The Rejection Grind

If you’re an established writer, then you probably don’t need to read this post. If you’re an aspiring writer, someone who is just getting started, then I have some advice for you that you really do need to take to heart. This is, perhaps, the most important thing you need to learn in order to climb the ladder of making it as an author.

The advice is, if you have issues with rejection, GET OVER IT.

For the 99%–and by that I mean those people who don’t get struck by lightning and end up being published right out of the gate–you will have to endure rejection after rejection after rejection before you get accepted and, ultimately, PAID as a writer. It’s a daily grind, one that requires dogged, relentless perseverance. It requires that you wear your literary heart on your sleeve for hundreds of agents and publishers and editors to stomp on over and over again.

Here’s a comforting list of famous rejections: Stephen King’s “Carrie” rejected dozens of times. William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” rejected by 20 publishers. John le Carré’s “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” was told that he didn’t have a future. “The Diary of Anne Frank” was given this response from a publisher: “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” was described as “… not really funny on any intellectual level.” J.K. Rowling’s first Potter novel was rejected a dozen times and then only published at the behest of the CEO’s 8-year-old daughter. Urusula K. Le Guin, George Orwell, Tony Hillerman and William Faulkner all suffered this staple of the writer’s diet.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT saying that writers should revile editors, publishers and agents because of rejection. Those people are making business decisions in a complex and very competitive market. They’re people just like the rest of us, and they’re generally trying to do nothing more than their jobs and do those jobs to the best of their ability.

What we, each and every one of us who chooses this life, must accept and fully understand is that we’re producing a product that needs to be found valuable in the eyes of commodity brokers. We won’t always strike pay dirt, and even if we get picked up, the even more fickle audience of people buying books can reject everyone upstream of them.

You MUST get used to rejection, be prepared for it and do everything in your power to simply keep writing. If you consider yourself a writer, then never give up and never surrender, no matter what ANYONE says.

Good luck and good hunting!


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