When I talk to other writers about how many rejection letters from agents and publishers I’ve collected over the years, this seems to cheer them on. If one person can deal with so much negativity, they reason, and still publish books? Maybe there’s a reason to keep submitting.
There is. I receive acceptances too. And yes, I am the queen of rejections. But only because I keep sending out my work.
Why put up with all the curt words, the mean declarations, the icy cold form letters that begin with Dear Author? Because facing the odds head on is the only way to get published.
My first book was a textbook and I only had to deal with two rejections before I found a willing press. So I had no idea how difficult it would be for me in the future. And it has becoming increasingly difficult over the years since. Now I write fiction, novels and novellas. Finding willing publishers is much harder. There’s more competition as everyone whips out their phone or tablet and types up a novel. Over 400,000 people signed up last year for National Novel Writing Month! Also, there is less money available from the established presses because they now compete with the newer models of digital publishing and self-publishing. Plus, there has been a significant reduction in book sales to accompany the proliferation of other forms of entertainment.
Rejections continue to mount.
Whenever I receive a tough NO, I refer to my favorite authors’ rejections in order to cheer myself on. Here are a few in case you need them:
“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant it’s selling.”—to Dr. Seuss
“We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough.” –to J.D. Salinger for The Catcher in the Rye
“I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”—to Vladimir Nabokov for Lolita
“Stick to teaching.”—to Louisa May Alcott
“This will set publishing back 25 years.”—to Normal Mailer for The Deer Park
“This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish.”—to J.G. Ballard for Crash
Mickey J. Corrigan is the author of many books that were initially rejected. Recent books include the edgy novellas in The Hard Stuff series from the Wild Rose Press (Whiskey Sour Noir, Vodka Warrior, and Tequila Dirty); the spoofy Geekus Interruptus and F*ck Normal from Australia’s Bottom Drawer Publications; and the thriller Sugar Babies from Champagne Books. Her newest short novel is Songs of the Maniacs from Salt Publications in the U.K. Even her agent couldn’t sell this one.