Rejection Stamina: How Much Can YOU Take?

I was reading an oldĀ Writer Magazine yesterday, and the article about best-selling (as in over 15 million copies) Meg Cabot caught my eye. She said you need to block out what you read about “overnight successes” in the publishing business.

She points to her own experience with rejection, and I challenge you to read this without fainting:

  • It took her three years of sending out query letters every day to land an agent.
  • Before publishing she got a rejection letter every day in the mail for four years–over 1,000 rejections.

And she didn’t quit! She went on to write over 50 books for juveniles, teens and adults. Her Princess Diaries series became the basis of two hit Disney films.

Slightly Embarrassed

Reading about Meg Cabot’s stick-to-it-iveness made me rather embarrassed for all the times I’ve (1) moaned and groaned about a couple of rejections, and (2) given up on a manuscript after fewer than five rejections. I have four novels in my closet right now that I gave up on after just a few rejections.

This coming year I will be dusting them off, re-reading them for possible revisions, and sending them out again.

Rejection Stamina

How about you? What is your “rejection stamina”? Are you another Meg Cabot? I hope so! Look how her stamina has served her well.

If you’re brave, share how many rejections you receive before giving up on a piece. Also, what’s your best tip for getting a manuscript back in the mail ASAP?

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7 Responses to Rejection Stamina: How Much Can YOU Take?

  1. Vijaya says:

    Wow! That’s hugely encouraging. I’ve had over 50 rejections on a little concept book in various iterations over 10 yrs . But it wouldn’t let go of me and I always had to take it out and tinker with it. It kept getting better. The rejections became personal … until one day, I took it out to play with it again, and made it a rhyming story based upon a friend’s suggestion. I sent it out when Cartwheel had an open call for subs. Ten Easter Eggs will be published by Scholastic next year.

    I need to dust off some of the old stories that came close and send them out again. Thank you for that reminder.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Vijaya, so good to hear from you! Yours is a true success story! Over fifty rejections, and then Scholastic!! Your story is as impressive and indicative of stamina as any I’ve heard! :-)

  2. Doug Shearer says:

    In the last four years, I’ve written 23 pieces ranging in size from a few hundred words to 85,000 words. I’ve made it to final round of cuts and even had one story make it through six editors and ultimately not be published because of size limitations. Some of my stories have been submitted once, and others several times. To date I’ve had 87 rejections . . . two this morning. Not sure I have much stamina left.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Doug, you’ve already shown more stamina than I ever had. Even though I love to read other writers’ stories about “how I sold after the 46th rejection,” I tended to retire things after two or three rejections (very bad example to set.) Being in the final round of cuts and then not making it is almost, in some ways, harder than being cut early. You get your hopes up with each round of editors. Six editors is a lot at one place!! You sound like a real writer though, and while you may take a break, I can’t quite see you quitting. Sounds like it’s in your blood. :-)

  3. Tina says:

    The worst rejection for me is the silent one – the one where you send your book baby out into the world, hoping for the best and then…. nothing. At least with an email or a rejection slip I know that my work was viewed, and I was taken seriously enough to be acknowledged. I understand that agents and editors are inundated with submissions and queries, but for me, not hearing anything at all is emotionally harder than a concrete “no.”

  4. Meg Cabot sets a great example for us who have a tendency to give up too soon. My first hardcover book was published by Dodd, Mead back in 1978. It was the sixth or seventh publisher that I had tried. I was mighty happy to get a contract for TRUCKS, TRUCKING AND YOU. I went on to write seven more books with the late JoAnn Daly as my editor. We were working on the eighth when her Cobblehill/Dutton imprint was dropped after a new merger and she retired.

    I commend you for all you have accomplished recently in your writing world according to your latest blog. Wow! Lend me some of your creativity, marketing skills and your energy.

    Speaking of marketing, you don’t need him, but some of the published writers who read your blog and need affordable exposure for their books should check out

    • kwpadmin says:

      Hope, good to hear from you! I got published the first time about five years after you did, but weren’t those lovely days of working with the same editor? I was on a twelfth book for Atheneum when the merger happened there and my editor left. I think I learned about rejection stamina THEN actually. It was a whole new world, and has remained so.

      Thank you for the tip about Readers, you can trust Hope’s recommendation, if you are looking for marketing help.

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