What’s in a Rejection? by Kerri Lane, author of over 60 titles.
I think learning to appreciate rejection was harder for me than for some other authors. The reason was that my early career was rather blessed. Sure, my very first attempt was rejected, but it was only a flesh-wound rejection. The editor actually asked me to reset it in First Person POV and resubmit . I did and she accepted it.
Despite this, the publication of that book, Cassie Who, a YA novel, wasn’t a slam dunk. The line closed before my book came up for production, so it wasn’t published. At least not then. But I was young and eager and dusted myself off pretty quickly and immediately sent it out to Longman Cheshire (now under the gigantic Pearson umbrella) – and it was accepted again, along with a second novel I’d also sent a partial of in the same submission.
Yes, I know – it was brash and I was naïve…
But during the wait time, I was given another opportunity to submit to a romantic anthology for Pan Macmillan – and that was accepted (No Replacements; No Guarantees; Summer of Love Anthology). Fired by this, I had also sent off an outline for a reader to Rigby and guess what? It was accepted and along with that acceptance came a commission for another reader.
I was batting a thousand as they say…
So, I guess when I got my first real rejection, it really knocked me for six. My confidence was shaken; I’d had a dream run and these rejections weren’t the way it was supposed to go! Of course, seeing as this was my ‘only’ experience with publishing, I didn’t know I’d had a dream run, and I didn’t fully accept how lucky I’d been for some time – and only then when I began chalking up some real rejections.
Following those days of harsh and painful enlightenment, I began to see rejections in a different light. And now, I wave them proudly, proof that I’m still in there fighting. The rejections fired me – made me want to prove them wrong. And happily, with more than 60 books published, I have less of those rejections than acceptances and I hope it’s an acknowledgement of the fact that I read the reasons stated in those rejections very carefully; used them as a tool to improve and hone and my craft.
And along the way too, I have come to understand perspective. And how it varies from person to person – editor to editor… I love the story of the Newspaper in Calcutta, India who tested the literary waters, by carrying out an experiment. The newspaper sent the opening chapters of two Booker Prize-winning novels to 20 London agents and publishers: Stanley Middleton’s Holiday (he shared the Booker with Nadine Gordimer in 1974) and V.S. Naipaul’s In a Free State(1971).
The result? Many did not reply at all, and the ones who did, rejected both outright. Nobody recognized the authors.
Sure, commercial fiction styles change, but Booker prize winners?
So, take heart from your rejections:
And finally, remember that all it takes is one person to believe; one person to love the story as much as we do and see its potential. And if that one person is the right person, they can drive your story to stellar heights.
And the best revenge for all those who rejected you? Write the best damn book ever…
This is an excerpt from Kerri's blog 'Running with Pens'
If you are a member of HWC we can organise a mentorship for you with Kerri. Join HWC now
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