I was rejected! Well, not really me, my novel. But, yeah, it was me, because I put so much of me into it. I had high hopes that, finally, this was the one – the agent who would tell me my story was good enough. But… that wasn’t the case. She didn’t connect, but she did give me a list of excellent suggestions for how to improve. For the first day, I was heartbroken. My work was judged unworthy – again.
But if I let rejection define me, I would never overcome my fear to discover what I could become or what I could truly accomplish. The movie Overcomer reinforced that life lesson. Though I’ve always pushed against challenges and barriers. If you don’t want me to try something, the worst thing you could do was tell me I couldn’t do it.
Therefore, I drew a breath, read a blog post by Tamera Alexander about the worst reader emails she’s ever received, and responded to her with the pain of my rejection. She prayed for me in her response – a most lovely gesture. Meanwhile I thanked the agent for her honest critique, knowing I needed to rework parts of the novel, but dreading the process after so many previous rewrites.
The agent’s response (the fact she responded at all, as busy as she is) took my breath away. Such an encouragement! Words are powerful, friends! Be mindful how you use them. Hers motivated me to go back to the story one more time (or ten) until it is the best I can make it.
With the excellent suggestions – nearly a page – I’m sure I can craft the plot into one that is more gripping than it is now. One which, if I ever have the opportunity to submit to her again, could latch on and grip her so tightly, she won’t be able to let it go. Hey! I can dream, right?
So, maybe not the same agent, but perhaps another who likes my kind of stories and will get behind them with as much enthusiasm as I do.
The takeaway here is: when you receive a rejection or even a harsh critique, it will hurt. Give it some time, step away and breath. Remember that all those authors whose work is published received similar rejections. Maybe even less kind ones than yours.
Be sure to thank the person for their time, their suggestions, even their criticism. Never burn your bridges or act in an unprofessional manner. Maybe they didn’t like this particular story, but what if the next one you write is a perfect fit for them? If you’ve responded rudely, or failed to respond at all, they may trash your email before they even read your pitch.
Gentle. That’s my word for 2022. I’m trying new things. Keeping my responses gentle, my defensive mechanisms in check, my need to interject. God will definitely have to help me with these goals, but a gentle answer turns away wrath, as Proverbs 15 reminds us. And, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, which I am trying to cultivate this new year.
There is a reason the saying talks about honey. Sweeten your words and your reactions in the face of disappointment and difficulty. Others will remember your professionalism and be more likely to give you a chance the next time. It could be the difference between a publishing contract and the slush pile.
A new year means new projects, new partnerships, new goals and new books to read. Thanks for joining me on the journey! If you enjoyed this post, consider subscribing to my newsletter to get new content before it is posted on the blog AND receive a free gift – a short fantasy story from me to you. You’ll also be eligible for periodic giveaways, drawings, and other freebies as well as the latest news and book recommendations.
Speaking of book recs and reviews – check out my newest venture – Rebecca and Rebecca: Reading, Writing, Reviewing. Our first episode released on January 26th.