It happens to the majority of writers. The one thing you never want to hear when you submit your baby; the novel you slaved over, cried over, deliberated over, doubted yourself over and lost more than a few hours of sleep over, 'It's not for us'.
No matter how agents, publishers or editors put it, whether they tie it up in a bouquet of pretty flowers, have it delivered with a lifetime supply of Green and Blacks chocolate or don't reply to you at all, a rejection hurts.
These days I submit manuscripts to fewer people. I've given up submitting to agents and only submit to publishing houses. I do my homework and research who they're publishing and what they say they're looking for.
I submit a manuscript with high hopes, no matter how ridiculous the notion that a publisher would pick my manuscript out of the thousands that land on their door mat each day. I mean us writers should be amazed that they even get around to reading the submissions. But their websites insist they do, so we click Send and sit and wait ... mostly for the rejection letter.
A couple of years ago one of my manuscripts stood out from the rest and I got interest from a well known digital first publisher. In fact two publishers were interested in this manuscript and I went with the one who called me first. What did I care. They wanted my book. They wanted to publish my book! And not just one. I'd written three novels that followed the life of my heroine and I was lucky enough to sign contracts for all three!
What bliss to feel like one of the chosen few. I allowed myself to think I'd become a sensation. You do, don't you? Of course I wasn't a sensation. I mean, have you ever heard of me?
There's no guarantee that just because a publisher plucks you from the pile and thrusts a contract in your eager palm that you'll become a best seller. As time went on it was clear that readers were not as keen as my editor was about my books. The readers are the people the publishers have to please and they take chances, or not, based on what they believe the readers actually want. So every time you get a rejection it isn't because you wrote a bad book or your writing was bad or your story sucked, it was because a person or group of people sat and decided they knew readers better than writers do.
When my publisher rejected my next two books (unrelated to the first three) I really took it personally. Granted I had a new editor but the only thing I could think was of how terrible a writer I was that my own publishers will no longer take a chance on me.
Needless to say I've been on an all time writing low for well over a year now. Thoughts of giving up, doubting my ability to write and feeling irrelevant haunted me. It stopped me writing. I didn't even blog! I stopped Tweeting and I dropped out of Social Media altogether. Something I now regret.
No matter how reassuring husbands, family members and friends can be about your talent, they're not the ones who can make a difference to your writing career. So we tell them, 'no I won't give up' but all the time it was what I wanted to do. Give up writing.
Then I woke up. I went to the Reviews section for my books. I read each and every one. I remembered what a boost reading good reviews could be. The reviews made me start believing in myself again. I decided then to submit those rejected novels to a couple of publishers. I've been rejected by one, the other I haven't heard from. But it doesn't matter. I feel like a writer again. The self doubt is a thing of the past. I accept that rejection is part of the process to reaching your publication goals.
The other thing I remembered was that before I was traditionally published I self published two novels and a novella. My self published books sell better than the traditionally published ones so why not go down the self pub avenue again. It's still open and relatively free. Yes I'm going to have to brush up on my marketing skills, shove my hand into my wallet to pay for editing, proof reading, book covers and all the rest of it but at least I'm being proactive. I'm not sitting around asking someone else if I'm any good.
I am a good writer. I can write. I may not be the best but I love what I do and I love to share my stories with readers. So I've picked myself up, dusted myself off and I'm starting all over again. (See my previous post).
Remember a rejection is subjective and it isn't an indication (necessarily) of how good you are and whether you should pursue publishing your book. Just go for it. It's better than sitting in a dark room licking your wounds (I only did that for one day).
Even if you're rejected for something else, not necessarily a book rejection, take the negative and try to turn it into a positive. There's always a way to do this, you just have to believe in yourself.