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Bob Nailor




Rejection Is A Good Thing?

Everyone considers rejection a bad thing. If you are rejected by the person who you adore and love, is life worth living? If you are rejected for that loan, whatever will you do? And the examples could go on and on...

For the writer, rejection comes in many forms and some are bad, leaving the author in utter dejection. But, other rejections can be good. Good, you ask? Yes, but first let me explain and give you examples.

Example 1: A letter of rejection from the a) publisher, b) agent, c) editor.
Example 2: A bad review, another form of rejection.
Example 3: Poor sales, an obscure rejection, but still a rejection.

Starting with the third example first, we'll work backwards. If the author is 'enjoying' book sales, rather than being ecstatic about the great sales, then, more than likely, there are issues to be addressed with the work. Whether it be a novel, a poem or a magazine article, if nobody is noticing it, sales will flounder. Even flooding social media with great marketing savvy can't help a book some times!

Of course, moving to the second example, a bad review, can also have some influence on this aspect. A bad review can actually be a good thing. This is not what you expected to hear. Of course, this is totally dependent on the actual review. If the reviewer comments on the editing, that is, the spelling, grammar and punctuation, those are items that can be corrected and the review can be called good. But, if the reviewer comments are regarding the content or main characters, again, it could be for the betterment of the project. If the derogatory comment is about a character, this is something you can address and fix. The same holds true for an article. If you are weak in an aspect of the subject matter, you can place more effort at that section to bolster the article's interest and readability. If the reviewer pans you with no explanation, at that point, it is a bad review and there is little hope to salvage anything. Don't ever rise to the bait of a bad review and attempt to justify yourself. Accept a bad review with grace and dignity and move on.

The rejection letter is, by far, the best form of rejection to address. Whatever you do, never, ever think you 'have it in the bag' when sending out a query or manuscript, whether it be to a publisher, agent or editor. Why do I say this? I found an agent who was seeking a) a female lead, b) vampires, c) Brazilian jungle, d) historical background, e) current military or civilian action, f) religious overtones and, of course, g) some sex. So I was more than thrilled to send my work, Ancient Blood: The Amazon which entailed a young anthropologist female who discovers vampires in the Brazilian Amazon jungle which have been hidden since the Conquistadors discovered the Amazon River. There are local police and government officials with a lot of 'shoot them up' scenes with government scandals and, of course, secret religious orders manipulating things via different sources. Oh, and there was sex, too! My partner and I figured we'd nailed the requirements and had us an agent. I sent the email and waited excitedly... a whole five (5) minutes. The agent replied:

Not what I'm looking for.

HUH? Obviously we'd made a mistake in what the agent was seeking even though we seemed to have hit the requirements directly. I can only guess that the agent was looking for a more YA (aka Harry Potter) type tale.

Still, when you receive a rejection letter, if you're lucky, there might be comments informing you of the short-comings. It isn't often that occurs in today's harried publishing world, but there are still some editors who will send more than a standard reject form. Take the notes and read them, analyze and learn from what has been offered. Years ago (aka decades) an e-zine publisher rejected my short story with an offer of a possible re-read if I could explain the time continuum and how it was involved with time travel. I revamped my short story, staying within the guidelines and resubmitted. It was accepted. My novel, An Amish Voice, is currently with an agent and it has been sent to various publishing houses. One was interested but only if I was willing to add another 25 thousand words to the story and another possible love interest. I agreed, the publisher read but rejected the story. Still, I had been given an interesting twist to add to my story if I decide to finally self-publish the story if no other publishing house picks it up. When an agent, publisher or editor makes suggestions, remember to evaluate and then decide if it is something that can improve the article or story. This is when a rejection is a good thing.

Do rejections hurt? Yes! Of course they hurt. This is your baby. This is your pride and joy. You've labored over this manuscript or article, pouring your heart and soul into the pages. To have another person defile the sanctity of your work is a very difficult thing to accept.

Remember, it is only through rejection that a writer can improve and with improvement, become published. Almost every writer, from the very unknown to the very well-known, like Stephen King, none were an overnight sensation. They, the well-knowns, received rejections just as the unknowns received.

Rejections are not an item to hide shamefully but to wear as a badge of honor. They are your scars to sport proudly in the battle to publication.




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~ COMMENTS ~

Elyse Salpeter
2014-10-27
I think the hardest rejection for me is the bad review. That can live with me for days and days. Agent rejections, editor rejections? Heck, I've lived with that for over 10 years - numb by now. Low sales? Well, that is something I keep plodding through. Nice post!
~ Reply to this comment ~

Bob Nailor
2014-10-27
The thing about bad reviews is one must analyze if the reviewer is bad-mouthing the book or author. If the book, what aspect of the book and can it be fixed or addressed in the next work? If the author, well, at that point, consider it sour-grapes and move on. Don't ever spend too much time on a review sulking - it only brings you down and an author must grow, so to grow, glean and learn from the review.
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Tamie Dearen
2014-10-27
I have the hardest time when a reviewer criticizes my characters. After spending so much time with my characters, they become like family. It's so hard no to feel defensive of them as I would with my own children. LOL
Nice post!
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Bob Nailor
2014-10-27
We all want to protect our babies but once we put them out there for the public to view - we must learn to let them stand on their own. We can sometimes take them back for a little revamping, if we feel the need.
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Scott Bury
2014-10-27
Very interesting to consider low sales as a form of rejection. I think it must be hard to change something you've written to meet a publisher's requirements. Do high sales mean a better book? Not necessarily. At what point do you say "these changes will mean a different story than the one I wanted to tell"?
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Bob Nailor
2014-10-27
Scott, I released a book back in April w/ no fanfare. Come September, it still had NO sales. It is a form of rejection to see your baby sit silently with no recognition... even a single sale would have felt good. As to changes, everything is subject to YOUR approval. I have had editors suggest major deletions and changes. Some were viable but some I just couldn't see myself changing for, as you said, it would modify the book too much.
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Ms. Cheevious
2014-10-27
I think you missed something about #3... It could just be that the person has absolutely NO marketing savvy, and isn't getting their work OUT THERE at all. That will keep sales down, for sure!
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Bob Nailor
2014-10-27
BAM! You hit the nail on the head. There are those who have NO marketing savvy. Even a poorly written description (when self-publishing) can sell a book or doom a book. Marketing is a necessary evil for every writer.
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Elise Stokes
2014-10-27
Great and relatable post. I wouldn't take an agent or publisher rejection to heart. Our industries broken business model and no one knowing how to sell anymore would probably play more into the rejection than the author's work. Unless you're a Kardashian or Snooki, then you're good.
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Bob Nailor
2014-10-27
You're right, Elise. But, if a publisher or editor gives you feedback, you must examine it and then decide if you want to act on it or not. My Christian novel is a good tale but it is lacking that "bonnet" love story so many readers want, hence, the lack of getting it published by a large publishing house. When I get it back, I can see I must add another subplot to entice the reader.
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Calinda B
2014-10-28
I went to the Emerald City Writer's conference recently and was impressed when author Victoria Dahl talked about the emails some of her readers send her. Some feel obliged to tell her how much they didn't like the book, how the female lead wasn't worthy of the male hero, or other derogatory comments. "How do you deal with those?" I asked, shocked. I'd be crushed. "I just hit the delete key," she said.

I'm going to learn how to be that calm, too.
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Bob Nailor
2014-10-28
I received a devastating review where he said he couldn't finish reading the book because he was bored. At first I thought I'd have a heart attack and was about to respond when I noticed that he usually did reviews of "soft porn" or men's 'girly' books. It was obvious he was looking for more sex than I had in the novel he was belittling. My publisher, when I asked about what to do, informed me to let it sink back into the depths and just ignore it. As an up side to the review? I learned to validate just how much sex the reviewer is hoping to find in the story. Again, I learned or as Victoria Dahl suggested - Use the delete key!
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James Prescott
2014-10-30
Important post with a lot of truth there Bob - challenging & important, totally agree.
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