This is the first follow up to the 50 Shades of Submission post by V.S. Holmes from last week. I wanted to jump in and get the rejection part out of the way for two reasons, one, it's not nearly as exciting as acceptance and two, we all have to go through it. Writing and publishing is not easy and putting your heart and soul on the line to be judged by another human being is no walk in the park. I was so worried about rejection in the early years of my writing that I actually never expected to be accepted and just resigned myself to it.
Now, years later, I'm an award winning author and I still find myself in a state of disbelief when people actually like my work.
All right boys and girls, lets get into the nitty gritty of this post. Guess what? Rejection is not the worst thing that can happen to you in this business. How you respond to rejection will determine whether you have a nice long career or if you find yourself on a cliff surrounded by burned bridges and no where to go but down and out.
When you first get the rejection email: Do not for any reason, any at all, immediately write a response. You are emotional and upset, understandably, but the person on the other end of that email doesn't care. This is business and if you want to have any hope of making it, do not piss them off. The publishing community is a small one and agents and publishers talk.
Get up, away from the computer or cell phone, go for a walk, call your mom and complain away. Scream to the heavens above about the injustice of it all. Get it out so you don't have that toxic sludge burning a hole in your creativity but do not sling it at the person who did their job and rejected you. Chances are good they didn't like doing it.
If you are invited to respond: Most publishers and agents will not do this because they just don't have the time. I am including this however, for the places like Amphibian Press whose ultimate goal is to help you grow as an author and who does want to let you know exactly why your piece was rejected and how you can improve your chances for next time.
If this happens, wait a few days before you make the inquiry. If your email is less than professional or just goes on and on about how you cannot believe you were rejected, it will come off as entitled and it it doubtful they would look for any more submissions from you. They may also decide to wash their hands of you all together and not tell you why you were rejected which leaves you to figure it out on your own. Hopefully before you send it to every agent and publisher in the genre.
Also, stick to the topic at hand. This ties right back into the last paragraph. The person who rejected you already made their decision, throwing a tantrum now will not help your case or your writing.
Contracts: People have a funny way of viewing contracts as a magical piece of paper that protects them. When in fact it's a legal document that protects both parties. If you don't live up to your end of the bargain that contract is null and void. So don't bother trying to use it as a bargaining chip to change their mind. It won't work. They designed that little piece of paper to protect their assets. In this case, their name. If they don't feel 100% confident in your piece a professional publisher or agent will not put their name and reputation on the line for it.
If you know someone in the industry: This does not mean you have an automatic in. It means your piece might get read more often. It still needs to be finished and it still has to stand on its own. Again no one is going to put their name or company name on the line for your piece. It's up to you to make it the best it can be. Also in the this situation, do not respond harshly or snidely to a rejection after someone put their neck on the line to get you in the door. It makes them look bad for suggesting the team give you a chance and it makes them feel awful for subjecting the rest of the people involved to your temper.
The trick is to walk away from rejection without regrets. You don't want to say something in anger that you will regret later and you don't want the people in the publishing industry to think you're a hot head who can't handle this as a professional adult.
The bottom line, rejection sucks. But how you handle it can make or break your writing career.
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