksellers knew about my books. Turns out I forgot about the whole distribution thing.
With my fourth book, Write Way Home, I decided it was time to face my fear. I would submit the completed manuscript to traditional publishers in the hope of landing a contract (one that included distribution). Plus, I couldn’t afford to self-publish another book. There would be rejection. It was almost guaranteed. I steeled myself for battle.
Sure enough, my worst fear was realised. And sure enough, it sucked. Much harder than I thought it would. Getting rejected was worse than I imagined it to be. It was like getting bitten on the face by a snake a thousand times over. I cried. I slept. I cried and slept some more.
And then something curious happened. The more my book got rejected, the more determined I became to land a publisher. I questioned whether there was something I could do differently. Turns out, there was. I made some changes to the manuscript. I took a deep breath. I sent it back out.
After making the changes, I received a response from the first publisher I sent the manuscript too. They wanted to see the completed manuscript. Two months later I had my first publishing contract with my now publishers, Brio Books.
And, Brio not only agreed to publish Write Way Home, they also offered to republish Finding Paris. Suddenly I had not one, but two, traditionally published books.
This wouldn’t have happened had I not been prepared to get rejected. Rejection made me not only a stronger person, but it made Write Way Homea better book. And, it gave Finding Parisnew life.
Today I’m not nearly as afraid of rejection as I once was. Having faced my fear, I now have a much healthier relationship with rejection. After all, it’s still a fact of life as a writer.
Although I no longer see rejection as rejection. Rather, I see it in terms of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. These responses are two sides of the same coin. Each time you put your work into the world, you flip the coin. Sometimes it’s going to land on ‘yes’ and sometimes it’s going to land on ‘no’.
But it’s not personal. It’s just how the game works. The trick to getting a ‘yes’ is to keep on playing.
Currently I’m preparing to embark on the marketing campaign for my upcoming book, Meet Me in Milan, to be released in August. It’s a personal story about a trip to Italy that results in a chance meeting and an unfolding romance, with each date taking place in a different Italian city. It’s a great story. I love it. And I’m sure others will too.
It’s not going to be everyone’s cuppa tea. Not everyone is going to dig my stuff. And that’s okay. Sure, I welcome a ‘yes’ but I also respect a ‘no’. And I respect it because every ‘no’ contains something I might need to knowin order to turn that next response into a ‘yes’. It becomes a game.
And in the end, it’s all just a game. But it’s one I’m happy to play. It’s one I wantto play. Because it’s fun. Well, it is now that I know there’s nothing to be afraid of.
As for snakes…
Hedley’s upcoming book, Meet Me in Milan, is a personal story about a trip to Italy which results in a chance meeting with a handsome Italian and a summer romance involving a series of romantic dates, each taking place in a different Italian city. The book is being released August 2019. To get on the launch list click here.
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