Recently, our own Avalon author, Laverne St. George, posted a blog about “Actively Waiting.” Her article spurred the idea for my blog. Thanks Laverne.
Writers meticulously edit their manuscripts; agonize over writing great synopses, and query letters, then like proud parents send their babies off to an agent or an editor. After months of waiting, hoping, fingers crossed, and even praying to receive THE call, very often the postman delivers THE self-addressed stamped envelope that was included with the submission. Or if the submission was sent electronically, then comes THE email that sinks your self-esteem and causes you to question whether or not you should continue writing. You know the one – The Dreaded Rejection letter.
It’s a fact of life that all writers must face. Receiving a rejection letter is inevitable. Authors with several published novels to their acclaim are not immune to rejection letters. The renowned singer Frank Sinatra once said, “The best revenge is massive success.” He never spoke truer words, particularly when it comes to aspiring authors, who after suffering several disappointments, and sometimes, harsh putdowns from publishers and agents, went on to become world famous authors.
Rejections letters can be defeating. Don’t let it. There are many just like you who’ve suffered the nasty little digs from publishers and gone one to become published, and in some instances, very well published. Here is a sampling of those who’ve had the sweet revenge that Frank Sinatra mentioned.
Stephen King: If you’ve read his book, you know he received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie. One publisher said, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopia. They do not sell.”
Anne Franke: According to one publisher, The Diary of Anne Franke “was scarcely worth reading.” 15 publishers rejected the book.
William Golding: Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers. Yet it became a best seller and was made into a movie. One publisher stated the book was “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
J.K. Rowling – “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorceror’s) Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and Harper Collins. Boomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book.”
Tony Hillerman: now famous for his Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, “was initially told by publishers to get rid of all that Indian stuff.”
John Grishman: His first novel, A time to Kill, was “rejected by a dozen publishers and 16 agents before breaking into print.”
Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time was “rejected by 26 publishers before finally breaking into print. It went on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal.”
Margaret Mitchell: Gone With the Wind was “rejected 36 times before finally finding a publisher.” And we’ve all come to love the movie version.
Judy Blume: received “nothing but rejections for two years.” According to Ms. Blume: I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published, but I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.”
As writers, we can be inspired by Ms. Blume’s tenacity. Her determination and hard work certainly paid off. “She is now considered one of the most influential children’s literature writers of her generation.”
The list goes on with many writers who suffered the agony of rejection letters filled with discouraging and often snide remarks. Who knows, you may one day join some of the wealthiest scribblers on the globe.
Danielle Steele: romance novelist with $30 million dollars to her acclaim.
Tom Clancy: best-selling espionage and military science writer, claimed $35 million this past year. Others on the list of wealthy authors include: Nicolas Sparks, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, and Ken Follet. All of whom banked enough last year to sail around the world, pay off their mortgages, and have enough left over for a nice nest-egg.
The down-turn in today’s economy has caused many publishers to shut their doors, while others have been subsumed by larger publishers. Unlike our aforementioned counterparts, today’s authors face a limited number of publishing houses to whom they can submit. My suggestion is to reread Ms. Blume’s words. Take heart, keep writing, continue to submit, and like Stephen King, paper your walls with rejection letters. Someday, you’ll have your own sweet revenge.