Rejection Wednesday #2

I recently counted up the number of rejections I received on one novel. It’s called THE SOUL ACCORD, and it’s an action-packed, Young Adult supernatural thriller with a killer twist and guess what? It’s been rejected 37 times.

Thirty. Seven. Rejections. And that was only from the most recent round of queries.

I had shopped the novel around a few years ago, added a good 60-some rejections to the ol’ collection, and shelved it for two years after receiving my infamous THISCLOSE rejection.

Whelp, with a new determination, I rewrote the sucker. We’re talking a 70% overhaul. Key scene shakeups, the removal of whole plot elements and the addition of others, all while changing main character names and the story title. And what do I have to show for all my hard work?

Thirty. Seven. More. Rejections.

There have been some partial manuscript requests sprinkled here and there, sure. But ultimately, 37 “NO THANK YOU’S”. Altogether, that’s close to 100 rejections, and that’s just on one novel. I’ve also shopped around no less than three others, each of those collecting 15-20ish rejections before I put them on the backburner for a future time. So you’re talking, ballpark, 150 rejections. You know how much 150 rejections is?

A buttload. That’s how much.

The question becomes, when is the proverbial breaking point at which one accepts defeat? Is it when you hit the 150th rejection? Or the 200th? Is it only when you’ve queried every single literary agent that ever agented? Is it simply when you get tired of looking at the story? Or, do you just never quit? Do you keep revising your query letter and your manuscript endlessly until someone finally says “Yes”, dammit? But what if the premise is the issue and not how it’s written? What if it’s just the idea that will never be marketable in agent land? Is it time to think about self-publication just to let your work see the light of day?

I’m fairly certain these are the thoughts that go through every novelist’s mind while seeking traditional publication.

Here’s my two cents.

First of all, self-publication does not equal failure, just in case anyone thinks I was implying that. For starters, you spare yourself the sheer unabated misery of getting slapped in the face with 150 rejections. Self-pub can be a great thing, especially if you’re able to properly market and advertise your novel. But unfortunately, not everyone has the means and savvy to make themselves stand out from the sea of other self-publishers on Kindle, which is why traditional publication is often seen as that metaphorical light beam sent down from heaven. Only, that beam of light is directed at that statue in the beginning of Indiana Jones. You know, the one that sets off the giant boulder booby trap?


For me personally, I feel like I’ll know when I’m ready to throw in the traditional publication towel, and today ain’t it. I’ve still got fight left in me, and a whole array of novel ideas swimming around in my head that I intend to pitch to every agent who’ll hear it. I’m going to pitch until my pitching muscle is torn beyond repair. I’m going to pitch until someone chains me to the dugout. Because remember, all it takes is one “Yes” to get that foot in the door.

And you know what, 2017 feels like the year of YES.

Keep those dreams alive, folks!

Until next time,


70 thoughts on “Rejection Wednesday #2”

  1. I feel your pain. I stopped counting after sixty rejections. In all I must have sent out over a hundred queries. And you know what? I have only ever had one request for the full ms ever. And that’s on every book I’ve ever subbed to agents. One thing (well, there are a whole load of others too) that bothers me is that this one agent, after being rejected by every other agent in the entire world of agents, who says ‘yes, I love it, I’ll represent you, why would I believe her? Why should she be right about my book and all the other fuckers be wrong? If agents are what they’re cracked up to be, the ones who ‘see’ the potential of a book, why if 99 of them say, ‘crap’ would I believe the one who says ‘awesome’? Looking at what they would die for, if you don’t write YA (with very short words, please) about a black trans/gay/rainbow-coloured woman with some kind of mental disorder living in a non-European medieval world where they have white sliced bread, warriors (open to women), mages (open to women) and healers (almost uniquely women) you just don’t have a chance.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Writing is truly such a subjective thing. And with agents it’s so tricky because a novel not only has to match with their personal taste, but also with what they feel the market is looking for at that very moment. But keep in mind, plenty of famous authors were rejected hundreds of times. Stephen King had so many rejection letters that he started nailing them to the wall until that nail could no longer support their weight. Louis Lamour had 200 rejections. The Chicken Soup for the Soul had something like 130. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had well over 100 rejections, too. So rejections certainly don’t mean you lack talent, it just means you haven’t hit that “market sweet spot” yet. Aka finding the right agent at the right time and with the right idea. Best you can do is research agents to figure out their personal taste, and target your queries toward those who seem to vibe the most with your style. It’s definitely an uphill battle, but I don’t think hope is lost just yet. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and best of luck to you in your writing endeavors!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for adding that reality check 🙂 I don’t know if you ever follow the twitter #MSWL to see what agents are crying out for. Makes mind boggling reading. I know what you mean about finding the agents who (ought to) have a feeling for the kind of stuff you write, but often I’ve found I tick all the right boxes and still get a no response. I subbed an agent recently who said she wanted an epic fantasy with the sea, monsters, and as a bonus (she thought she was shortening the field) she wanted twins. I thought, this is my lucky day— I’ve written that one. Form rejection, almost instantaneous. She obviously didn’t mean those kind of monsters, or not that particular type of twins 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh wow that is incredibly specific lol. But… but they weren’t conjoined twins! And the sea was in the wrong hemisphere! I hear ya. It can be so, so incredibly frustrating. And sometimes I really am lost as to what needs to be done differently. I usually resort to revising my opening pages a few thousand times. Also, I actually have not heard of that twitter! I will definitely check it out though. Thanks for letting me know!


    2. Jane, I just saw your books listed on your blog, and they definitely sound interesting to me! So I don’t know what the agents weren’t seeing. But anyway, good for you for getting ’em out there, and best of luck!


      1. I think I write pretty interesting stuff with a fair bit of lyricism, well researched and with a good vocabulary. But it isn’t enough. It lacks that je ne sais quoi. Probably a lesbian unicyclist with bipolar disorder…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you might like the story of Boyd Morrison. Even with an agent, he couldn’t sell his books and ended up self-publishing. He’s one of those self-published success stories and he writes with Clive Cussler. For me, even though I tell myself rejection is part of the business, each rejection hurts, especially when I think I’ve found an extra-good fit. But there’s an article out there about making 100 rejection each year your goal and I love that one, because in all your rejections, you still haven’t hit that. Now, think about trying to get 100 each year; honestly WANTING 100 rejections each year. It’s a lot of work, but if you can do it, there will be some acceptance as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t heard about him but now I’m definitely interested in reading more! And wow, I can’t imagine trying for 100 rejections, but I guess by sheer volume something good is more likely to happen. Something to think about! Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Super post! I can relate! Although, I more often get IGNORED rather than actual rejections. I suppose it comes to the same thing. And how about being asked for the full manuscript, and then not hearing a peep? Even after a polite little nudge, e.g. “I was just wondering if you’ve had a chance to…” Sigh. Well, as implied, it is a numbers game… as with a lottery ticket. I think I’ll know when it’s time to stop and self-pub. When I just. can’t. write. one. more damn query!!! Thanks and you’ve just earned one more follower! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, that’s exactly what happened to me. Got the request for full with revisions, completed extensive revisions, sent the revised manuscript… then never heard another word from that agent. Bummer. But, new year and new opportunities! And best of luck to you! Also, thank you for the follow 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jack! I certainly don’t have anything against self-publishing, and more power to those who can do so successfully. I’m just not ready to go that route quite yet, though I’m sure I will know when I reach my tipping point. Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went through what you are putting yourself through for less than a year before I took the step to break my contract with my publisher and become an Indie, a decision I’ve never regretted. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Awesome blog! I just tweeted it.

    I’m at @DyaneHarwood – it’s my new handle, so I don’t have many followers yet, but you never know who reads it! I look forward to reading your latest posts during our Tahoe trip, which starts tonight! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! Glad to hear of your success with self-publishing, it’s been nice hearing from writers of both the trad-pub-seeking and self-pub variety, and I now know quite a few people to ask for advice if I do ever go the self-pub route. Thanks for stopping by and posting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Aw, the dreaded rejections! Trust me, you aren’t alone. J.K. Rowling’s
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times. Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times, he pinned every rejection letter he received to his wall with a nail. “By the time I was fourteen, the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.” So, keep at it. Perseverance is an admirable trait for writers.
    Thank you for following my blog and welcome to the fence jumpers. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I went the self publishing route while my manuscript was into a publisher and hadn’t even been rejected yet. This is a tough business. I have only recouped about 10% of the cost of my first novel in 15 months on the market. Google ads were a waste. The publisher’s (Lulu) author website that I had for one year was a waste. Putting the book out electronically on Kindle Direct Publishing and then running a 3-day free promotion was a waste. Now I’m wondering what to do with book 2 of my trilogy which is about 40% finished. I keep plodding along, hoping to get noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As much as we love writing, sometimes it can be a real headache too. Unfortunately I’m not very knowledgeable yet about self-pub and advertising, there are probably a lot of self-pub experts around that can give you some better advice than I could. All I can say is keep at it, and I’m sure all your hard work will pay off. Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a good post – worth reading by any of us who have submitted and been rejected. My YA novel has only been rejected 5 or 6 times so far, but as we’re heading into the New Year and I’m preparing to resubmit … Thanks for the inspiration and I hope I can take on a little of your determination.
    BTW, have you tried Swoon Reads? Exclusively YA, your work is read by the community, given feedback by your target audience and if you’re very, very lucky a publishing contract by Macmillan. I’m thinking of trying it myself.
    Thanks very much for the follow and for introducing me to your great blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by! And good luck on your novel! Those 5-6 could easily turn into a yes yet. And 2017 is a whole new year of opportunities 🙂 Also haven’t heard of that site but will definitely check it out, thanks for letting me know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good luck to you too. You clearly have the vital ingredients to success – a good way with words and cartloads of determination and persistence! I hope 2017 is brilliant for you. Do let me know if you try out Swoon Reads – sounds intriguing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Well that sucks. Definitely keep revising and sending out. I would really like to pick your brain on the whole process. Are you just sending your MS out unsolicited? If so, where? I’ve only been able to find a few publisher willing to accept unsolicited submissions. Have you thought about using an agent? What I’ve read says that’s the way to go, but I don’t know if I believe it (all those articles are probably written by agents, right? ha!). I’m about halfway through my revisions for my first book and need to start thinking about publishing. It seems all a bit shadowy from my vantage point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! I’m only sending to agents so far, and only required query and sample pages unless they specifically request partial or full manuscript. I haven’t tried cutting past the agent and going straight to a publisher yet, but it’s been my understanding that most publishing houses won’t even look at unagented authors these days – at the very least it makes the process much harder. But anyway keep going with that novel, and best of luck! I’m more than willing to provide any tips that I can, although still being unagented, my knowledge only goes so far :/

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, I am currently slogging through the swamp of “thanks but no thanks” as well. My first flirt with the all powerful LA’s ended in a 100% rejection. Tough pill, but hey that’s the game right? So like you, I rewrite, revise and edit. I’m off to the races again with 95 queries out in the land of Agents and I’ve gotten 10 big fat nopes already! It’s a numbers game for sure, patience, persistence and the will to never give up will win us our reward! All you need is one yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ‘You lose only when you accept that you did lose. Until then just keep trying, no matter what.’ This post shouted aloud these sentences.
    You know what, I didn’t read this line, but sang it – I’ve still got fight left in me. It reminded me of Rachel Platten’s ‘Fight’ song. 😀
    And 2017 is definitely going to be an year of YES! You go girl. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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