Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dealing With Rejection

Taken from here.
Have you seen this article by The Huffington Post about Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, a literary agent with Larsen Pomada in San Francisco, who was recently attacked by a disgruntled author?  After receiving a rejection to his query, the man allegedly found her in a parking lot, where he repeatedly smashed her face into her steering wheel.  Thankfully, van Hylckama Vlieg was able to get away, and according to her Twitter page, she's doing okay.

Now this calls into question Internet usage, and the sometimes ugly side of social networking.  Sheena has an excellent post about over-sharing here.  I won't go into the safety issues that arise from sharing your every move on Facebook or Twitter.  It should be common sense, and if it's not, the Huffington Post link goes into that far better than I could.  I'm more interested in the disturbing--and apparently commonplace practice--of sending hate mail to agents after being rejected.

I doubt anyone reading this post needs to be told that this is a no-no.  It is my sincere belief that people are, on a whole, good.  But it makes me wonder how others handle rejection.  What do you do when, after pouring your heart out into a story, after sweating over your query for hours, you receive a form rejection?  Worse, when you receive a personal rejection that cuts your work down or calls into question your decision to be a writer?  What then?

I've had my share of query rejection.  Most of them were very bland.  "Thank you for your submission.  We do not feel we are suited to this project.  Good luck in your endeavors."  Blah.  Once, and only once, I got one that I think was actually written by a human, specifically for me.  The agent was sweet, very funny, and told me to keep going.  And I do.

But it's painful sometimes, to read that your work wasn't right, or wasn't good enough, or just wasn't...whatever it is books need to be to get that magical stamp of approval.  Would it help if I told you are not alone?  Even the best of the best were turned down, sometimes even laughed at, when they started writing.  Check out this post to see what authors like George Orwell, Stephen King, and Joseph Heller had to put up with when they tried to sell their books.  (Here's another, though some of them are repeats.)

It's not going to be easy if you choose to pursue publication.  It doesn't matter if you are self-publishing or if you're querying agents.  You're going to meet with people who don't like your work, don't like your characters, don't understand your point, or just don't like you.  Face it, accept it, and ignore it.  It's not worth splitting hairs over what every single person you come across thinks about you and your writing.

Take heart, my friends, and forge ahead.  Remember why you write.  Hold fast to your passion and your determination.  When you meet with rejection, learn what you can from it, but move on.  It'll make you a better writer--and a happier person--in the long run.



  1. Wow, that was crazy. I'm glad that agent wasn't seriously injured.

    Great post! Dealing with rejection is tough, and it is hard not to take it personal, but really there is no way to avoid it.

  2. I like this. Rejection is tough. I just try to ignore it best as I can, but I think you're right... I should try to learn more from it.

    Nice post!


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