One of the things that a writer has to learn, especially early on, is how to deal with rejection. There is no writer alive who hasn’t gotten rejected a number of times. Most continue to gather rejections well into their careers. It gets rarer, but I have heard well-established writers say that they still get rejections. So after learning to finish things, learning how to deal with rejections is one of the most important things you can learn as a writer. So given that I’ve just started querying and am about to face a whole LOT of rejection, I figured I would share my favorite strategies and remind myself that they exist.
You knew this was coming. The writer Kevin J. Anderson has talked about how he once beat every writer in a conference in amount of rejections by weight. My goal is to beat him. The only number I’ve seen from him is “over 800”, so I figure I should be safe shooting for 900. Yesterday, I got my 85th short story rejection, and with my previous round of query rejections (6), I’m starting to get close to my first 100. And when I reach that mythical number, I fully intend to celebrate! And then get my next short story out on the road. Or my next novel query, whatever’s closer.
Signs of progress
One of the things that Mary Robinette Kowal tells her students is that rejections are a sign of your progress. Every new rejection you get is a sign that you’re trying something. You’re working toward something that you want. Especially if you’re always putting out your best work, getting those rejections means that you are making progress.
Get your writing buddies involved!
My very favorite thing is to get my writing buddies involved. I’ve done a yearly rejection competition a number of times with various groups. The grand prize has usually been a couple of chocolate bars or about $20 to the winner’s favorite charity. I don’t think I’ve ever won, but I’ve always made progress. Making getting that rejection into a social thing takes a lot of the sting out of it. Instead of “Oh shit, no one wants my stories” it becomes “I’m coming for your numbers Amman!”. Anything that has the ability to make getting a rejection even a little bit more fun is good.
It’s not real
Honestly, somehow I’ve lucked into this weird attitude. I honestly don’t expect to get a sale at this point. I’m simply sending stories out to the next preferred market all the while creating more and more. While I do want an audience for my stories, I’m mainly creating stories for myself. So even though Scales Of Defiance was solicited, I didn’t send it with the expectation of actually making a sale. Reader, I screamed. I cried. I read the text 20 times to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood. Until we got to the editing process, it wasn’t real to me. Sure, I signed a contract, but contracts get broken all the time. Things happen, books get canceled. I really didn’t think about that story between the times when things weren’t actively happening on it, because it’s still not entirely real. It’s a bit more real now because I’ve seen the copyedit proofs. Maybe it’ll be real when I hold my contributor copies.
Now, dear reader, go out there and gather thee your rejections!