Wise Words on Rejection

The road to a publishing deal is, for most writers, littered with rejection. Beginning with the search for an agent, through to the submission process to publishing houses, it is a very rare experience to travel this road without receiving many rejections.

But take heart: some of the most successful authors have also been rejected, and have some wise words to say about the process. Here are a few quotes to keep you motivated, from some of the best:

Renowned American poet and novelist, Sylvia Path, author of The Bell Jar, said of rejection slips (or “passes” as agents prefer to call them), “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” I love this quote, as submitting your written work takes courage. The submission process is a difficult but necessary part of the publishing business and you won’t get published if you don’t do it!

Isaac Asimov, author of ground-breaking science-fiction works such The Foundation Series and I-Robot, had this to say about the submission process: “You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success—but only if you persist.”

Barbara Kingsolver, author of bestselling books such as The Poisonwood Bible, echoes this thought: “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”

This is very true—it just takes finding the one agent  who loves your work, and then the one editor who loves it too, to get a deal, therefore the passes that come just bring you that much closer to finding the right editor. The key is to keep searching and submitting.

Even the legendary novelist and poet Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, experienced rejection. “For every accomplishment there were twenty rejections… In the end, though, only one attitude enabled me to move ahead. That attitude said, ‘Rejection can simply mean redirection.‘”

Finally, Stephen King’s debut novel, Carrie, was rejected thirty times before receiving an offer of publication, but it was not his first rejection. He has this to say about the process: “By the time I was fourteen, the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

Getting published is a tough process, but hang in there, and know that you are in great company. If you need a pep talk, we’re always here—contact us for a consultation.

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